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Targa remains Glenn's 'Event of the Century'

The lure of competing in Targa Tasmania and driving on brilliant roads in a competition vehicle is the common theme among Targa competitors, whether they be motor mechanics, plumbers, business owners or, in the case of Glenn Ridge, a television and radio personality.

It’s an event that shows no prejudice, and favours only the well prepared.

Ridge, who many will remember as the popular host of the game show Sale of the Century, is about to start his 23rd Targa Tasmania, and is showing no signs of giving up just yet.

“One could suggest that I need to do it (Targa) until I get it right … however, with 2015 being my 23rd Targa Tasmania, I guess if I haven’t got it right by now, I never will,” he jokes.

“Targa Tasmania is a very special time for me, not only because it's an amazing motor racing experience and one I look forward to each year, but also it's a great time to spend with my mates and, in particular, my family.”

This year will be Ridge’s fourth Targa with his son, Oliver, navigating for him, which makes the event extra special.

“Although we give it a good go, my desire has always been to finish the event, as the thrill of crossing the finishing line after five solid days and battling some of the most amazing roads in a competition format is second to none, no matter what position you finish in the field.”

He’s also quick to add that standing on the side of the road watching other cars go past is an ordinary experience, and one he hopes not to partake in.

While Ridge is lining up for his 23rd Targa, it will be his 17th in his Mazda RX7 SP, a car he first drove in 1996, and one that he holds a real soft spot for.

“It’s one of only a very few fully genuine SPs in existence today, and we got it when the Mazda RX7 was at the forefront of Australian Production Car racing. It had won the 1992, 1993 and 1994 Bathurst 12 Hour endurance races, however as its dominance was starting to be threatened, Mazda released the RX7 SP with various unique modifications. 

“Only 28 road going RX7 SPs were manufactured to enable the car to be eligible to qualify for Production Car Racing, which went on to win the 1995 12 hour event at Eastern Creek, and become one of Australia’s most sought after heritage race cars,” he explains.

As well as Targa Tasmania, the car has also competed in numerous other tarmac rallies around Australia, including Targa High Country, Targa West, Mt Buller Sprint, Targa Wrest Point, Rally Tasmania, Dutton Rallies and Classic Adelaide. 

“It has every right to be old and cranky like it's driver, but thankfully it just keeps giving. We love it!” Ridge says.

And while he still loves driving the Mazda, Targa Tasmania holds many other highlights for Ridge.

“The event itself is always a highlight and it's the challenge of the competition that really gets the blood flowing, however camaraderie is obviously a big part of the fun. 

“I enjoy catching up with mates who have also competed for many years now, seeing how badly they've aged … and with whom we recount the same old stories, which we all still politely laugh at.

“Through competing in Targa, I've also developed a real love of Tasmania and regularly return there with friends and family,” he adds.

For many of Targa’s competitors, there lies the blueprint for the event and what keeps them coming back. The goal of the event continues to be the chance to drive your car over some of the world’s best closed-road stages, but the atmosphere of the event and the love of the ‘Targa family’ is such that many regulars simply can’t do without it.

TV star or not, Glenn Ridge is one of those regulars.

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