I first met Miles when he and his racing teammate (Miles has always been part of a team) were campaigning in time attack with an incredible turbocharged Civic. They left the track one weekend mumbling about no traction and when they came back the next, the fenders had been massaged (with a sawzall) and 275 slicks had been installed. That enabled the Honda to really put down power. The next season he and his racing partner switched to a Caterham 7 powered by an RX7 engine. The following year they swapped in a S2000 engine; the year after that they turbo'd the S2000 powered Caterham 7. This background is important because the experience provided over the 14 years of racing, breaking, fixing, and solving problems with a wide range of cars made Miles an invaluable member of team Targa Truck. Some teams have a support crew of one, two, or maybe even a half-dozen or more supporters. Targa Truck had a team of two – Mark and Miles. Support staff of two – Miles and Mark. Clean up crew of two – Mark and Miles. If it needed to be done, then the job fell to the two of them. Of course, the camraderie of the event meant that if there was an issue that everyone pitched in to help out. Other teams would offer advice, suggestions, and provide tools or event materials if it was needed. Even the local community would help out. And not just by providing amazing meals for the teams at various stations – but by opening up their homes, shops, and garages if necessary. Regardless of what time of the day or night it was – if a Targa vehicle was down a local shop or home owner would provide the space necessary to assist in getting it back on track.
Navigators will tell you the truth. Driving is fun but it is easy. Being a navigator takes a lot of skill and practice. The driver reacts to the stimuli that he sees right around him and prepares for what is around that blind corner. The navigator knows what is around that corner but also knows what is around every upcoming corner. He prepares the driver for that. When a navigator is in the groove, they visualize the track and know exactly where they are and what has to happen next. Miles pointed out that it was his job to yell at Mark – under certain circumstances, that is. For example, Miles would explain the route to Mark as they were preparing to drive. He would point out that a third of the way in he would yell, because it was a crucial point and there was no time for hesitation. Mark has teamed up with Miles before as they prepared for Targa. High performance driving schools, track days, and even outside of motorsports they interact as they both work in the same profession.
During Days 1 and 2 Miles had to focus on the course notes and this meant that during the entire competition segment his head was down and he was reading notes and checking facts with the navigation computer. This is where his years of experience as an instructor was beneficial as he is used to sitting in the passenger seat and being bounced around. He laughed as he remembered the first day and how unweildy the truck was. The beast is so long that he indicated that bumps were vastly different from what you would experience in a car. The front would be just settling down and the rear would hit the bump and be unsettled, being quite a handful. Together they learned that the Targa Truck responded best to a heavy foot. Hard on the gas and hard on the brakes, meant that bumps really only affected one axle rather than two. Driving hard and trail braking everywhere made the truck much more civil to drive!