Targa race organizers look north away from Nelson
By Timothy Schafer, The Nelson Daily
Nelson’s loss is Nakusp’s gain.
At least that is how the mayor of the town 150 kilometres north of Nelson sees it. Karen Hamling and her council have welcomed the organizers of the Targa Canada West Inc. auto race circuit to their community, while the same group was dismissed by some City councilors in Nelson on a similar ocassion.
Mayor Hamling said plans are progressing to stage a stop for the circuit in Nakusp next year, likely in spring.
She had written a letter of support for the race and has set up a meeting with Targa, the economic development board for the town and the Nakusp Chamber of Commerce on how the race could be pulled off.
“I don’t really see it being a problem in Nakusp,” she said. “It will be great because it will be something different for us … and it will be something that boosts our economy, which is something we really need right now.”
In October of 2009, despite the suggestion of an injection of tourism dollars and international exposure, the fledgling idea for a Targa stop for Nelson was rejected outright by one city councilor and the idea died on the roadside.
The city was being touted as one possible host to one of six stops on the proposed 2011 circuit.
Using local highways and some city roads, the race would see up to 120 teams (with four people on each crew) and 500 people descend on the city for the race, along with hundreds of race fans, media sponsors and plenty lot of international attention, said Targa events manager, Eva Hernandez, at the time.
Although the economic advantage of the race was apparent, said Nelson Counc. Kim Charlesworth, she could not support the race philosophy since, at its core, it promoted the burning of fossil fuels.
She thought an event that promoted further degradation of air quality and contributed to climate change was inappropriate for Nelson.
There would be a complete sustainability plan dealing with everything from carbon offsets to recycling developed for the event, Hernandez had said.
She also pointed out there were a lot of other tourist-based events more destructive to the environment than the race is expected to be. Targa utilizes the existing infrastructure, she said, and they are not looking to create a permanent resort.
Mayor John Dooley said 90 per cent of the tourists that come to the region expend fossil fuels to do so, and consume even more when they partake in such pursuits as heli-skiing.
What is Targa?
The race would use a wide range of street legal cars, from the Mini Cooper to the Mach 1 Ford Mustang, equipped with various stages of safety equipment, from nothing but a seat belt to full roll cages and safety gear.
The six-day event is comprised of 40 special stages totaling over 500 cumulative kilometres. Throughout each day there are special scheduled stops for car re-fueling, inspection and repair.
On some evenings the cars may be on display in the host community and drivers would be available for autographs and photos in a car show type of setting.