TARGA Official Spotlight: Sari Makela

The longevity and loyalty of TARGA officials sustains the famous tarmac rally, and Sari Makela is one such official.

Sari’s first TARGA experience was twenty years ago as a primary recorder in Derby at TARGA Tasmania.

With several years as primary recorder, starting with manual timing clocks, Sari’s progressed alongside the timing technology at TARGA to her most recent role as Time Control In Operator for the Stage Team.

We caught up with Sari to reflect on her fond TARGA memories and event highlights.

What was your very first TARGA event like & how did you get involved? 

My very first TARGA event as an official was the year 2003 at Derby – as Primary Recorder at the Flying Finish. We had family living at Winnaleah who asked if we wanted to help out as they needed volunteers. I was Primary Recorder at the Flying Finish for a total of 7 years straight, 3 years at Derby, then 4 years at Legerwood.

2010, when the teams started I switched ends and became the Start Timer on Josh Hill’s team for 4 years. During these years I also did the first 3 TARGA High Country events in Victoria where our team was combined with Pontus Reutersward’s team. There were a couple of Wrest Points slotted in there as well. In 2013, I moved to Canada and missed the next 5 years but upon returning to Tasmania in 2019, I was immediately asked by Geoff Pilgrim to join his team. It was great to come back and get involved again. I really missed it while I was away

What is your fondest memory of TARGA? 

My fondest memories are when the day is over, getting together as a group for dinner and bonding with your team members. Also seeing the progression in technology over the years from the manual timing clocks to laptops and now RallySafe. However, at the end of each TARGA, during the final stages, the best memories are when the drivers stop and thank you for your contribution during the week. Knowing how much they appreciate our efforts is what keeps me coming back.

What is a TARGA moment or story you’ll never forget?

There are a few moments that I will never forget! As a spectator – watching Peter Brock limp by in the Monaro as it was running out of fuel, that was heartbreaking to watch.

As an official – at the start watching some brilliant starts in particular the A9X Toranas that used to give us some spectacular shows. 

Memories of the weather playing havoc, gale-force winds, sideways rain, sitting on a chair with a stream of water running under you, trying to keep the laptop dry, finish the event, pack up and start driving to the next location and its brilliant sunshine.

Are there any significant people who have played an important role in your TARGA experiences?

The TARGA Family that you develop more and more each year, these people become your lifelong friends. You may not see much of them during the year but when it’s TARGA time again the friendships continue to grow from the previous years. 

What was your first car like? 

A 1970 yellow Corona, if the passenger wasn’t ready for it they would slide off the seat when the car was going around a corner. Plus I couldn’t drive it faster than 70-80km without it overheating, which was okay while in the city but not so great trying to get from Adelaide to Mt Gambier, normally a 5-hour trip that took nearly 10 hours.  

You can only choose one song to listen to while driving for the rest of your days; name that song! 

As a driving song, Tom Cochrane – Life Is A Highway is the only one that comes to mind right now.

You have two empty spots in your dream garage; name one classic car and one modern car that you’d park there.

1948 Holden (but only if it has the same setup as #215 that used to be in TARGA, I miss seeing that car)
So many modern cars to choose from but most likely a Corvette.