Distractible Dave, on the other hand, was squeezing in some sightseeing. We had been teamed up in Porsche's "factory entry" because we were both reporters--he writes for Canada's National Post--and motorsport was new to him. I think he liked it, but his head wasn't always in the game. An example of this occurred during Leg 5, when I was driving the very fastest. (About 75 percent of the way through a long stage of 25 miles, the trip computer's average speed function had us at 135 mph.) Sometime that morning, we came to a hilltop crest indicated in the navigational road book and got a sliver of air. Then I held on to the car through a right-hand kink and took a dart through a downhill left-hander leading to a bridge. With spectators and houses along the road and small waves flobbering the beach, the potential for destroying human life, real property, and one stud automobile was immediate, and yet this was the moment Distractible Dave chose to instruct, "Look at the jugs on that woman!"
Establishing such efficient teamwork had taken all week. At first, the concept of teamwork had seemed unattainable. To employ another word used in a special sense by Newfoundlanders, Distractible Dave was a real blather. "Try the Gillette Atra Turbo razor," he said. "Use echinacea for your cold. Why do the CBC news readers say 'kilo-MEET-ers'? Nobody says that--it's 'ki-LOM-eters.' Have you ever noticed how the back of an Aztek looks like a garbage truck?" He told all about how hockey great Tim Horton, cofounder of the nationwide doughnut chain, died in a Pantera. He had me explain about the Pantera. And why the Jetta is so popular with thirty-year-olds. And why the Camaro and Firebird died. He explained to me the Canadians' love of doughnuts. One of the first things he described--for everybody waiting at a coffee bar--was the problem he'd once had with his bladder during a traffic jam. He narrated a previous experience with participatory journalism, in which he was gored by a rodeo bull. When he drove the 911 Targa during a transit stage, he smeared sausage stick against the horn pad while explaining to me how sausage sticks had really taken off in Canada. He explained how Canadians prefer coffee "double-double"--with double cream and double sugar--and what offended response that imperative will get you in jolly old London. But, eventually, he managed to bear down on the road book's tulip diagrams, and I gained complete faith in him, also growing to like the guy in heaps and bunches.
Aside from the meteor-shower driving, really the most interesting part of the week was hearing the responses of Newfoundlanders upon their first exposure to the 911 Targa. Michael Gosse, sixteen years old, of Portugal Cove, hadn't even been bothering to study for his driver's license. His mother's Mercury Topaz was hardly an incentive. "I'm too lazy to read the book," he said. "The book is, like, that thick. Had something like that [the 911 Targa] now, be out trying to get me license every day." Was it his idea of a cool car? "Somethin' like that. Likes Vipers, too."