If Targa Newfoundland was not on your bucket list, then I hope that it has moved onto the list as you are reading this article. This Targa takes place in the province of Newfoundland and Labrador; it is one of the best places in the world to view icebergs. Targa is run on the island of Newfoundland and the ferry from Nova Scotia takes a minimum of six hours. St. John's is the capital city and it shares the same latitude as Seattle, Washington. Seattle averages a foot of snow annually; St. John's averages slightly more than ten feet – the difference between the Pacific and Atlantic coasts! The stages are run over five days on public roads through towns and villages (roads are closed during the competition), and there are three distinct ways for a participant to approach the event. First there’s the Fast Tour Division and this is not a competition class. It is a way to enjoy your automobile during some challenging driving – with limits as dictated by the event. Then there is the Grand Touring Division and this is further differentiated by two classes – Unequipped and Equipped. Equipped allows integrated distance, time, and speed computing aids. The pinnacle is the Targa Division. This is for fully equipped race vehicles and competition to see who sets the fastest time. Targa has three sub-divisions – Open, Modern, and Classic. Mark and Miles competed in the Classic division and there is no doubt the competition was fierce.
When you hear the Targa Truck you are just in awe of the vibration inducing bass notes which pour out of the side exit exhaust pipes. Lift the hood and you see a massive engine. It is the third or fourth engine that Mark has had in the truck in the past quarter century. It is a Chevrolet Performance LSX Race Block with 427 cubic inches that has been built for endurance and power. Mark bought this block in 2010 from Scoggin-Dickey Parts Centre out of Texas and this was when he and the truck were in quarter mile drag race mode (personally, I am glad that phase did not last long. This is so much more interesting). Callies CompStar crank and rods. Diamond Forged Pistons. Mahle bearings. ARP fasteners are everywhere and the bottom is capped with a Moroso remote filter oil pan. The truck is truly a monster with this setup installed in the engine bay. Based upon similar builds, Mark estimates the horsepower to be in the 625 range, but for Targa was detuned by about 75 HP to be able to accommodate the regular gas that would be available in the rural segments (understand that to be most of them) of this event. What is even more interesting about this engine is that he did not buy it until Liz, his wife, made him get it! When it was installed and the first day it fired up, Mark got Liz and they loaded up the truck and went on a 22 day 14000 kilometre engine break in from Toronto to Vancouver Island, down the coastline, and back. Similar to a trip from Niagara Falls, NY to Seattle, WA to Los Angeles, CA and back. Liz is Mark's greatest supporter and ardent fan. When he questioned the expense of entering Targa and his own sanity for considering it, more than once Liz talked him through it and encouraged him to make this dream happen.
Mark and Miles were getting to the final stages of preparing the truck for the Targa, still not sure how everything would work out, when they got a long distance conference call from Scoggin-Dickey Parts Centre and Chevrolet Performance. While they were standing in a parking lot having this conversation they got the sponsorship but, more than that, they got incredible moral support and non-stop enthusiasm from these two organizations.