Personal Porsche: Targa California 2015
and Photos by Mike Hinton, Redwood President
I was fortunate enough to attend the 7th annual Targa California,
which was held on April 23-25. What is the Targa California, you ask?
In a nutshell, the Targa California is a tour over some of California's
best back roads for 1976 and older cars. The pre-1976 requirement isn't
rigid, however. If Dave Bouzaglou, the "Chief Disorganizer" likes you,
or your car, you can participate!
he 2015 edition of Targa started in Thousand Oaks, and I would be
joining my friends Chris Harrell and Dave Stallcup (fellow PCA members)
on the drive in my 1972 911T (a.k.a. Barney). Chris would be driving
his 1973 911T hotrod (a.k.a. The Beast), and Dave got special
dispensation to bring his 1988 924S (his 1972 911T was having its new
paint job finalized).
Of course, the next thing I had to do was to physically arrive in
Thousand Oaks. By Mapquest's calculations, my preferred route down
Highway 101 (instead of continually dodging semi-trucks on I-5), would
be about 425 miles. When I told some of my friends about Targa, and my
plan to drive down there, the conversation went something along these
lines: "Really? In a 43-year old car?" I replied, well, it IS a
Porsche! "So what did you do to get the car ready?" I said, "well, I
washed it, changed the oil, adjusted tire pressures, and autocrossed it
last weekend!" I hoped that my confidence wasn't misplaced, as I had
never driven the car over 200 miles in one day.
As it happened, my optimism was rewarded. Barney motored serenely
down to Thousand Oaks, purring happily in that 3,000 - 4,000 rpm range
that air-cooled Porsches seem to thrive on. And I even got 23 mpg!
There was a fairly large group of cars in the hotel parking lot when I
arrived at about 2:30 in the afternoon. Lots of older (and some newer)
Porsches, along with a nice mix of Corvettes, BMWs, Alfas, and even a
Morgan! It was easy to see that anyone traveling on the Targa route in
the next couple of days would be treated to an exquisite rolling car
show (after moving over to let us pass, of course!)
Shortly after I arrived, my friend Chris showed up (Dave was going to
meet us the following morning) and we picked up the route books and
other information. My eyes got wide, looking at the first day's route:
it was nearly 400 miles, eventually ending up in Scotts Valley, near
Santa Cruz. Having lived in Southern California for 25 years, I was
somewhat familiar with the roads, and eagerly anticipated the first
segment over the route, which followed Highway 166 through the Los
Padres National Forest. Dave arrived the following day in plenty of
time for the driver's meeting, and shortly afterwards, there was a mad
scramble as over 100 cars took to the road. Chris and Dave, being
veterans of a previous Targa, advised waiting until the crowd had
dispersed. Essentially, our three cars would be the "caboose" of the
long train of cars in front of us. As it turned out, we weren't the
caboose for long...
Once the route broke free of Simi Valley and Santa Paula, we headed
into the mountains on Highway 166. Somehow, I got nominated to be the
"leader" of our little group, so I tried to adopt a quick, but
"sensible" pace. We all had radios in our cars, so the pace could be
adjusted if necessary. Soon enough, we began to overtake the cars that
didn't handle as well as old Porsches do. Believe me, we weren't making
these passes because of superior horsepower - Barney only has 125hp from
the 2.2 liter T engine. After an entertaining run down the mountain, we
proceeded through rolling hills, and then through the lovely city of
Taft. This part of California is oil country, so it seemed appropriate
that we were consuming some of those resources in our old Porsches. A
bit further up the road from Taft was our first real regrouping point:
Buttonwillow Raceway Park. The plan was to follow a pace car around the
track, and then return to the paddock area. After getting the GoPro
cameras primed, we joined in. I had never been to Buttonwillow before,
so I had no idea where the track went. I tried to follow the black
lines on the track, instead of the car in front of me. That was a good
decision! The pace car maintained a reasonable pace, but Barney, being
a race car, was chomping at the bit to go faster. Maybe next time.
As I pulled into the paddock area to park, I heard Chris on the radio
saying "Let's do that again!" I was game, but I had shut off my camera,
and was now trying to fumble around with it to record the next session.
I was still fumbling as we passed the starter and headed to the track.
I had to slow way down to get the camera functioning, and when I looked
up, there was....clear track ahead! Naturally, we had to pick up the
pace to rejoin the group. What fun! That brief exposure to the race
track just confirms my commitment to do a DE (Drivers Education) event
sometime this year. I can't wait!
After a brief lunch at the track, we stayed to the west of I-5,
eventually picking up Highway 25, which eventually goes through
Hollister. If you've never driven Highway 25, you're missing out on a
treat. Great rolling terrain, plenty of medium-speed corners,
passing zones, and little traffic. Due to the lack of rain, the
wildflowers weren't the best, but very scenic nevertheless. After
a couple of wrong turns by our fearless leader (me), we eventually made
it to our hotel in Scotts Valley. There, it was time to get dinner
and review the on-track videos we had made. I put a bit over 400
miles on Barney on Day 1. Fortunately, the two upcoming days were
We decided to play caboose again on Day 2, which first featured a run up
Highway 9 and Highway 35 (Skyline Boulevard). These roads were not
much more than paved goat paths, barely 1.5 lanes wide, with plenty of
sharp, blind turns. The dappled sunlight filtering through the
trees made visibility even more dicey. I was glad that Dave was
leading this section, and he did a great job, maintaining a sane, but
entertaining pace. The main goal for the morning was Alice's
Restaurant. We had stopped earlier to take pictures of Palo Alto
from Skyline, so by the time we reached Alice's, the parking lot was a
mob scene. We opted to skip the stop. The lunch suggestion
for the group was Half Moon Bay, not far north of Alice's. Chris
suggested that we deviate from the route book and just follow Highway 84
to the coast. Good call by Chris. We hooked up with a group
of about 8 other Targa participants, and they lead us on a fun, fast
roller coaster ride down to Highway 1. I can't imagine how the
"actual" route could have been more entertaining. After lunch, it
was time to head back to Scotts Valley via Highway 1. Highway 1 is
picturesque, but is clogged with slow/inattentive drivers. I was
happy to turn onto Bonny Doon Road, and get back to the proper Porsche
After a brief time to freshen up, it was time to head to Bruce Canepa's
shop in Scotts Valley. Mere words can't describe the "shop." Go to the
website and marvel at the collection of cars for sale, and for display.
The actual "shop" is equally impressive, with cars as diverse as a
Porsche 906, to a Ferrari 365 GTB4 being serviced. Equally amazing was
the "wall of cars" at the back of the shop. The visit was a fitting end
to another entertaining day.
For Day 3, we again repeated the caboose strategy, and decided to go
elsewhere for breakfast. We found a nice diner a couple of miles
from the hotel, and all had great meals. We were all belted in and
ready to go, and then, the Beast would not start. Early 911s
aren't that complex, so we figured that it was something simple.
Remembering the 3 elements necessary for combustion (air, fuel, spark),
we raised the back lid while Chris tried to start the car again.
No luck. We could smell the fuel (gotta love carburetors), and
I've never heard of old rain-hat style air filters plugging up, so I
grabbed the distributor cap. It was loose. One of the two
clips wasn't attached. Surely that was the issue. Cap
secured, Chris tried again. Nada. So, we pulled the cap off
to find that the end of the rotor had burned off! Of course, the
next question was where we were going to find a rotor for a 1973 Porsche
in Scotts Valley on a Saturday. As always, Google is your friend,
and we soon located an auto parts place nearby. Naturally, the
part wasn't in stock, but the parts book was showing a rotor that was
completely unlike the one we'd removed. The parts guy says:
"I have this other one that looks like yours, but it's for a 914."
Chris bought it anyway. I suggested going back to Canepa to see if
they could help. We did talk to the service manager, and he
checked his personal stash, but came up empty. He did say that the
rotor Chris bought "should" work. Hmmm. At that point the
only logical thing to do was to install the rotor and hope for the best.
After buttoning up the distributor, the tension was thick as Chris tried
again. The Beast fired right up!
So after our 2-hour delay, we headed for Carmel, where lunch awaited.
Owing to our delay, we elected to skip the lunch and proceeded through
the foothills to River Road, which parallels the Salinas River. Again,
we were greeted with beautiful scenery, and great twisty roads.
Eventually, we rolled through King City. With the final destination of
Paso Robles only 60 miles away, we elected to press on. We arrived in
Paso Robles in mid-afternoon, and proceeded to a barbecue restaurant
that Chris and Dave had sampled on their previous Targa. The food was
After early dinner, it was decision time. We had made reservations in
Paso Robles for the night, but we all decided to head back to our
respective homes. Of course, for me that meant another 4.5 hours in the
car, but I didn't mind. I pointed Barney north on Highway 101, and
cruised back home, with a side trip to our hotel in Scotts Valley, where
I had left something.... All in all, Barney and I covered nearly 1,500
miles, with no issues at all. Barney only used one quart of Brad Penn
If you like to drive, you owe it to yourself to participate in Targa
California. I'm hoping to join Chris next year, when we'll drive our