1965 Mustang Fastback - Racing To The End Of The Earth
A '65 Mustang Takes On The Targa Newfoundland
Adventure. That's what it's all about. Whether it's the great pilgrimage to Bonneville or spending a weekend driving back roads looking for a possible barn find, adventure is where you find it. Getting to the fairgrounds early and scoring a parking spot under the tree? No, it's about how you had to strap the come-along to a tree to get the car out of the berries when you found it.
And it's about participating in events like the Targa Newfoundland, a week-long rally held in Newfoundland, Canada, each September. It covers over 1,300 miles, almost 250 in competition. Working closely with the government, the event begins in St. Johns and runs through and between small towns along the eastern side of Newfoundland. There's no prize money, but competition is stiff, with factory-backed teams and high-horsepower tube-chassis race cars common in the upper classes. Mostly, it's about regular guys looking for more adventure than their local closed-course track offers.
Chip Brunner and Gentry Zentmeyer competed in the 2004 La Carrera Pan Americana race in a stock class '53 Studebaker. The following year, someone wanted the Stude worse than they did, and they found themselves without a race car. By 2006, the need for adventure was there again, and the Targa Newfoundland seemed like the perfect venue. Chip and Gentry bought and prepped a '65 Mustang fastback for the 2006 race; we got to tag along
While many of us have Walter Middy'd ourselves behind the wheel of an open-track car, there's a big difference between a relatively safe race course and public roads where pine trees and fire hydrants take the place of tire walls and gravel traps. Runoff area? One local told us, "For every mile of road in Newfoundland, there's two miles of ditches." Added another, "They're six foot deep, and we store our rocks and boulders in 'em." Funny, but they weren't joking.
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Realizing the consequences of something going wrong at 110 mph versus 155 mph, Chip and Gentry wisely competed in the vintage classes where cars represent what was available off the showroom floor when the they were new. Durability and finishing the race cleanly are as important as all-out speed, but you still get to push the car well into the triple digits. In 1965, Shelbys were built to SCCA rules, which allows use of factory race goodies like an export brace, traction bars, bigger front discs, some fiberglass body panels, headers, and aluminum four-barrel intake, making it a perfect car for the Targa.
A good six-cylinder body was found on eBay, stripped to bare metal shell, and restored with sheetmetal and fiberglass from YearOne. To firm things up, all seams were welded, spot welds were doubled up, and convertible A-pillar boxes were added. The rules stress safety, but they don't want it to be used as an advantage. For that reason, no rollcage bars are allowed into the engine bay or past the centerline of the rear axle. An 8-point cage, window nets, 5-point harnesses, and fire extinguishers were installed around the mainly stock interior, which was also fitted with a Shelby-spec spare tire in the back seat area. A repro Shelby gauge pod, Terra-Trip rally computer, and Hurst shifter round out the interior, while the trunk was fitted with battery, Fuel Safe cell, scissors jack, four-way lug wrench, and roadside safety triangles. A tool bag and tow strap were also stashed into the driver-side quarter-panel area-both were needed frequently.