As you know, Michael McMichael (more about his new career later) and I normally only enter rallies where, unless your name is Nigel, you have red hair, bad breath and you are a serial killer, you are welcomed like a lost brother, sister or other. So it came as somewhat of a surprise (let’s be real here, we really suffered a deep trauma that put Michael in intensive care for three weeks) to learn that Targa Tasmania (an internationally renowned tarmac rally over 2000km with almost 40 competitive stages on closed roads where entrants are only approved after invitation) accepted our entry.
Perhaps it was our lack of success in last year’s Classic Adelaide where, despite me having to push our 1990 BMW 3 with the big Alpina engine at the start of every section because the starter motor had died and Michael saying that once he had squeezed his not insubstantial body into the car he wasn’t getting out until the finish, neither of us having any course notes but Michael did remember driving some of the roads when he was 17 but course notes wouldn’t have helped anyway because we didn’t know how to read them and we had no support crew except some woman in the Adelaide Hills Michael had met on Tinder the week before and two Weekend Australian readers who were only looking for the company pens that don’t work anyway, we came second last.
Anyway, Targa Tassie starts next month so we are immediately taking all necessary steps to ensure Targa competition manager Pam Stables is not too embarrassed by her mistake in letting us compete. So on the weekend of March 24 we will be doing a course reconnaissance in a vain attempt to have some idea of where we are going when we cross the start line in Lonnie on April 16. Pam’s competitor instructions suggest that while we are reconnoitring we be friendly to the locals to help them understand the economic and cultural benefits of the event. I don’t know about you but I think this is a really dud idea. Imagine you are sitting in your lounge room in Penguin (population 3849) drinking a Cascade, watching Rosehaven, when there’s a knock on the door. “Oh no,” you say to yourself, “it’s the bloody JWs again out teaching and declaring the good news from the Bible.” Then you open the door and instead of two well-dressed, intelligent JWs, it’s a couple of likely lads with squinty eyes, big hooters, larger bellies and Cascade throats (because Michael drank all the Coopers he brought to last the whole trip on the night cruise over from the mainland on the well-named Spirits, Beers and Wines of Tasmania ferry) saying: “Hullo Tasmanian person, we are from Targa, we won’t be making any of the usual jokes involving multiple heads, sheep and apples, and we’re here to help your economy and culture.” Yes, after running screaming down the hall, I would have rung the police too.
For Targa competitors and other tourists to David Walsh-land, can I suggest a visit to Penguin at Xmas because they dress the 3.15m concrete penguin up in a Santa suit? What kiddie wouldn’t want a selfie with a giant concrete-covered-in-fibreglass Santa Penguin? Anyway, after visiting the sights including the Penguin Market (no, I’m not going to make the joke you expect me too) head straight for the Stagger Inn. Just up Hardy Street, this pub is world class. The night I was there we played eight ball, table tennis, darts, slithered up and down the dance pole, hit the speed ball and did it all under the disco lights and smoke machine. I tell you what, the Plage de la Jetee restaurant in Juan less Pins will have to lift its game to get me back.
I know we have a lot of readers in the Apple Isle and if you are around late-March or during Targa, let me know and you can buy us a drink. Just so you know, our last T-shirt, pen and imitation plastic bag offer cleaned out the Weekend Australianpromotional budget for the next two years, so don’t expect too much.
Well, except this brings me to Michael’s new career. As you know, he is chairman of the Stepney Street-based global multinational conglomerate, Michael McMichael Motors, specialising in the servicing, repairing and going faster of BMWs. He is also the top brain surgeon in the Kensington Hotel ladies lounge and has a Masters of Beer Tasting. In conversation last night, Michael told me he had now decided to take another path in life. One where, he said, he could make an even bigger contribution to world peace and harmony. Friends, isn’t this what the world needs urgently right now? Michael told me exclusively that he was moving into the nude faith healer caper. Look, there are many of us enduring psychic pain related to a feeling of emptiness and disillusion with the material aspects of our life, including things like my son Tom putting in faster laps than me in every race we have recently entered. I know I’ll be calling on Michael’s powers during our reconnoitring later this month. It could make our visits to the locals even more interesting.
Of course, this weekend you would have been at Phillip Island, where they also have penguins but not any giant concrete ones, watching Queensland’s John Carson wheeling his 1968 AMC AMX 390 round the track and Robin Swift’s never-before-seen two Pro-sport 3000’s Group C Cars.