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The Targa Florio (“Florio Plate”) was an open road endurance automobile race held in the mountains of Sicily near the island's capital of Palermo. Founded in 1906, it was the oldest sports car racing event, part of the World Sportscar Championship between 1955 and 1973. While the first races consisted of a whole tour of the island, the track length in the race's last decades was limited to the 72 kilometres (45 mi) of the Circuito Piccolo delle Madonie, which was lapped 11 times.

Targa Florio
CategoryEndurance
CountryTour of Island of Sicily, Italy
Inaugural season1906
Folded1977
Last Drivers' championItaly Raffaele Restivo,
Italy Alfonso Merendino
Last Constructors' championUnited Kingdom  Chevron B36 BMW
Official websitewww.targa-florio.it
Alessandro Cagno (1883-1971), winner of first Targa Florio in 1906. Pictured at 1907 event.

After 1973, it was a national sports car event until it was discontinued in 1977 due to safety concerns. It has since been run as a rallying event, and is part of the Italian Rally Championship.

Contents

HistoryEdit

 
Vincenzo Trucco, winner of the 1908 Targa Florio driving an Isotta Fraschini
 
Vincenzo Lancia driving a Fiat 50 hp in 1908 Targa Florio, finished 2nd.

The race was created in 1906 by the wealthy pioneer race driver and automobile enthusiast, Vincenzo Florio, who had started the Coppa Florio race in Brescia, Lombardy in 1900. The Targa also claimed to be a worldly event not to be missed. Renowned artists, such as Alexandre Charpentier and Leonardo Bistolfi, were commissioned to design medals. A magazine was initiated, Rapiditas, which aimed to enhance, with graphic and photographic reproductions of the race, the myth of the car and the typical character of modern life, speed.[1]

One of the toughest competitions in Europe, the first Targa Florio covered 3 laps equalling 277 miles (446 km) through multiple hairpin curves on treacherous mountain roads, at heights where severe changes in climate frequently occurred. Alessandro Cagno won the inaugural 1906 race in nine hours, averaging 30 miles per hour (50 km/h).

By the mid-1920s, the Targa Florio had become one of Europe's most important races, as neither the 24 Hours of Le Mans nor the Mille Miglia had been established yet. Grand Prix races were still isolated events, not a series like today's F1.

The wins of Mercedes (not yet merged with Benz) in the 1920s made a big impression in Germany, especially that of German Christian Werner in 1924, as he was the first non-Italian winner since 1920. Rudolf Caracciola repeated a similar upset win at the Mille Miglia a couple of years later. In 1926, Eliska Junkova, one of the great female drivers in Grand Prix motor racing history, became the first woman to ever compete in the race.

In 1953, the FIA World Sportscar Championship was introduced. The Targa became part of it in 1955, when Mercedes had to win 1-2 with the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR in order to beat Ferrari for the title. They had missed the first two of the 6 events, Buenos Aires and the 12 Hours of Sebring, where Ferrari, Jaguar, Maserati and Porsche scored. Mercedes appeared at and won in the Mille Miglia, then pulled out of Le Mans as a sign of respect for the victims of the 1955 Le Mans disaster, but won the Tourist Trophy at Dundrod. Stirling Moss/Peter Collins and Juan Manuel Fangio/Karl Kling finished minutes ahead of the best Ferrari and secured the title.

Course variantsEdit

Several versions of the track were used. It started with a single lap of a 146 km (91 mi) circuit from 1906-1911 and 1931. From 1912 to 1914 a tour around the perimeter of Sicily was used, with a single lap of 975 kilometres (606 mi), lengthened to 1,080 kilometres (670 mi) from 1948 to 1950. The 146 km "Grande" circuit was then shortened twice, the first time to 108 km (67 mi), the version used from 1919-1930, and then to the 72 km (45 mi) circuit used from 1932 to 1936 and 1951 to 1977. From 1951-1958, the long coastal island tour variant was used for a separate event called the Giro di Sicilia (Lap of Sicily).

The start and finish took place at Cerda. The counter-clockwise lap lead from Caltavuturo and Collesano from an altitude over 600 metres (1,970 ft) down to sea level, where the cars raced from Campofelice di Roccella on the Buonfornello straight along the coast, a straight over 6 km (3.7 mi) longer than the Mulsanne Straight at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans. The longest version of the circuit went south through Caltavuturo (whereas the shortest version of the open-road circuit went east just before entry into Caltavuturo, through a mountainous section directly to Collesano) through an extended route through elevation changes, and swept through the nearby towns of Castellana and Sottana, twisting around mountains up to the town of Castelbuono and rejoined the most recent version of the track at Collesano. The second version of the track also went south through Caltavuturo and took a shortcut starting right before Castellana to Collesano via the town of Polizzi Generosa. There was a closed circuit called Favorita Park used from 1937-1940.

The challenge of the Targa was unprecedented in its difficulty and the driving experience of any of the course variants was unlike any other circuit in the world other than perhaps that of the Nurburgring in Germany. The original Grande 146 km (91 mi) circuit had in the realm of 2,000 corners per lap, the 108 km (67 mi) Medio had about 1,300-1,400 corners per lap and the final iteration of the course, the 72 km (45 mi) Piccolo circuit had about 800-900 corners per lap. To put that in perspective, most purpose built circuits have between 12 and 18 corners, and the longest purpose built circuit in the world, the 13-mile Nurburgring, has about 180 corners. So learning any of the Targa Florio courses was extremely difficult and required, like most long circuits, at least 60 laps to learn the course- and unlike the purpose-built Nurburgring, the course had to be learned properly in public traffic, and one lap would take about an hour to do in a road car- if there was little to no traffic.

Lap speedsEdit

Like a rally event (and the Isle of Man TT), the race cars were started one by one every 15 seconds for a time trial, as a start from a full grid was not possible on the tight and twisty roads.

Although the public road circuit used for the Targa was extremely challenging- it was a very different kind of circuit and race from any other race on the sportscar calendar. All of the circuit variations of the Targa had so many corners that lap speeds at the Targa never went higher than 80 mph (128 km/h). Helmut Marko set the lap record in 1972 in an Alfa Romeo 33TT3 at 33 min 41 s at an average of 128.253 km/h (79.693 mph) during an epic charge where he made up 2 minutes on Arturo Merzario and his Ferrari 312PB.[2] The fastest ever was Leo Kinnunen in 1970, lapping in the Porsche 908/3 at 128.571 km/h (79.890 mph) or 33 min 36 seconds flat.[3]

Due to the track's length, drivers practised in the week before the race in public traffic, often with their race cars fitted with license plates. Porsche factory drivers even had to watch onboard videos, a sickening experience for some. The lap record for the 146 km "Grande" circuit was 2 hours 3 min 54.8 seconds set by Achille Varzi in a Bugatti Type 51 at the 1931 race at an average speed of 70.7 km/h (43.931 mph).[4] The lap record for the 108 km "Medio" circuit was 1 hour 21 min 21.6 seconds set by Varzi in an Alfa Romeo P2 at an average speed of 79.642 km/h (49.487 mph) at the 1930 race.[5] The fastest completion around the short version of the island tour was done by Giovanni "Ernesto" Ceirano in a SCAT at the 1914 race, completed in 16 hours, 51 minutes and 31.6 seconds from May 24–25, 1914.[6] The fastest completion of the long version of the island tour was by Mario and Franco Bornigia in an Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Competizione, completed in 12 hours, 26 minutes and 33 seconds flat at the 1950 race at an average speed of 86.794 km/h (53.931 mph).[7]

1970s, safety and demiseEdit

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, race cars with up to 600 hp (450 kW) such as Nino Vaccarella's Ferrari 512S raced through small mountain villages while spectators sat or stood right next to, or even on, the road. Porsche, on the other hand, did not race its big Porsche 917, but rather the nimble Porsche 908/03 Spyders.

Due to safety concerns, especially by Helmut Marko, who called the race "totally insane", the last Targa Florio as a World Sportscar Championship race was run in 1973; where during this event it became impossible to retain its international status after a number of horrendous and two fatal accidents at the event; one which privateer Charles Blyth crashed his Lancia Fulvia HF into a trailer at the end of the Buonfornello straight and was killed; and another where an Italian driver crashed his Alpine-Renault into a group of spectators, killing one. There were several other accidents during practice for the 1973 event in which a total of seven spectators sustained injuries. In that year, even a Porsche 911 Carrera RSR won as the prototypes such as Jacky Ickx's Ferrari suffered crashes or other troubles. Another reason for the Targa's international demise was because international automotive governing body, the FIA, mandated safety walls on all circuits that were going to hold FIA-mandated events; and the 44-mile (71 km) length of combined public roads made this simply impossible and totally impractical, especially from a financial standpoint. The Targa was continued as a national event for some years, before a crash in 1977 which killed 2 spectators and seriously injured 5 others (including the driver) sealed its fate. The 1977 race was forcibly taken over by local police and was stopped on the 4th lap, and it also saw 2 other drivers having serious accidents; one of them was critically injured, but survived.

Although the Targa Florio was a rally-type race that took place on closed-off Sicilian public mountain roads with (aside from straw bales and weak guardrails at some of the turns, the latter were installed by the island's government) practically no safety features, only 9 people – including spectators –died at the event over the 71 year and 61 race history using a total of 6 circuit configurations. This amount is relatively small compared to other open road races, like the Mille Miglia, where over a period of 30 years and 24 races, 56 people lost their lives and the Carrera Panamericana, where over a period of 5 years and 5 races, 25 people were killed. This is probably due to the fact that the mountain roads were extremely twisty and average lap speeds never reached even 80 mph (130 km/h) even up to the final years of the race's history, even with the very long straight at the northernmost of the track.

LegacyEdit

After winning the race several times, Porsche named the hardtop convertible version of the 911 after the Targa. The name targa means plaque or plate, see targa top.

The Australian-made Leyland P76 had a special version named Targa Florio to commemorate victory by journalist-rallyist Evan Green on a Special Stage of the 1974 London-Sahara-Munich World Cup Rally which was held on the Targa Florio course.[8]

Since 1992 the event has lent its name to a modern recreation, staged half-a-world away in the form of the famous road rally Targa Tasmania held on the island state of Tasmania, off the Southern coast of Australia. There are also the Targa New Zealand since 1995, and the Targa Newfoundland since 2002.

2017 will celebrate the 101st Anniversary of the Targa Florio and the first time the event has left Italy. This is an amazing attraction for Victoria, Australia and all car enthusiasts. The event, tours Victoria’s coast and countryside from November 29th to December 3rd and features over 150 of the world’s most admirable cars and is expected to attract fans, celebrities and media from across the globe.

The Targa Florio Australian Tribute (TFAT - https://www.targaflorioaustralia.com/) is a regularity event for classic cars produced in the years between 1906 and 1976. Cars competed over 4 days on Victoria’s open roads at regulated speed. As part of the event there were 56 trials across the 4 days. The inaugural event was a huge success and was repeated in 2018. The 3rd Targa Florio Australian Tribute 2019 will be held in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, from 27 November to 1 December 2019.

WinnersEdit

[9]

Year Winner Car Time Distance
(km)
Speed
(km/h)
Laps Course Variant
1906   Alessandro Cagno Itala 35/40 HP 9:32:22 446.469 46.80 3 Grande Circuit (146 km)
1907   Felice Nazzaro Fiat 28/40 HP 8:17:36 446.469 53.83 3
1908   Vincenzo Trucco Isotta Fraschini 50 HP 7:49:26 446.469 57.06 3
1909   Francesco Ciuppa S.P.A. 28/40 HP 2:43:19 148.823 54.67 1
1910   Franco Tullio Cariolato Franco Automobili 35/50 HP 6:20:47 297.646 46.90 2
1911   Giovanni "Ernesto" Ceirano SCAT 22/32 HP 9:32:22[citation needed] 446.469 46.80 3
1912   Cyril Snipe SCAT 25/35 HP 24:37:19 979.000 41.44 1 Island Tour (short) (979 km)
1913   Felice Nazzaro Nazzaro Tipo 2 19:18:40 979.000 50.70 1
1914   Giovanni "Ernesto" Ceirano SCAT 22/32 16:51:31 979.000 58.07 1
1919   André Boillot Peugeot EXS 7:51:01.8 432 55 4 Media Circuit (108 km)
1920   Guido Meregalli Nazzaro GP 8:27:23.8 432 50.924 4
1921   Giulio Masetti Fiat 451 7:25:05.2 432 58.236 4
1922   Giulio Masetti Mercedes GP/14 6:50:50.2 432 63.091 4
1923   Ugo Sivocci Alfa Romeo RL Targa Florio 7:18:00.2 432 59.177 4
1924   Christian Werner Mercedes Tipo Indy 2,0 6:32:37.4 432 66.010 4
1925   Bartolomeo Costantini Bugatti T35 7:32:27.2 540 71.609 5
1926   Bartolomeo Costantini Bugatti T35T 7:20:45.0 540 73.507 5
1927   Emilio Materassi Bugatti T35C 7:35:55.4 540 71.065 5
1928   Albert Divo Bugatti T35B 7:20:56.6 540 73.478 5
1929   Albert Divo Bugatti T35C 7:15:41.7 540 74.366 5
1930   Achille Varzi Alfa Romeo P2 6:55:16.6 540 78.010 5
1931   Tazio Nuvolari Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 Monza 9:00:27.0 584 64.834 4 Grande Circuit (146 km)
1932   Tazio Nuvolari Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 Monza 7:15:50.6 574 79.296 8 Piccolo Circuit (72 km)
1933   Antonio Brivio Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 Monza 6:35:03.0 504 76.729 7
1934   Achille Varzi Alfa Romeo Tipo-B P3 6:14:26.8 432 69.222 6
1935   Antonio Brivio Alfa Romeo Tipo-B P3 5:27:29.0 432 80.010 6
1936   Constantino Magistri Lancia Augusta 2:08:47.2 144 67.088 2
1937   Giulio Severi Maserati 6CM 2:55'49.0 315.6 107.704 60 Favorita Park (5.26 km)
1938   Giovanni Rocco Maserati 6CM 1:30'04.6 171.6 114.303 30
1939   Luigi Villoresi Maserati 6CM 1:40.15.4 228 136.445 40
1940   Luigi Villoresi Maserati 4CL 1:36.08.6 228 142.288 40
1948   Clemente Biondetti
  Igor Troubetzkoy
Ferrari 166 SC 12:12'00.0 1080 88.866 1 Island Tour (long) (1080 km)
1949   Clemente Biondetti
  Aldo Benedetti
Ferrari 166 SC 13:15.09.4 1080 81.494 1
1950   Mario Bornigia
  Giancarlo Bornigia
Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Competizione 12:26.33.0 1080 86.794 1
1951   Franco Cortese Frazer Nash 7:31.04.8 576 76.631 8 Piccolo Circuit (72 km)
1952   Felice Bonetto Lancia Aurelia B20 7:11.58.0 576 76.631 8
1953   Umberto Maglioli Lancia D20 3000 7:08.35.8 576 80.635 8
1954   Piero Taruffi Lancia D24 6:24.18.0 576 89.930 8
1955   Stirling Moss
  Peter Collins
Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR 9:43.14.0 936 96.290 13
1956   Umberto Maglioli
  Huschke von Hanstein
Porsche 550 7:54.52.6 720 90.770 10
1957   Fabio Colona Fiat 600 - 359 - 5
1958   Luigi Musso
  Olivier Gendebien
Ferrari 250 TR 58 10:37.58.1 1008 94.801 14
1959   Edgar Barth
  Wolfgang Seidel
Porsche 718 RSK 11:02.21.8 1008 91.309 14
1960   Jo Bonnier
  Hans Herrmann
Porsche 718 RS 60 7:33.08.2 720 95.320 10
1961   Wolfgang von Trips
  Olivier Gendebien
Ferrari Dino 246 SP 6:57.39.4 720 103.433 10
1962   Willy Mairesse
  Ricardo Rodriguez
  Olivier Gendebien
Ferrari Dino 246 SP 7:02'56.3 720 102.143 10
1963   Jo Bonnier
  Carlo Maria Abate
Porsche 718 GTR 6:55.45.1 720 109.908 10
1964   Colin Davis
  Antonio Pucci
Porsche 904 GTS 7:10.53.3 720 100.258 10
1965   Nino Vaccarella
  Lorenzo Bandini
Ferrari 275 P2 7:01:12.4 720 102.563 10
1966   Willy Mairesse
  Herbert Müller
Porsche Carrera 6[10] 7:16:32.6 720 98.910 10
1967   Paul Hawkins
  Rolf Stommelen
Porsche 910 [11] 6:37.01.0 720 108.812 10
1968   Vic Elford
  Umberto Maglioli
Porsche 907 6:28:47.9 720 111.112 10
1969   Gerhard Mitter
  Udo Schütz
Porsche 908/2 6:07:45.3 720 117.469 10
1970   Jo Siffert
  Brian Redman
Porsche 908/3[12] 6:35.30.0 792 120.152 11
1971   Nino Vaccarella
  Toine Hezemans
Alfa Romeo 33/3 6:35:46.2 792 120.070 11
1972   Arturo Merzario
  Sandro Munari
Ferrari 312PB 6:27:48.0 792 122.537 11
1973   Herbert Müller
  Gijs van Lennep
Porsche 911 Carrera RSR [13] 6:54:20.1 792 114.691 11
1974   Gérard Larrousse
  Amilcare Ballestrieri
Lancia Stratos [14] 4:35:02.6 576 114.883 8
1975   Nino Vaccarella
  Arturo Merzario
Alfa Romeo 33TT12 [15] 4:59:16.7 576 120.895 8
1976   "Amphicar"*
  Armando Floridia
Osella PA4-BMW [16] 5:43:46.0 576 99.090 8
1977   Raffaele Restivo
  Alfonso Merendino
Chevron B36-BMW [16] 2:41:17.0 288 107.140 4
  • "Amphicar"'s actual name was Eugenio Renna.

Races between 1955 and 1973 were part of the World Championship, with the 1957 race not a race but a regularity test, following the Mille Miglia accident.

Wins by makeEdit

 
Porsche 910 2.0 coupé driven by Umberto Maglioli and Udo Schütz in 1967.
 
Alfa Romeo RL Targa Florio
 
1927-Bugatti T35c driven by Materassi
 
Maserati 26MM driven by Luigi Fagioli in 1928

The list below includes all car manufacturers who have attained a podium. The table does not include the results of the 1957 edition, which was held as a regularity race.

Pos. Brand 1st
place
2nd
place
3rd
place
Fastest
laps
1   Porsche 11 9 12 8
2   Alfa Romeo 10 13 7 10
3   Ferrari 7 6 4 7
4   Lancia 5 7 5 4
5   Bugatti 5 4 5 6
6   Maserati 4 6 9 4
7   Mercedes-Benz 3 2 1 4
8   SCAT 3 0 0 0
9   Fiat 2 3 3 2
10   Nazzaro 2 0 0 0
11   Itala 1 2 1 1
12   Osella 1 1 1 2
13   Peugeot 1 1 1 1
14   Chevron 1 1 0 0
15   Società Piemontese Automobili S.P.A. 1 0 1 1
16   Franco 1 0 0 1
17   Isotta Fraschini 1 0 0 0
17   Frazer-Nash 1 0 0 0
19   Ballot 0 1 1 0
19   Cisitalia 0 1 1 0
19   De Vecchi 0 1 1 0
22   Osca 0 1 0 1
23   Aquila Italiana 0 1 0 0
23   Sigma 0 1 0 0
25   Lola 0 0 1 1
26   Abarth 0 0 1 0
26   Alfa-Maserati-Prete 0 0 1 0
26   Berliet 0 0 1 0
26   Darracq 0 0 1 0
26   Diatto 0 0 1 0
26   Steyr 0 0 1 0
32   Aston Martin 0 0 0 1

See alsoEdit

Further readingEdit

  • Clarke, R M, ed. (1999). Targa Florio: The Ferrari & Lancia Years, 1948-1954. Cobham, Surrey, UK: Brooklands Books. ISBN 1855204983.
  • Clarke, R M, ed. (1999). Targa Florio: The Porsche & Ferrari Years, 1955-1964. Cobham, Surrey, UK: Brooklands Books. ISBN 1855204878.
  • Clarke, R M, ed. (1999). Targa Florio: The Porsche Years, 1965-1973. Cobham, Surrey, UK: Brooklands Books. ISBN 1855204886.
  • Valenza, Giuseppe (2007). Targa Florio Il Mito: Legenda Editore (Italy). ISBN 9788888165172.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ ‹See Tfd›(in Italian) Florio, Vincenzo, by Simone Candela - Treccani Dizionario Biografico degli Italiani - Volume 48 (1997)
  2. ^ "56th Targa Florio 1972". formula2.net. Retrieved 2008-07-13.
  3. ^ "Leo Kinnunen". forix.autosport.com. Retrieved 2008-07-13.
  4. ^ "Targa Florio 1931". Formula2.net. 2001-08-26. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  5. ^ "Targa Florio 1930". Formula2.net. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  6. ^ "1914 Targa Florio - The AUTOSPORT Bulletin Board". Forums.autosport.com. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  7. ^ "Targa Florio 1950". Formula2.net. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  8. ^ "The Leyland P76 a brief history". Themotorreport.com.au. 2008-06-09. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
  9. ^ "F2 Register - Index". Formula2.net. Retrieved 2011-10-18.
  10. ^ "Race report". Imca-slotracing.com. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
  11. ^ "Race report". Imca-slotracing.com. Retrieved 2011-05-12.
  12. ^ Race report 54th TARGA FLORIO
  13. ^ Race report TARGA FLORIO (ROUND #6)
  14. ^ "World Sports Racing Prototypes - Non Championship Races 1974". Wsrp.ic.cz. Retrieved 2013-01-05.
  15. ^ "World Sports Racing Prototypes - Non Championship Races 1975". Wsrp.ic.cz. Retrieved 2013-01-05.
  16. ^ a b "World Sports Racing Prototypes - Non Championship Races 1976". Wsrp.ic.cz. Retrieved 2013-01-05.

External linksEdit