“¡Le andas dando vuelo a la hilacha!” This Spanish phrase commonly used in Mexico literally translates to, “You’re letting the rag fly,” but what it really means is getting the most out of your favorite source of pleasure. And, if you like driving vintage cars on unexplored back roads in the warm Baja sun, then Targa Baja California is your nirvana where you can let your rag fly with a group of like-minded compadres.
This past November, more than 40 vintage cars of all kinds came together in Alpine, Calif., to begin a four-day, 500-plus mile journey around Baja California. From old American iron and classic British chariots to aircooled German wundercars, all were united as one crew for this mobile fiesta. This was not one of those timed competitions where you are thrown a map book and wished good luck, but rather a close-knit group that is out to purely enjoy the camaraderie and magic of the experience. This was the third running of the Targa Baja, which is an offshoot of the very successful annual Targa California event that runs on roads in the Golden State every spring.
Dave Bouzaglou, who is the Chief Disorganizer for Targa California and Targa Baja, led the group over the Mexican border at Tecate where the caravan crossed together and were welcomed by the mayor in a ceremony at the town center. Music was blasting, police shook everyone’s hands, and the local baker made fresh pan dulce for all the drivers and riders to enjoy. The municipal police, in a presidential style, escorted the group out of town behind their cruisers. The police had intersections blocked off for the parade of vintage speed and towns folk lined the street to wave as the cars sped by. Once out of town, the Federales, in their pursuit-spec Hemi Dodge Chargers, picked up the entourage and moved the tour at a spirited gait toward hill-climb stages in the mountains of Baja.
Each day was filled with great drives and plenty of stops to enjoy delicious local foods. The tour visited wineries and large ranches far out in the beautiful Baja countryside. Most of the tour was on roads that were virtually vacant and freshly paved, which let the drivers really enjoy the spectacular scenery and the challenging corners. Each driver went at his or her own pace, and there were many stops planned to keep the group together. There also was a dedicated team of mechanics and flatbed trucks that followed the tour to make sure that no one was left behind, and they provided any assistance for some of the more temperamental machines.
The evenings were like Cars and Coffee events, with great food and libations: hanging out, reliving the day’s drive, and checking out the local restaurants.
On the last day, we had a farewell breakfast and began our spirited cruise up Highway 1 along the beautiful coastline between Ensenada and Tijuana. The Mexican drivers were courteous and helped make for safe motoring. The tour ended with a special “expedited” exit through customs, and the tired but happy group was back in the States safe and sound.
Although the time flew by, the friendships and memories made were indelible. Plans are already being drafted for both Targa California and Targa Baja for 2017, so if you like to enjoy your classic sportscar on some of the finest roads the West has to offer, be sure to visit www.targacalifornia.com for updates.