I recently had the privilege of attending and driving in the Targa Trophy Experience Event San Diego, the first Targa Trophy rally of 2014, courtesy of my good friend Lon Mok of SoCalEuro. SoCalEuro is an organization best known for their Big SoCalEuro events I’ve covered in the past: 2013, 2012, but also supports the Southern California car scene more broadly, has active forums, and helps organize a ton of events that make the SoCal Euro scene is what it is. Thanks Lon for sending me on your behalf!
Targa Trophy is a unique experience, unlike anything else I’ve ever been on. A lot of the drivers I met had done the rally multiple times before and keep coming back based on how much fun they had – indeed it only seems to keep growing as the event sold out this year with ~150 cars participating.
The event started with a German Car Festival at HRE Headquarters which functioned as a mini-show but had hundreds of cars that turned out, and is where I got the majority of my photos. There were food trucks, raffles, giveaways, and even a guy in a giant bunny suit taking photos. There were a TON of cars there, including some super rare cars that weren’t rallying but there on display such as the classic Mercedes 300 SL above.
The rally started a little after noon – the rally features an exclusive app which has a secret code given to you at registration to view the route. The directions are intentionally vague at times, with part of the objective being to find a quicker route in order to finish closest to the goal time. The organizers are clear to point out it’s not a race – the organizers drive the course the weekend before and set a target pace, which they don’t reveal, and your goal is to get as close to that pace as possible; so going too fast can hurt you just as much as driving too slow. The target pace was set in a Ferrari FF (pictured above) but driven at a reasonable speed with no tickets and moderate traffic, so drivers should attempt to not get lost, drive responsibly, but find clever ways to shave off time here and there to get close to the target pace.
Each car has a copilot, which I quickly learned was a necessity – even equipped with a 3G iPad, two iPhones, and a built-in nav unit, it was difficult to keep up with the turn by turn directions of the route as we went through back roads of Poway, Jamul, Chula Vista and all over Southeast San Diego. My friend Brandon took on this duty and did an excellent job keeping us (mostly) on route, keeping the jams pumping, and most of all the laughs and good times rolling. The picture above captures the sheer ridiculousness and fun of the event perfect, IMO – it was several hours of driving bliss.
The rally features checkpoints where participants need to do something to check-in and prove they followed the route, such as buying a small fries at Carls Jr and making the Targa Trophy logo, or taking a picture of the skydivers as you pass San Diego Skydiving in Chula Vista. When you finish they use these photos to verify you actually completed the route, but it also adds a fun component to see what each checkpoint has in store for you. The Targa Trophy takeover of Carls Jr was particularly awesome, there was easily 2 million dollars worth of cars in what was otherwise an obscure burger joint in the middle of nowhere.
My car managed to get lost a few times, but for the most part we kept up and probably the most fun was cruising on the freeways packed full of stickered up exotics and German cars. The drivers were responsible and most were there just to have fun, and Audizine.com had several videographers there and I’m sure they’ll be producing an amazing video of some of that action very soon.
The drive was both challenging and rewarding at the same time, and after about 200 miles and nearly a full tank of gas driven, we finally made it back to the Hard Rock hotel for the awards ceremony and raffle, where there were some great parties. Participants got free admission into all of Hard Rock’s bars and their rooftop club Float, which was a nice bonus. Indeed the rooftop bar was full of drivers I recognized from the event, and a great way to cap off an incredible drive.
A special thanks goes to the Targa Trophy crew who had a massive number of people involved to make this happen and make sure it was safe and enjoyable for everyone, as well as the event sponsors HRE Wheels, Flow Form, MFEST, Audizine and SoCal Euro for helping make the event possible. Below are more pics from the pre-rally show at HRE, and you can check out my full photo gallery at the very bottom. Thanks for reading, and please share this post if you enjoyed it!