Targa 2002 off and running across the province
by Jennifer Pickett
Who’d want to spend nine days in a car driving more than 2,300 kilometers around Newfoundland.
The scenery would be spectacular, no doubt, but talk about a pain in the rear.
Of course, the pain wouldn’t be so bad if your rear was siting on a posh leather seat behind the wheel of a 1960 Corvette convertible, surrounded by Vipers and Porsches and just about every other make and model of vintage and rally car.
The owner of the aforementioned Corvette (teal green in colour), Flatrock resident Lee Troxel, recently hit the road with Targa 2002 (Sept. 13-22), the North American début of Targa, a huge car rally that includes two components — one racing (known as Targa) and the other a more, laid-back, law-abiding ride.
Targa caught Troxel’s attention two or three months ago when he saw a story in the local paper. Not knowing anything about the event, Troxel decided to attend an information meeting.
The idea of Targa Newfoundland perked his interest and, after the meeting, Troxel went out and found sponsors to back his participation in the rally.
Troxel is one of the few Newfound-landers competing in the Targa event. His wife, Elizabeth, is his navigator.
“I thought it would to be exciting,” Troxel says. “An opportunity to go as fast as you want on Newfoundland roads, which should be kind of fun.”
Fun probably isn’t how most people would describe driving a convertible around Newfoundland with a nor’easter in your face. Again, however, there was the Corvette factor.
Targa Newfoundland involves two separate races. The cars drive around Newfoundland in the touring stage, an easy-going ride that lets drivers show off their cars (which are definitely worth showing off).
During the touring stage the cars stop at several locations and compete in the second stage, a race against time known as the Targa stage. Unlike normal races where cars race each other to cross the finish line first, in Targa the cars race against time in sections of closed roads to test their driving skills.
Being allowed to go as fast as you want is only good if you’ve got power under the hood. Of course, with 340 horse power under the Corvette’s bonnet, it’s definitely worth it. Troxel, however, is more interested in driving his car down memory lane. Troxel’s Corvette is a special edition version that started life as a competition car and spent its first five years racing. The car is equipped with special features, including fuel injection, competition brakes and competition steering. At 340 horse power, it’s the most horse power you could get from a Chev.
Troxel restored his first car when he was 14 and his best friend’s father gave him and two of his friends a 1946 Ford, put it in the backyard gave them a tool box and told them to take it apart and see how it works.
Troxel has made a hobby out of restoring old cars, buying them and fixing them up. He has done restoring for other people, as well as for himself. He actually designed and built houses for a living (he retired a few years ago), but cars were his true passion in life. “I’d rather work on a car than anything else.”
Born in California, Troxel noticed that the people in Newfoundland react differently when it comes to older cars, or more expensive cars.
“In California you wouldn’t even be noticed for the car you’re driving,” says Troxel. “Down here (in Newfoundland) they’re almost run off the road.”
If it’s older expensive cars Newfoundlanders like, then they are most certainly enjoying Targa. Over 200 of the worlds most exotic cars, including Vipers, Porsches and Mustangs are being driven along the Trans Canada Highway over the nine-day event.
Driving across Newfoundland, Troxel expected to put his Corvette through a lot of wear and tear. When asked did he mind putting his car through that kind of stress, Troxel replied,
“the car is meant to be driven.”