No matter what part of the world you hail from, there's really nothing quite like the Targa Newfoundland. Held on a beautiful island off the Eastern coast of Canada, the course is over 1,350 miles long and winds through small towns, open spaces and deep forests for some of the most challenging and varied stages of any competition on the continent. As a result, competitors come wielding sheetmetal from every conceivable corner of the globe and era of automotive history. It's a buffet of horsepower at wide-open throttle, and this year, we'll be in the hunt ourselves.
The good people at Flyin' Miata have been so kind as to offer us a much-coveted co-driver seat in their supercharged 2006 MX-5. Nancy, as our valiant stallion is affectionately known due to her NC chassis, started life as an abused orphan of the Mazda press car fleet. After a little massaging by the Flyin' Miata crew, the car now rocks a 2009 front fascia, the company's proprietary supercharger kit, springs and sway bars as well as a set of Tokico Shocks. All told, the car produces somewhere around 240 horsepower, which should be enough to help us keep up with the rest of the Grand Touring Class.
Yours Truly will doing his level best to keep from confounding Bill Cardell as he whips Nancy across the Canadian landscape. Those familiar with the Miata scene know Cardell as the founder and owner of Flyin' Miata, so if anyone knows how to properly cane an MX-5, it's this guy. I'm honored to have the chance to share the cockpit with him.
This year, Flyin' Miata is actually campaigning two vehicles. While Cardell, myself and Nancy are set to go the distance in the Grand Touring category, Keith and Janel Tanner are also taking to the Targa. The husband-and-wife team will once again helm the same 1994 MX-5 Miata that they drove in the 2008 Targa Newfoundland, with one big change. This year, the car rocks a General Motors L33 V8 conversion that cranks out 400 horsepower to the rear wheels thanks to a set of LS6 heads and a trick cam. All of that power is funneled through a T56 six-speed transmission and a Getrag differential with a clutch-pack limited slip. Needless to say, the Tanners will be taking on the Open Class to do battle with the quickest metal of the event.
Interestingly enough, Flyin' Miata wouldn't have been able to head to the 2011 Targa Newfoundland at all without the help of the company's fans and supporters. The team tried to seduce large sponsors to help fund the trip to Canada before turning to the Miata nation for help. To date, they've raised over $14,500 to help put the cars on the first stage. It's a testament to just how faithful Miata owners can be.
Given that my navigation experience is limited plotting the quickest path to the Dippin Dots stand at the local amusement park, I've got some serious work to do before the race gets started on September 10. Stay tuned for updates on my Targa education.