Information About Australian Tarmac Rallies

I got the following write up on tarmac rallying in Australia that many of you might find interesting from Adam Spence of Redback Racing.  Redback Racing rents competition cars to people who want to compete in some of the tarmac rallies in that area.

The World of Tarmac Rally

Over Christmas I was lucky enough to visit Brescia, Italy and visit the Mille Miglia Motor Museum, which is an unbelievable historical look at what was the longest running road race.   It ran from 1927 to 1957, before being cancelled due to a number of deaths to not just competitors but also spectators. The Mille Miglia ran slightly longer than Italy’s other famous Tarmac event, the legendary Targa Florio.

If you ever get the opportunity to visit this museum I can’t recommend it enough.  Once Europe really was the place to be for these kinds of events……however times have changed. 

The Legendary Aussie Racer Jim Richards 


With Targa Tasmania and its offshoots Targa High Country and Targa Wrest Point Australia arguably has the best of the best for this style of tarmac rally event. Europe may have the history but Australia is definitely the future for Tarmac Rally 

Eric Bana’s Ford from “Love The Beast”


Many of you may have read of Kelly Silverthorns adventures at Targa New Zealand, an event that I competed in 2002, 2003 and 2004. Targa New Zealand is a fantastic,  highly challenging rally through the North Island where the team is required to drive in over 600km’s of closed road stages with notes released only hours before. With no reconnaissance or additional co driver notes, the crew race on these roads essentially blind.

I have previously competed in these events in a variety of vehicles including a Renault Spider Trophy and Toyota MR2.

From early beginnings in 2002 with a single car team, Redbackracing now consists of 7 cars built around a passion for Mazda’s – both the MX5 and the twin turbo rotary powered RX7. Additionally to satisfy increasing demands, we are about to debut a BMW 130i – the first of 2 we plan to run in Targa Tasmania this year. These cars are all prepared and serviced together and with this in mind run within a single team which is both fun and rewarding. This in turn means we can pool resources such as service vehicles, accommodation, refueling points and the all important team dinners where many stories are shared from the day’s activities.

A Redback Racing MX5


It is fantastic having both overseas visitors, regulars and first time crews sharing the experience of the ultimate thrill – being able to drive a high performance vehicle on closed public roads of the highest standard.



The Redback Racing RX7 on a lovely series of curves 


So those of you sitting back wishing you too could run a car in Tarmac Rally events – NOW YOU CAN. After experience the highs and the high costs associated in competing in these events, a friend and I came up with the idea of owning and making available to like minded individuals, cars that can be leased and raced at Australian events.

With the logistics of getting and preparing a vehicle (or team) for events in New Zealand becoming more and more difficult, I and the Redbackracing team now make Australian based events our priority.

Let’s take a look at the three Targa events that now take place annually in Australia.

The Australian Tarmac rally championship kicks off with Targa High Country, a three day event held just outside Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne in an area which is normally covered by snow in the winter and mountain bike enthusiasts and hikers in the summer.


A Redback Racing BMW


The event commences with a street stage through towns where locals, who don’t receive many tourists in the summer welcome the huge influx in visitors (over 200 cars and crew) and then onto two days of racing on fantastic alpine roads that wind their way through the stunning high country.

Two days of racing and over 200kms of closed roads decides the winners in each if the categories. In the inaugural 2010 event our team’s best result was a second in the showroom class.

The second event in the championship is Targa Wrestpoint, an event held in Australia’s island state of Tasmania. Targa Wrestpoint, which first ran in 2009, starts and finishes from the Wrestpoint Casino in Hobart – Australia’s first Casino.

Targa Wrestpoint is the smallest of all three events in the championship at two days in length.  Within this compact schedule some 200km’s of racing takes place in the south of Tasmania on many roads that in previous years were stages in the longer running Targa Tasmania events.

Targa Wrestpoint is often used by many of the serious competitors as a warm up for the main Targa event held just 10 weeks later.

The third and some say ultimate road event is Targa Tasmania; a 6 day marathon held in April is the epitome of Tarmac Rally. Day after day of challenging driving conditions over the most stunning roads available in Tasmania – if not the world. Our MX5s will just make it through on a set of semi slick tyres if the event is all dry but in its 19 previous events this has only happened once.

One of our overseas customers for this historic event will be Kelly Silverthorn and Duane Bentley from Canada; they will be joining some big names from both Australian and International Motorsport. This is a return trip for Kelly in one of our cars having previously finished first in our team back in 2009


Peter Halluk’s Triumph


This coming year is going to be historically significant for the event with it marking its 20th anniversary. Participants to be celebrating this event to the full potential and there are of course many rumors about who and what will be competing.  Everyone in the team is extremely excited about competing.

2011 sees the event held in early April to accommodate the record number of entrants. 400 plus vehicles, drivers, co-drivers and service and support crews, most of who will attest that Targa Tasmania is like racing a complete racing season in six days.

Any of you wishing to get a better understanding of just what it is like competing in Targa Tasmania, I recommend you watch a movie, LOVE THE BEAST. This movie with Australian actor Eric Bana uses Targa Tasmania footage at its core and shows just what an epic event it is.

So if any of you out there would like to learn more or enquire about joining the team just drop me a note.

I have listed some web sites and video footage for reference.


Adam Spence

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