Road Racing Targa Florio
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Targa Florio - Sicily

by Dennis David

"…to this day the toughest true road-racing circuit in the world…" Dr. Ing. h.c. Ferry Porsche, from "We at Porsche", 1976.

The name Porsche was associated with Targa Florio as early as 1922, when four Austro-Daimler Saschas were entered… but that's another story. It wasn't until 1956 that a car with the Porsche name was entered, and it won.

Targa Florio was organized by a young racing enthusiast, Vincenzo Florio, member of a prominent Sicilian family. Vincenzo Florio brought the first motorized vehicle to Sicily. He organized the first Sicilian motor race, consisting of his motorcycle, an automobile and a horse... the horse won. After obtaining a race car, he wanted to enter into international auto racing but was prevented by his older brother. When he reached an age that he could race without permission of his brother, he entered every race he could. Seeing Vincenzo's enthusiasm for the sport, Henri Desgrange, editor of l'Auto, suggested to Vincenzo that he should organize an international race in Sicily.

The first Targa Florio was not so much a race as it was an ordeal. Established in 1906 a single lap was approximately 92 miles over roads not designed for automobiles. Drivers also had to contend with severe changes in climate, bandits and wolves. Each hairpin competed with a sheer abyss for the driver's attention over a 3-lap race of 277 miles. Initially there were few rules and open to standard cars of which at least ten identical models had been built. The first race was held on the sixth of May 1906. Only ten cars made it to the starting line due to a dock strike in Genoa. After nine hours the race was over and the winner for the Italian team was Alessandro Cagno at an average speed of 29.06 mph. The race proved very popular with the local populace and next year's race brought more than 50 entries. In 1907 the race was held on April 22. Felice Nazzaro, who later became a racing legend, won the second Targa Florio and since he was known to many of the locals, his victory was very popular with the fans.

A disasterous earthquake on the east coat of Sicily that resulted in the deaths of more than 155,000 citizens dealt a severe blow to race and the enthusiasm of the local people. To try to generate enthusiasm, Vincenzo changed the circuit to one lap of approximately 628 miles. Slowly the race was brought back to life only to be stopped during World War 1. After the war the organizers were determined to restart the race and in November of 1919, Targa Florio was reborn. The circuit was shortened to 67 miles but the race was increased to four laps for a total of 268 miles.

The race in 1921 saw the Targa Florio finally come of age with the appearance of the first full works team. Alfa Romeo and Fiat both entered cars. But it was the amateur Count Masetti driving a "one off" Grand Prix Fiat and Max Sailor driving a Mercedes who dominated the race. The Mercedes was a factory entrant in all but name. The battle between the two was finally won by Masetti. He repeated his feat the following year. In 1924 Alfred Neubauer finished thirteenth with his co-driver Ferdinand Porsche while Christian Werner won in a Mercedes after Antonio Ascari was forced to push his stricken car over the line.

  • 1956, 40th - The first with a "Porsche"
  • Eleven days before the start of the 1956 Targa Florio, Porsche decided to let Umberto Maglioli drive a Porsche 550A, a car of only 130 hp and weighing only 515 kilograms. When they returned they had won the race, 15 minutes ahead of the second place Maserati.
  • 1958, 42nd
  • 1500 cc Sport car class: Behra/Scarlatti in a Porsche RS, 1st place, 2nd overall.
  • Grand touring to 1600 cc: 1st place v. Hanstein/Cucci in a Porsche Carrera GT
  • 1959, 43rd
  • 2000 cc Renn-sport car - First 4 places: 1st Graf/Trips/Bonnier in a Spyder RSK, 2nd v. Hanstein in a Carrera.
  • 1500 cc Renn-sport car 1st Serriar/Holbert in a Spyder RSK, 2nd Barth/Fitch, Spyder RSK; 3rd Miles/McAfee, Spyder RSK.
  • 1600 cc Grand Touring: 1st v.Hanstein/Graff Beaufort, Carrera
  • 1960, 44th
  • 2000 cc Sport car: 1st Bonnier/Herrmann RS 60, 1st place overall
  • 1600 cc Sport car: 1st Barth/Graham Hill, RS 60, 5th place overall
  • Grand Touring: 1st Strahle/Linge/Kainz, Carrera, 8th place overall
  • 1963, 47th
  • 2000 cc Prototype: J. Bonnier/C. Abate, 1st and 1st overall
  • 2000 cc Grand touring: E. Barth/H. Linge, Carrera 2 lt. 1st
  • 1st in Grand touring class and Baron Pucci/P. E. Strahle, Carrera Abarth 2 lt., 2nd
  • 1600 cc Grand touring: G. Koch/S. v. Schroter, Carrera 1600 cc, 1st place
  • 1964, 48th - Carrera GTS (904) First Porsche with a plastic body
  • Grand touring and overall: Baron Pucci/Colin. Davis, Carrera GTS, 1st; H. Linge/G. Balzarini, Carrera GTS, 2nd
  • Prototype: G. Klauss/J. Neerpasch,  Carrera GTS/8 cyl, 1st and 7th Grand touring overall
  • 1965, 49th
  • Prototype 2 lt.: 1st and 2nd overall Davis/Mitter, Carrera GTS 8 cyl, 2nd and 3rd overall, Magioli/Linge (6 cyl); Bonnier/Hill, (8 cyl) 3rd and 4th overall
  • Grand touring: 1st and 5th overall Pucci/Klass, 4 cyl
1966, 50th - 1st place: 718 RS60 Spyder, Bonnier/Herrmann
1968, 52nd - 1st place: Udo Schutz
  • 1969, 53rd
  • Overall: 1st Mitter/Schutz, 908; 2nd Elford/Maglioli, 908; 3rd Hermann/Strommelen, 908; 4th V. Wendt/Kauhsen, 908
  • Grand touring: Ostini "Nomex", 911T
  • 1970, 54th
  • Overall: 1st Siffert/Redman, Gulf 908-3; 2nd Rodriguez/Kinnunen, Gulf 908-3; 4th Laine/v. Lennep, 908-2; 5th Waldegaard/Attwood, 908-3
  • 1973, 57th - Final year of Targa Florio
  • Overall: 1st Muller/v. Lennep, Martini-Porsche Carrera RSR; 3rd Kinnunen/Haldi, Martini-Porsche Carrera RSR; 6th Sieckkonig/Pucci, Martini-Porsche Carrera RSR
TF Race stats
Targa Florio by D. David

The following posters feature Targa Florio:
60-7 63014 64015 64-1 65020
66024 66-7 67032 67-6  
68040 69-12 70-13 72103 73-25

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