Sea Eagle Racing, with the support and encouragement of their sponsors, particularly the folks at Time Warner Cable and Road Runner High Speed Online, has just completed the running of the Targa Newfoundland Rally which ran from September 9 through September 16, 2006. Driver Harold Seagle and Navigator Stan Pendergraft brought the Porsche 911SC to the finish line, after six days of grueling competition, in Targa Trophy time, winning this much sought after prize, in their first effort in this highly demanding international rally/race. In addition to the Targa Trophy, the team finished second in its class and fourth overall among rookies.
Targa Newfoundland is an annual six day, 2200 kilometer international rally/race around the rugged coast and across the challenging roads of Newfoundland. Competing in this year’s rally were race teams from Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States.
Seagle and Pendergraft quickly learned what was meant by the word “endurance” so often used in describing this rally. Having just completed the assembly of the car and checking all components in preparation for the race, an electrical problem became apparent while loading the race car on the trailer in North Carolina for transport to Newfoundland. It was not until the first day in the car in Newfoundland that they could finally isolate the problem and trace it to the onboard rally computer. Working late into the night in the garage after the first day of the race, and after amazingly finding another identical rally computer on the island, the crew wired both computers into the car (necessarily relocating the onboard communications equipment) --- and they continued on into the second day of the rally with a functioning computer.
On the fourth day of the rally, racing through the lovely seaside village of Greenspond, Hurricane Florence, (having managed to miss the entire east coast of the United States), found it’s way to Greenspond at exactly the moment the cars were passing along the coastline. Although the going was rough through the storm, Seagle and Pendergraft actually made up some time racing through the hurricane due to a fortunate selection of tires which handled remarkably well in the torrential rain.
On the fifth day of the rally, the car started to miss badly on the Marystown stage (which happened to be the first stage of that day). The miss in the engine became progressively worse until, at the end of the Frenchman’s Cove stage, the engine lost all power. After emergency work on the ignition system and a push by the service crew, they finally managed to restart the engine and finish the day. In working through the evening, they discovered the problem was caused by water in the fuel which had been taken on at the end of the previous day’s racing stages. After further frantic repairs on the evening of the fifth day, the car was running much better and running well enough to go for the finish on the following day. The only other significant problem was the progressive deterioration of the gear box and linkage that had suffered through the abuse of the week of racing. On the Upper Island Cove stage, the linkage “locked up” resulting in loss of precious time in getting the car back into gear; however, the delay was not so serious as to effect the Targa Trophy time.
On reflection, after having observed the numerous and serious problems experienced by the other teams, Seagle and Pendergraft realized they actually had a rather uneventful week. In comparison, the number 701 car of Craig Seko and Ian O’Halloran of Ontario Canada, while running the Frenchman’s Cove stage, lost control of their Porsche 944 and went into the Bay off the Burin Peninsula, promptly sinking so that only the top of the car was visible. Miraculously, Seko and O’Halloran managed to have the car pulled from the Bay and promptly proceeded to drain the salt water from the car --- and the engine --- and after an extensive and determined effort, got the car running in time to cross the finish line in St. John’s on Friday evening. Even in this group of many seasoned endurance racers, many of which were racing with many years of experience, Seko and O’Halloran earned the immediate respect and admiration of all competitors by this tremendous demonstration of resolve and determination. They obviously had to overcome tremendous obstacles to achieve their goal of just finishing the race. As might be expected, they won the “Spirit of Targa” award at the closing dinner on Saturday evening in St. John’s. In the same spirit, the racers and their sponsors, at that same dinner, found that they had raised, through the event, more than $40,000.00 in support of the Targa Newfoundland favored charity, the Easter Seal Kids of Newfoundland and Labrador. Seagle, having had the opportunity to meet a number of these kids during the event, commented that this money goes to help these wonderful kids overcome the obstacles they face in their young lives, and added that nothing could better exemplify the spirit of this incredible event.
One unusual marking on the Sea Eagle Racing car is a reference to the scripture at Hebrews, Chapter 12, Verse 1 which says “Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance, and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us”.
For more information regarding Sea Eagle Racing and their sponsors, you may visit their website at SeaEagleRacing.com or for information on Targa Newfoundland, their website may be found at targanewfoundland.com.