Posts Tagged ‘targa’

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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MotoMan gives Targa Newfoundland the documentary treatment

Published by Mazda Blogs on April 15th, 2012

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MotoMan Targa Newfoundland video

It’s been seven months since I crammed into a supercharged Mazda Miata with the Flyin’ Miata crew and fought tooth and nail for a fifth-place finish in the Grand Touring class of the 2011 Targa Newfoundland. That amount of time has done nothing to dull my desire to head right back into the fray as soon as possible. While I was there, the FM team spent a good deal of time hanging out with our friends over at MotoMan, and the crew just finished putting the final touches on its race documentary.

The first episode shows off the sweet SRT-tweaked Dodge Challenger the MotoMan guys got to play with. With plenty of suspension adjustments, a full cage and a bare-bones interior, the big white beast was as far from the NC Miata we campaigned as you could get. Watch the clip after the jump for an introduction to a few of the other competitors, including SRT CEO Ralph Gilles, as well as an interview with driver Brandon Fitch and myself. Keep an eye out for more episodes, too.

Continue reading MotoMan gives Targa Newfoundland the documentary treatment

MotoMan gives Targa Newfoundland the documentary treatment originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 14 Apr 2012 20:01:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Flyin’ Miata V8 Targa MX-5 Miata

Published by Mazda Blogs on October 25th, 2011

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Point. Shoot. Grin.

Flyin' Miata V8 Targa MX-5 Miata

Wedging myself into the cockpit of Keith Tanner’s 1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata turned Targa Newfoundland podium finisher, I’m struck with the realization that most race cars are the automotive equivalent of a pet electric eel. They look fantastic lounging around, and you may even be struck with the impulse to get close, but the reality is that it’s only a matter of time before it reaches out and lights you up like a cheap string of Christmas lights. This notion is only underscored when Tanner hands me a set of noise-cancelling headphones with an integrated com system.

“Here. You’ll probably want these,” he says. “It can get kind of loud in here.”

With a 400-horsepower General Motors L33 wedged between the fenders of the poised Miata, it’s only a matter of time before the stripped interior resonates with the sound of eight furious cylinders. I ask if there’s anything I should know before I hit the ignition. Tanner says no. I’m beginning to suspect he’s lying to me.

Continue reading Flyin’ Miata V8 Targa MX-5 Miata

Flyin’ Miata V8 Targa MX-5 Miata originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 24 Oct 2011 11:57:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Flyin’ Miata at Targa Newfoundland, Part 4: Off to Gander

Published by Mazda Blogs on September 16th, 2011

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Flyin Miata at the 2011 Targa Newfoundland

While I thought that I grasped just how unique and amazing the Targa Newfoundland is in the world of motorsports, the breadth of this event’s character didn’t hit home until I got here. We spent the majority of yesterday’s morning and afternoon tackling stages in and around Gander, a small town about 206 miles north of St. John’s. Despite my completely misinterpreting the route book on stage one and a near miss with an time control, we managed to zero every stage and avoid any penalties, but the two final stages of the day presented a challenge that we weren’t exactly prepared for.

Though the stages we had covered so far had given me gracious periods of three, four and even five kilometers during which I could insert my own time and distance way points to keep the 2006 Flyin’ Miata Mazda MX-5 on course and on time, the last two did not. Both stages took place on the same seven kilometer course that wound through a dense subdivision. That’s right, kids. We would be attempting to carry a 57.5 kph (35.7 mph) average through a series of 29 90-degree turns. I would have no more than 300 meters at most to alert Brandon Fitch, my valiant driver, of the direction of and distance to the next turn as well as monitor our time as we passed each instruction.

I’ll be honest; I didn’t have much hope for our chances.

We lined up, the lights went hot and in a second, we were blurring through the subdivision. With Fitch’s help, I was able to glean enough time to glance at our egg timers and equate the figures with our actual distance. We were going to nail it.

We zeroed Gander on the first run and managed a repeat performance for the second pass. As Fitch put it, “This is the most awesome thing. Ever. In the history of the world.”

I’m inclined to agree. Our efforts today managed to place us in first for the second day in a row, but with days of 12-hour driving and calculating quickly stacking up, our chances for careless errors are increasing drastically. Stay tuned for more updates and keep an eye on the 2011 Targa Newfoundland site for our times.

Flyin’ Miata at Targa Newfoundland, Part 4: Off to Gander originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 15 Sep 2011 10:33:00 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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Flyin’ Miata at Targa Newfoundland, Part 1: Meet your classmates

Published by Mazda Blogs on September 10th, 2011

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While the 2011 Targa Newfoundland doesn’t officially kick off until Monday, a handful of competitors have already arrived in St. John’s to take advantage of the Open Road Motorsports Targa School. Operated by veterans of the event, the school gives novice competitors a little taste of the days to come. Glen Clarke, our instructor, routinely pilots a Porsche 911 to accolades and glory, so his word is worth pure gold to our motley crew. Over the course of eight hours, the Grand Touring Flyin’ Miata team was introduced to the basics of navigation, ran a trial stage and generally sorted the roles of driver and co-pilot.

Our class included targa competitors from years past as well as newcomers like ourselves, including racers piloting a Ferrari Enzo, a delicious Porsche 914 and a completely sinister Audi 200 Avant Turbo AWD. A few additional racers have also set up camp at the local Holiday Inn, including a Maserati MC12, a Ferrari F430 Spyder, a Lamborghini Murci


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

Published by admin on September 7th, 2011

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Alpinestars Gear

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 10.

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.

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

The Road to Targa Newfoundland, Part 3: Homework and gearing up originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 06 Sep 2011 18:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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The Road to Targa Newfoundland, Part 2: Flyin’ Miata gets the documentary treatment [w/video]

Published by admin on August 25th, 2011

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Flyin' Miata at Targa Newfoundland trailer

We’re pretty smitten with the Flyin’ Miata story at Targa Newfoundland, and not just because they offered us a seat in their supercharged Grand Touring Class entry. Husband and wife team Keith and Janel Tanner managed a 16th place finish in their 1994 Mazda MX-5 Miata in the event back in 2008, and this year, they’re coming to the fight with a fire-breathing V8 conversion at their disposal. The tale is interesting enough to have snagged the ear of a filmmaker who wants to bring the Tanner story to the rest of the world.

Adam Costa has jumped onto the Flyin’ Miata wagon for the long road to the checkered flag, and he’s started a Kickstarter project to help fund the endeavor in hopes of being able to bring along an additional cameraman. You can donate anything from one dollar all the way up to $2,000 for various ‘thank you’ gifts, including an executive producer title in the film itself. A more reasonable $50 donation will land you a DVD copy of the film. Having had the pleasure of seeing Costa’s work in Speed Science for the Science Channel, we don’t think we’ll be disappointed. Hit the jump to check out the trailer for yourself and cruise over to Kickstarter for a look at the project.

Continue reading The Road to Targa Newfoundland, Part 2: Flyin’ Miata gets the documentary treatment [w/video]

The Road to Targa Newfoundland, Part 2: Flyin’ Miata gets the documentary treatment [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 24 Aug 2011 16:27:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Autoblog to compete in Targa Newfoundland with Flyin’ Miata

Published by admin on August 24th, 2011

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Flyin Miata 2006 Mazda MX-5

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.

Autoblog to compete in Targa Newfoundland with Flyin’ Miata originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 14 Jul 2011 19:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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