Posts Tagged ‘brandon fitch’

MotoMan at Targa Newfoundland, Part Two

Published by Mazda Blogs on May 9th, 2012

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MotoMan at Targa Newfoundland Part 2

The crew at MotoMan has rolled out the second episode of its Targa Newfoundland coverage. This time around, Brandon Fitch and I spend plenty of time talking with the guys about the challenges of Day One, how the Flyin’ Miata supercharged NC MX-5 Miata handles some of the more technical stages and joy of hauling ass through a subdivision. Meanwhile, team MotoMan gets a few valuable lessons on competition in targa from veterans of the race like Rob Pacione and learns a little about Newfoundland hospitality at the same time. As the week continues, competitors are forced to overcome a variety of challenges, from an entire engine swap in a Lotus to a water-logged 911.

Part Two gives us all a better idea of what it’s like to compete in Grand Touring, where the goal is to hit a specific time and speed, rather than simply beat a time like in Targa class. Both competitions are challenging in their own right, but we have to sympathize with MotoMan’s frustration at being forced to limp a Dodge Challenger 392 along at 40 miles per hour with an open road ahead of you. Scroll down to check it out for yourself.

Continue reading MotoMan at Targa Newfoundland, Part Two

MotoMan at Targa Newfoundland, Part Two originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 08 May 2012 19:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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How to lose the 2011 Targa Newfoundland in one easy step [w/video]

Published by Mazda Blogs on October 1st, 2011

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Mid-stage is no time to let your driver know his navigator has no damn clue what’s going on.

My helmet has just been crammed into the cross ribs of the roof of our Miata for the third time in less than a kilometer, driving a guttural “OOMPH” from my lungs mid-sentence at the same time. I regain my breath, look from the route book to the kitchen timer that’s Velcroed to the rally computer on the dash, and start counting out the seconds on my fingers. My tiny brain is already too overloaded for simple math, and I’ve reduced myself to elementary school tricks for quick calculations. It’s the fifth stage of the fourth day, and the verdict isn’t good; we’re a far cry from our target time.

“We are 17 seconds slow,” I say into the mic, doing my best to stifle any tones of urgency.

“Seventeen seconds? Are you sure?”

The short answer is that no, I’m not sure. For the first time in a full week’s worth of time-speed-distance rallying, our time intervals are making no damn sense. We’ll pass one and be 25 seconds down only to pass the next and be within five seconds of our target. I’m all kinds of crossed up, but mid-stage is no time to let your driver know his navigator has no damn clue what’s going on.

“I’m sure. Beat on this thing.”

Always project confidence.

Continue reading How to lose the 2011 Targa Newfoundland in one easy step [w/video]

How to lose the 2011 Targa Newfoundland in one easy step [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 30 Sep 2011 20:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Flyin’ Miata at Targa Newfoundland, Part 5: Stay on target

Published by Mazda Blogs on September 16th, 2011

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Flyin' Miata at Targa Newfoundland

It’s a good day to be in the Flyin’ Miata camp. As of the conclusion of Day 3 of competition, both the V8 Roadster and the Supercharged 2006 MX-5 hold the top position in their respective classes. While Keith and Janel Tanner have managed to sling their 430-horsepower machine through Wednesday’s nine stages to take the top slot, Brandon Fitch and I overcame a few small obstacles to zero all of our times through the day. Despite my fat-fingering the egg-timers ahead of the incredibly technical Greenspond stage, we came in just two-seconds outside of dead zero and well within our plus or minus nine-second window.

I also received a front-row showing of Fitch’s driving prowess after the car stalled at the start of the third-to-last stage. In a desperate push to make up lost time, the Flyin’ Miata engineer pushed the 240-horse Miata to 128 kph through a series of undulating turns. That figure is just two kph shy of our maximum allowable speed. Crossing that barrier brings all sorts of unsavory penalties.

Thursday will bring forth a whole new set of challenges as our window narrows to plus or minus five seconds. While we used today to train ourselves to arrive at the flying finish well within our final day tolerances, fatigue is beginning to set in on both Brandon and I, greatly increasing the chance of a careless error that could cost us our lead. Regardless of how we wrap up on Friday, the fact that we can say that we tied for first across the first three days of the 2011 Targa Newfoundland is a story I’ll be blathering at cocktail parties for years.

Flyin’ Miata at Targa Newfoundland, Part 5: Stay on target originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 15 Sep 2011 18:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Flyin’ Miata at Targa Newfoundland, Part 3: Welcome to the jungle

Published by Mazda Blogs on September 14th, 2011

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Zach Bowman and Brandond Fitch with Flyin Miata at the Targa Newfoundland

The 2011 Targa Newfoundland is officially underway after three prologue stages on Sunday. As our first real taste of targa competition, the day was instrumental in alerting Brandon Fitch, driver of the number 1680 Flyin’ Miata Supercharged Mazda Miata, and myself to the fact that we had no holy clue as to what we were doing.

As a co-driver in the Grand Touring class, it’s my job to make sure that we arrive at the flying finish line as close to our target time as humanly possible. Early in the event, we get to enjoy nice, wide 30-second time windows. Later in the week, that gap will narrow to a slender six seconds. During the prologue, we either under- or over-shot our times by as much as 30 additional seconds outside of our window.

Mercy.

What was the problem, you ask? Our rally computer, the infamous Terratrip, seems to have been designed specifically to confound and infuriate. With Brandon doing his best to keep us shiny side up during a stage, I’m trying to call out the distances to the next instruction in descending intervals of 100 meters, the instructions themselves, monitor our time as we arrive at the instruction and hopefully keep an eye on our average speed to tell us whether or not we were close to hitting our time. It didn’t work that way.

For starters, the Terratrip seems to have a preference for calculating average speed not from the time that the vehicle begins moving, but from the instant that you turn the machine on. Not helpful. If I cleared the screens in preparation for our start time, the computer began factoring two minutes of zeros into our average speed, rendering a completely useless number.

Keep reading to see how it turned out…

Continue reading Flyin’ Miata at Targa Newfoundland, Part 3: Welcome to the jungle

Flyin’ Miata at Targa Newfoundland, Part 3: Welcome to the jungle originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 13 Sep 2011 15:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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The Road to Targa Newfoundland, Part 1: Bill breaks an arm

Published by admin on August 24th, 2011

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Flyin' Miata Nancy

Racing is built on a foundation of tired sayings packed with monumental truths. Recently, few have been more poignant for the crew of the supercharged NC Miata we’re set to co-pilot in the 2011 Targa Newfoundland than, “You have to start before you can win.” Last week, Bill Cardell, our valiant pilot and part-time lumberjack, wound up accidentally felling an aspen tree on himself while doing some work at a mountain cabin. He’s currently awaiting a second set of x-rays to determine just how lengthy his recuperation will be, but either way, he’s facing a few long weeks out of the saddle due to a broken humerus. Cardell, while in seemingly good spirits, finds nothing funny about the situation. Needless to say, squeezing into the cockpit of a race car isn’t on his doctor’s prescription pad, which leaves Nancy and I without a driver.

Brandon FitchIn a moment of solidarity, your author managed to high-side my ’82 Kawasaki GPz750 on day one of a two-week motorcycle ride. The next morning, one very haggard ER doctor told me that while my bones were intact, there’s a good chance that I’ve torn my rotator cuff.

“That’s bad,” I said.

“Yes. It’s very bad,” he agreed after a pause that conveyed a mix of disdain and admiration for my appreciation of the obvious.

Even so, I’ve regained much of the movement in my left shoulder, and the pain has subsided to an ever-present dull ache. If I can ride 2,300 miles on the arm, I can sure as hell use it to hold up pace notes. I’ll circle back with the medical establishment after our return from Canada.

Meanwhile, Cardell’s nephew, Brandon Fitch, will take over the forced-induction Miata’s controls. Fitch formerly served as crew chief for both vehicles and has worked with Flyin’ Miata for the past five years. As such, he’s had plenty of seat time with our car as part of his work in product development, and word has it he’s plenty quick to boot.

The race kicks off on September 10, and I’ve been ordered to stay indoors and intact until then. That’s advice I’ll likely heed. Our best get-well wishes go out to Cardell as he stitches himself back together.

The Road to Targa Newfoundland, Part 1: Bill breaks an arm originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 23 Aug 2011 18:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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