in the beginning…

… all automobile competitions were rallies. That is, they occurred on roads rather than racetracks — for in the beginning, there were no racetracks.

Nowadays, when you say ‘motorsport’, track-based events are what come to mind. NASCAR, Formula 1, MotoGP, Indycars, LeMans, Superbike – all require some knowledge of the course, and that comes only with lots of repetition.  You’ve got to do laps to learn the corners.

But there are still road-based races, like this one:

Targa Newfoundland 2014 ( youtube playlist )Screen Shot 2015-08-30 at 9.35.28 AM


Targa NL is a five-day automobile competition, the only Targa-style event in the Americas. Targa’s defining characteristic is ‘raising the bar’: each day of the event, target times get shorter.

It’s not on a racetrack – Targa runs on the narrow roads and byways of Newfoundland, the same roads the islanders traverse all the other weeks of the year. Hundreds of volunteers assist the organizers in maintaining safety along the 1400-km route.

Renee and I are entered in the Grand Touring class. GT is not an all-out speed contest; instead, each section of the route has a set average speed. If a team arrives at the end marker early, it means they exceeded that set speed – and they’ll be penalized per-second for the resulting time error. There is an identical penalty for being late (caused by running too slowly).