The Road to Targa Newfoundland, Part 3: Homework and gearing up

We're officially less than five days from the first stage of the 2011 Targa Newfoundland, and I'm frantically busy trying to cram as much information into my brain before arriving in St. John's as I possibly can. Having never navigated in a rally, there's a slew of symbols, terminology and theory to absorb before the green flag drops on September 12.

Then there's the small issue of establishing a working relationship with the Terratrip on-board vehicle computer. The thing has an instruction manual that could have been written by a Soviet-era novelist, and while I think I'll only be responsible for a few button mashes here and there, I don't want to be the guy who accidentally recalibrates the machine or keys in the self-destruct code. Keep on reading to see how the rest of our preparations are proceeding.
Zach Bowman Flyin' Miata

Fortunately, the good people at Flyin' Miata quietly insisted that Brandon and I attend the Targa Newfoundland High Performance School before shooting ourselves down the winding Canadian countryside. The program is designed to fortify teamwork and get both driver and co-driver in the mindset of actually completing the event in our own car and in one piece. With any luck, we may be able to absorb enough learning before the targa actually gets underway to keep us from bouncing off of a guard rail or plopping Nancy, our supercharged Miata, into the bay. Fingers crossed.

Amidst the haze of tulip diagrams, Terratrip technical manuals and handy phrases like "A water exit procedure is provided in Appendix 4," I realized that in addition to being woefully underprepared mentally, I also lacked the basic equipment needed to compete safely. Fortunately, our friends at Alpinestars were happy to answer my idiotic questions and point me in the direction of some top-shelf gear. Within a week of sheepishly admitting that I had no clue what size driving suit I wore, the A-Stars crew had me set up with a pair of Tech 1-S gloves, a matching set of SP Shoes and an SP Suit. The whole set fits like it was stitched just for me and will go a long way toward keeping me from turning crispy in the unlikely event of the cockpit going all en fuego. Stay tuned for a full report on how the kit stands up to 1,300 miles of rally abuse.

In the meantime, I'll be doing my best to post regular progress reports via Facebook, Twitter and, should time permit, right here on Autoblog.

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