Camaro struggles on bumpy, wet roads

The Examiner's PETER SANDERS was a guest in David Cassidy's National Automobile Museum of Tasmania-sponsored Chevrolet Camaro in the touring section of this year's Targa Tasmania. 

And here I was thinking that Wednesday's 7am start was early, but that was nothing compared with yesterday.

I was sitting in the plush front seat of Barry Cassidy and partner Wendy Burrows's National Automobile Museum of Tasmania-sponsored Chevrolet Camaro before 6am.

At least they picked me up on their way to the Silverdome for our regular convoy start.

Just one thing concerned us as we drove down the Midland Highway towards the first Targa stage at Rossarden - although the sun was starting to make its presence felt across much of the horizon, towards the left, (read ''Rossarden'') the sky was black.

Things did not improve on the run from Avoca to the former mining town and the gravel road that led to the start of the Rossarden stage saw speeds plummet to little over walking pace.

Our speed on the closed competition section was only marginally higher, thanks to the drizzle and resultant wet, slippery road surface.

I initially thought that Barry's sedate driving came from a desire to ensure no harm came to this scribe, but on reflection I realised it was more likely a desire to look after the love of his life - oh, and Wendy too.

We passed through Mangana at 8.30am - en route to Fingal, St Marys and the Elephant Pass stage - where the local was already in place  waving to cars as they passed. (Thanks for that line, Wendy).

Even the weather brightened up.

There was plenty of time for chat between the Elephant Pass and the St Helens lunch stop and Barry said that Targa Tasmania would be the Camaro's last hurrah as it was now up for sale.

He said he'd bought, raced and sold race cars over the years and put the money in the bank, but always faced the same problem - the car he'd sold was gone, but then the money was always gone too.

So when he sold his last race car, he bought the Camaro so he couldn't spend the proceeds.

It seems it is time to sell the Camaro because he wants an Nc historic touring car to supplement the HQ he's racing at the moment.

Lunch at St Helens came and went and Pyengana, Weldborough and Moorina stages passed in quick succession, the dry weather allowing Barry to feel a little more comfortable about upping our speed a bit.

But as he said several times each stage, the car's soft suspension was set up to cruise between New York and Los Angeles in comfort, not squat down on bumpy Tasmania roads while being driven spiritedly.

The result was a symphony of tyre squeal - not tyres on asphalt, but over-hanging Camaro bodywork on wider-than-standard tyres.

Ah, I love the smell of rubber burning in the morning.

The Camaro came into its own in the Legerwood stage - the long, flowing corners and relatively even surface brought a smile to our faces.

Then it was the Sideling (uneventful for Wendy and I, but a lot of muscle work for Barry) and the one we'd been waiting for all day, Longford.

A loud cheer emanated from the crowds along the popular road stage as the Camaro burbled and rolled its way past their vantage points.

That was it from me - I have a couple of days off, but Barry will check in with The Examiner after each of last three days to keep you informed


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