Brad Ocock
September 1, 2009

The engine is a Holman-Moody built Hi-Po 289 with an electronic ignition conversion kit in the stock-type distributor and tri-Y headers with Flowmaster mufflers. A Top-loader four-speed from Orlando Mustang and 9-inch with 3.50 gears finish the drivetrain. The front suspension is basically stock with a quick-ratio steering box, Global West sway bar, and Stainless Steel Brake's 4-piston calipers, while the rear suspension has an extra leaf in the spring packs (five instead of four), override traction bars, drum brakes (per the rules), and another Global West sway bar. The 15-inch American Racing Torq Thrusts look like they were created specifically for Shelby Mustangs. Street tires are required, making 15-inch BFGs the tire of choice.

We arrived in Newfoundland expecting decent North American roads. What we found were North American roads, but more like Detroit. We quickly heard stories about a Porsche 911 getting its entire engine and trans-axle ripped out and a '65 Mustang loosing its oil pan. We immediately found a phone book and called Brian's Autobody, where we spent Saturday fabricating a skid plate, rewelding a leaky axle tube, and rebleeding the brakes.

The event is run as timed stages, with each car departing alone. A target time to complete the stage is set for each class and the drivers try to hit the time: too fast, you get penalized; too slow and you have time added to your overall score. If you miss or don't complete a stage, you're penalized. From Monday through Friday, there are 36 race competition stages, and you don't have the opportunity to make up for a bad day. The key, therefore, is to run well in every stage.

Each morning the drivers and navigators go over the day's route books. Each kilometer is mapped in detail, and the navigator's job is to tell the driver "Sharp turn to the left," "Blind corner with a sweeping left!" or "slow down!" The driver's primary job is to keep it between the ditches and get through as quick as possible. By Friday, it's common for drivers and navigators to barely be on speaking terms.

The crews typically follow the race, driving to the end of each stage to check on their car and drivers. The will to finish is intense-some 10-percent of the cars DNF due to accidents or mechanical failure. Several crews had to beat their cars back into shape after mishaps, at least two teams swapped engines to continue, and a Porsche team thrashed all night to dry their car after they missed a turn and landed in the ocean. All for bragging rights and a little metal plate.

Our Mustang finished in the middle of the pack, which wasn't a bad outing. We didn't crash (though there was a 180-degree spin), and we had our share of mechanical gremlins that required on-the-fly fixes, like clutch linkage adjustments, repairing the fuel cell that vented improperly causing gas to siphon out, tack welding a universal joint to the yoke, and replacing the pushrods in the middle of nowhere with a set found in an abandoned Ford truck. While it rained sideways during Hurricane Florence. Good times.

We can't wait to go back.

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