I mentioned earlier that Targa generates loads of tourism dollars for the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.
It also generates loads of money for various charities.
For the last two years, the official charity of Targa has been The Autism Society of this province.
But many cars run to support their own charities, most of them involving children.
There’s a special fund-raiser going on this year, to build a Registered Education Savings Plan for 10-month old Sophia Deagle.
He father Darryl was a high-spirited, push-the-boundaries type of man, who initially came to Targa as crew chief for an MG-B which crashed heavily in a Prologue practice run.
But the Halifax native/Moncton resident was intrigued by the entire event, and for the next four years, he was co-driver for Jim Turner of Newburgh New York, most recently in Turner’s 1990 Mustang GT.
In addition to Sophia, his wife Crystal, and automotive speed, Deagle’s other love was parachute jumping.
Not the normal jump-out-of-a-plane-and-pop-your-chute stuff, but a relatively recent wrinkle called the ‘wingsuit’.
In these suits, you become as close to a bird as I guess it’s possible to become. You jump out of the airplane, spread your ‘wings’, and fly.
Deagle was an expert at this, having completed over 80 jumps. He was also an instructor, sharing his love of the sport and his knowledge of its techniques with others.
This past August 13, on a ‘normal’ flight, he found himself blown off-course. As he approached a landing, he saw that he might come in contact with a fence. He tried to bank into a turn, but lost the ‘current’, and crashed to the ground.
Turner says that Deagle was about 200 feet up, apparently not high enough to deploy the auxiliary emergency chute. He died instantly.
Rick MacLeod of Sault Sainte Marie, a long-time Targa campaigner, has known his share of adversity - he contracted Multiple Sclerosis several years ago, but continues to compete in Targa, raising funds for the MS Society.
He is also the father of three young children, and realized that little Sophia was going to need a lot of the help that Daddy was not going to be able to provide.
Hence, the Sophia Deagle RESP drive.
To learn more about Deagle and to contribute to Sophia's RESP, visit Darryl Deagle's web site here.
Today was ‘Prologue’ day, three short practice runs to get the cobwebs out (of car, driver and co-driver). They don’t count in the results, but the speeds the cars attain in these runs help the organizers determine the starting order for tomorrow’s first day of competition.
Just about every year, somebody Blows Up Real Good or crashes Big Time in Prologue, being caught out by Newfoundland’s tricky roads, an overflow of adrenaline, or a bloated ego.
They ignore the warnings given to them by the organizers, by fellow veteran competitors, by their spouses - by just about everybody.
I initially didn’t think anybody had gone off in anger this year, but at dinner, I heard that someone did come to grief at the end of the first Prologue stage. Don’t know how serious the damage was.
There were a few ‘mechanicals’, but little major carnage that I could see.
Problem - in the first Prologue run, I could feel our MINI Challenge car running just a bit flat, not giving me the power it usually does.
During the transit stage after the hot run, I noticed a ‘check engine’ light on the dash. It probably came on during the stage, but you're a bit too busy at that time to notice much of anything but the road ahead.
A few km down the road, I could feel the power come back in, and the light went out.
Obviously, some sort of transient condition.
We didn’t have time to do much diagnosis out on the course, so we ran the other two practice stages as is.
As soon as I launched for Stage Two, the light came back on and the power dropped off, and things didn't right themselves until we were done Stage Three, and the car was running cool again.
We took the car to Frank Howard’s sparkling-brand-new MINI dealership in St. John’s, and dragged tech Justin Crank away from his own car - he is also competing in Targa - to see if he could figure it out.
As I type, he and our own techie Kevin Abe are investigating. It may be a duff spark plug, maybe just a bit of bad gasoline.
Even if we’re down a little on power, we’ll be there tomorrow.
But as I said, for now, I gotta get some sleep!