After a 2 year hiatus I have decided to enter the Targa Newfoundland again in 2007. We (Dick Paterson and I) had a disastrous start to our Targa career when we crashed my 100S into the remnants of a Volvo P1800 which had crashed ahead of us. You can read all about the preparations of the replacement car. (I have vowed never to compete in the 100S again) here http://www.acmefluid.com.au/larry/ahx12.html AHX12, the replacement car, I drove in 2003 and 2004 with Blair Harber, the owner, did pretty well. Finishing in itself is something of an achievement in Targa Newfoundland, and in both of those years we managed to get a finishing silver plate. To keep people coming back Targa Newfoundland, and most other events of this type, award a more prestigious award when you finish a certain number of events. In TN for example, 3 consecutive finishes produces a gold plate. I’m assured that in this case “consecutive” means finishes which are not interrupted by a DNF, or a Targa where you failed to collect a silver plate and that not entering for a year or to does not disqualify one.
So…. After 2 silvers AHX12 should be eligible a gold plate if we manage to complete the course in ’07. Dick and I ran AHX12 at Watkins Glen in the Australia / U.S. Healey Challenge in 2005. There were some very fast cars in that event and AHX12, being set up for rallying was something of a handful. Dick managed to loop the car several times on the main straight when it got loose under braking in the wet. Unfortunately I didn’t see it but from his description and the way he was waving his arms around it must have been quite an “occasion “. I came very close to doing the same thing in the left hander heading down into the boot but just managed to gather things up before the back overtook the front and things got really out of hand. I had noticed that driving the car at speed down a slightly twisty section did give one the impression that you were driving along the top of a hand rail or something. After a lot of measuring and running the suspension up and down with gauges on it I think I have figured out the cause. The half elliptic rear springs are slightly curved at the normal ride on this car. We have raised the ride height by about 1” because of the rough roads in Newfoundland. The problem with this is that as the car leans over the spring on the outside straightens and despite the radius arms tends to push the axle back on that side while the inside spring shortens and moves that side of the axle forward. This is called “bump steer” and results in some very rapid oversteer which means that the car turns into the corner much more than the driver intended by his steering wheel input. There are many ways to minimize this but, with the very limited axle travel available on a Healey 100, correcting the problem without lowering the car back to its “design” ride height is a substantial challenge.