Targa Florio

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Targa Florio
Category Endurance
Country Tour of Island of Sicily, Italy
Inaugural season 1906
Folded 1977
Last Drivers' champion Italy Raffaele Restivo,
Italy Alfonso Merendino
Last Constructors' champion United Kingdom  Chevron B36 BMW
Alessandro Cagno (1883-1971), winner of first Targa Florio in 1906. Pictured at 1907 event.

The Targa Florio was an open road endurance automobile race held in the mountains of Sicily near 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.

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.

History[edit]

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.

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 variants[edit]

The 148 km (92 mi) course from 1906-1911 and 1931
The 72 km (45 mi) course from 1932-1936 and 1951-1977

Several versions of the track were used. It started with a single lap of a 148 km (92 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 148 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.

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 148 km (92 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 to 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 in public traffic, one lap would take about an hour to do in a road car if there was no traffic.

Lap speeds[edit]

Like a rally event, the race cars were started one by one every two minutes for a time trial, as a start from a full grid was not possible on the tight and twisty roads.

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.[1] 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.[2]

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).[3] 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.[4] 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.[5] The fastest completion of the long version of the island tour was by Mario and Franco Bornigia in an Alfa Romeo 8C 2500, 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).[6]

1970s, Safety and demise[edit]

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 2 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 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 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 an open road rally-type race that took place on Sicilian 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 speeds never reached even 80 mph even up to the final years of the race's history, even with the very long straight at the northernmost of the track.

Legacy[edit]

After winning the race several times, Porsche named the 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 named 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.[7]

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.

Winners[edit]

[8]

A selection of race winners
Jean Porporato finishing fourth at the 1908 race with Berliet
Alfa Romeo RL TF - winner in 1923. 
Albert Divo at the 1929 Targa Florio with Bugatti Type 35C. 
Alfa Romeo 8C winner in 1931, 1932 et 1933. 
Maserati 6CM - winner in 1937-1939 
Ferrari 166MM Barchetta, similar to 1948 winner driven by Clemente Biondetti and Igor Troubetzkoy 
Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR similar to the 1955 winner driven by Stirling Moss and Peter Collins 
Porsche 904 similar to 1964 winner of Colin Davis and Antonio Pucci 
Porsche 908/3 similar to the one driven by Jo Siffert and Brian Redman in 1970 
Porsche 911 Carrera RSR driven by Herbert Müller et Gijs van Lennep in 1973 
Lancia Stratos Turbo 
Year Winner Car Time Distance
(km)
Speed
(km/h)
Laps Course Variant
1906 Italy Alessandro Cagno Itala 35/40 HP 9:32:22 446.469 46.80 3 Grande Circuit (146 km)
1907 Italy Felice Nazzaro Fiat 28/40 HP 8:17:36 446.469 53.83 3
1908 Italy Vincenzo Trucco Isotta Fraschini 7:49:26 446.469 57.06 3
1909 Italy Francesco Ciuppa S.P.A. 2:43:19 148.823 54.67 1
1910 Italy Tullio Cariolato Franco Automobili 6:20:47 297.646 46.90 2
1911 Italy Giovanni "Ernesto" Ceirano SCAT 9:32:22[citation needed] 446.469 46.80 3
1912 United Kingdom Cyril Snipe SCAT 25/35 24:37:19 979.000 41.44 1 Island Tour (short) (979 km)
1913 Italy Felice Nazzaro Nazzaro Tipo 2 19:18:40 979.000 50.70 1
1914 Italy Giovanni "Ernesto" Ceirano SCAT 22/32 16:51:31 979.000 58.07 1
1919 France André Boillot Peugeot EXS 7:51:01.8 432 55 4 Media Circuit (108 km)
1920 Italy Guido Meregalli Nazzaro GP 8:27:23.8 432 50.924 4
1921 Italy Giulio Masetti Fiat 451 7:25:05.2 432 58.236 4
1922 Italy Giulio Masetti Mercedes GP/14 6:50:50.2 432 63.091 4
1923 Italy Ugo Sivocci Alfa Romeo RL Targa Florio 7:18:00.2 432 59.177 4
1924 Germany Christian Werner Mercedes PP 6:32:37.4 432 66.010 4
1925 Italy Bartolomeo Costantini Bugatti T35 7:32:27.2 540 71.609 5
1926 Italy Bartolomeo Costantini Bugatti T35T 7:20:45.0 540 73.507 5
1927 Italy Emilio Materassi Bugatti T35C 7:35:55.4 540 71.065 5
1928 France Albert Divo Bugatti T35B 7:20:56.6 540 73.478 5
1929 France Albert Divo Bugatti T35C 7:15:41.7 540 74.366 5
1930 Italy Achille Varzi Alfa Romeo P2 6:55:16.6 540 78.010 5
1931 Italy Tazio Nuvolari Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 Monza 9:00:27.0 584 64.834 4 Grande Circuit (146 km)
1932 Italy Tazio Nuvolari Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 Monza 7:15:50.6 574 79.296 8 Piccolo Circuit (72 km)
1933 Italy Antonio Brivio Alfa Romeo 8C-2300 Monza 6:35:03.0 504 76.729 7
1934 Italy Achille Varzi Alfa Romeo Tipo-B P3 6:14:26.8 432 69.222 6
1935 Italy Antonio Brivio Alfa Romeo Tipo-B P3 5:27:29.0 432 80.010 6
1936 Italy Constantino Magistri Lancia Augusta 2:08:47.2 144 67.088 2
1937 Italy Giulio Severi Maserati 6CM 2:55'49.0 315.6 107.704 60 Favorita Park (5.26 km)
1938 Italy Giovanni Rocco Maserati 6CM 1:30'04.6 171.6 114.303 30
1939 Italy Luigi Villoresi Maserati 6CM 1:40.15.4 228 136.445 40
1940 Italy Luigi Villoresi Maserati 4CL 1:36.08.6 228 142.288 40
1948 Italy Clemente Biondetti
Italy Igor Troubetzkoy
Ferrari 166 12:12'00.0 1080 88.866 1 Island Tour (long) (1080 km)
1949 Italy Clemente Biondetti
Italy Aldo Benedetti
Ferrari 166 SC 13:15.09.4 1080 81.494 1
1950 Italy Mario Bornigia
Italy Giancarlo Bornigia
Alfa Romeo -
6C 2500 Competizione
12:26.33.0 1080 86.794 1
1951 Italy Franco Cortese Frazer Nash 7:31.04.8 576 76.631 8 Piccolo Circuit (72 km)
1952 Italy Felice Bonetto Lancia Aurelia B20 7:11.58.0 576 76.631 8
1953 Italy Umberto Maglioli Lancia D20 3000 7:08.35.8 576 80.635 8
1954 Italy Piero Taruffi Lancia D 24 6:24.18.0 576 89.930 8
1955 United Kingdom Stirling Moss
United Kingdom Peter Collins
Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR 9:43.14.0 936 96.290 13 Piccolo Circuit (72 km)
1956 Italy Umberto Maglioli
West Germany Huschke von Hanstein
Porsche 550 7:54.52.6 720 90.770 10
1957 Italy Fabio Colona Fiat 600 - 359 - 5
1958 Italy Luigi Musso
Belgium Olivier Gendebien
Ferrari 250 TR 10:37.58.1 1008 94.801 14
1959 West Germany Edgar Barth
West Germany Wolfgang Seidel
Porsche RSK 11:02.21.8 1008 91.309 14
1960 Sweden Jo Bonnier
West Germany Hans Herrmann
United Kingdom Graham Hill
Porsche RS60 7:33.08.2 720 95.320 10
1961 West Germany Wolfgang von Trips
Belgium Olivier Gendebien
Ferrari Dino 246 SP 6:57.39.4 720 103.433 10
1962 Belgium Willy Mairesse
Mexico Ricardo Rodriguez
Belgium Olivier Gendebien
Ferrari Dino 246 SP 7:02'56.3 720 102.143 10
1963 Sweden Jo Bonnier
Italy Carlo Maria Abate
Porsche 718 GTR 6:55.45.1 720 109.908 10
1964 United Kingdom Colin Davis
Italy Antonio Pucci
Porsche 904 GTS 7:10.53.3 720 100.258 10
1965 Italy Nino Vaccarella
Italy Lorenzo Bandini
Ferrari 275 P2 7:01:12.4 720 102.563 10
1966 Belgium Willy Mairesse
Switzerland Herbert Müller
Porsche Carrera 6[9] 7:16:32.6 720 98.910 10
1967 Australia Paul Hawkins
West Germany Rolf Stommelen
Porsche 910 [10] 6:37.01.0 720 108.812 10
1968 United Kingdom Vic Elford
Italy Umberto Maglioli
Porsche 907 6:28:47.9 720 111.112 10
1969 West Germany Gerhard Mitter
West Germany Udo Schütz
Porsche 908/2 6:07:45.3 720 117.469 10
1970 Switzerland Jo Siffert
United Kingdom Brian Redman
Porsche 908/3[11] 6:35.30.0 792 120.152 11
1971 Italy Nino Vaccarella
Netherlands Toine Hezemans
Alfa Romeo 33/3 6:35:46.2 792 120.070 11
1972 Italy Arturo Merzario
Italy Sandro Munari
Ferrari 312PB 6:27:48.0 792 122.537 11
1973 Switzerland Herbert Müller
Netherlands Gijs van Lennep
Porsche 911 Carrera RSR [12] 6:54:20.1 792 114.691 11
1974 France Gérard Larrousse
Italy Amilcare Ballestrieri
Lancia Stratos [13] 4:35:02.6 576 114.883 8 Piccolo Circuit (72 km)
1975 Italy Nino Vaccarella
Italy Arturo Merzario
Alfa Romeo 33TT12 [14] 4:59:16.7 576 120.895 8
1976 Italy "Amphicar"*
Italy Armando Floridia
Osella PA4-BMW [15] 5:43:46.0 576 99.090 8
1977 Italy Raffaele Restivo
Italy Alfonso Merendino
Chevron B36-BMW [15] 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 make[edit]

Porsche 910 2.0 coupé driven by Umberto Maglioli and Udo Schütz in 1967.
Alfa Romeo RL Targa Florio
Ferrari 275 P2
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 Germany Porsche 11 9 12 8
2 Italy Alfa Romeo 10 13 7 10
3 Italy Ferrari 7 6 4 7
4 Italy Lancia 5 7 5 4
5 France Bugatti 5 4 5 6
6 Italy Maserati 4 6 9 4
7 Germany Mercedes-Benz 3 2 1 4
8 Italy SCAT 3 0 0 0
9 Italy Fiat 2 3 3 2
10 Italy Nazzaro 2 0 0 0
11 Italy Itala 1 2 1 1
12 Italy Osella 1 1 1 2
13 France Peugeot 1 1 1 1
14 United Kingdom Chevron 1 1 0 0
15 Italy Società Piemontese Automobili S.P.A. 1 0 1 1
16 Italy Franco 1 0 0 1
17 Italy Isotta Fraschini 1 0 0 0
17 United Kingdom Frazer-Nash 1 0 0 0
19 France Ballot 0 1 1 0
19 Italy Cisitalia 0 1 1 0
19 Italy De Vecchi 0 1 1 0
22 Italy Osca 0 1 0 1
23 Italy Aquila Italiana 0 1 0 0
23 Switzerland Sigma 0 1 0 0
25 United Kingdom Lola 0 0 1 1
26 Italy Abarth 0 0 1 0
26 Italy Alfa-Maserati-Prete 0 0 1 0
26 France Berliet 0 0 1 0
26 France Darracq 0 0 1 0
26 Italy Diatto 0 0 1 0
26 Austria Steyr 0 0 1 0
32 United Kingdom Aston Martin 0 0 0 1

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Valenza, Giuseppe (2007). Targa Florio Il Mito: Legenda Editore (Italy). ISBN 9788888165172.

References[edit]

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

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 37°56′52″N 13°47′10″E / 37.94778°N 13.78611°E / 37.94778; 13.78611

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