The Targa Florio was an endurance road race that took place in the mountains of Sicily, Italy from 1906 to 1977. It was the oldest sports car racing event and part of the World Sportscar Championship between 1955 and 1973². The race was known for its challenging course, which included winding roads through mountains and villages. The Targa Florio became one of Europe’s most important races by the mid-1920s, long before the now-legendary Mille Miglia and 24 Hours of Le Mans were established. The racing event ran for 71 years and 61 races before stoppimg in 1977, Since 1978 it has been staged as a rally.
The original Targa Florio circuit was established by the wealthy pioneer race driver and automobile enthusiast Vincenzo Florio, who had established the Coppa Florio race in Brescia, Lombardy in 1900. A lap was 148km long, including around 2000 corners on largely twisty, narrow and bumpy mountain roads. The first race lasted 9 hours and consisted of 3 laps1. The route varied over the years until the final 11 lap, 45 mile, Circuito Piccolo delle Madonie incarnation which was used from 1951 until the race was cancelled in 19772. The route was changed due to safety concerns as the original route had become too dangerous for modern racing cars3.
The race attracted many marques and famous drivers, including Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, Maserati, and Porsche. Some of the notable drivers who participated and won the Targa Florio include Tazio Nuvolari, Luigi Fagioli, Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss, Hans Herrmann, and Vic Elford. Porsche boasts the most Targa Florio podiums with 11 wins to narrowly beat Alfa Romeo’s ten wins and Ferrari’s seven wins1. In 1972. Sandro Munari and Arturo Merzario drove a Ferrari 312PB to a stunning, upset victory, The lone Ferrari beat a concerted Alfa Romeo factory tffort that included four Tipo 33s1.
The race was also notable for its unique format, in which the race distance varied each year and was split up into several stages. The winner was determined by the driver with the lowest overall time.
The Targa Florio was stopped in 1977 due to safety concerns, as the course was becoming increasingly dangerous for drivers and spectators alike. The race is still celebrated today as one of the most iconic and challenging races in automotive history.
Source: Conversation with Bing, 2023-04-12(1) Targa Florio – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Targa_Florio Accessed 2023-04-12.
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(3) Rally Targa Florio in Sicily: The car race entered in the History. https://www.traghettiper-sicilia.it/en/tp-magazine/targa-florio-car-rally-in-sicily/ Accessed 2023-04-12.
(4) TARGA FLORIO • Sicily à la carte. https://www.sicilyalacarte.com/targa-florio-sicily/ Accessed 2023-04-12.
(5) 6 May 1906: The Start of the Targa Florio – Fondazione Pirelli. https://www.fondazionepirelli.org/en/activities/stories-from-world-of-pirelli/6-may-1906-the-start-of-the-targa-florio/ Accessed 2023-04-12.
(6) Famous Races: Targa Florio | CarBuzz. https://carbuzz.com/news/famous-races-targa-florio Accessed 2023-04-12.
(7) Targa Florio – Race Profile, History, Photos – Sports Car Digest. https://sportscardigest.com/history-of-the-targa-florio-race-profile/ Accessed 2023-04-12.
(8) 1970 Targa Florio – Wikipedia. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1970_Targa_Florio Accessed 2023-04-12.
(9) Targa Florio: From the Sicilian Mountain Race to Porsche – InsideHook. https://www.insidehook.com/article/vehicles/targa-florio-greatest-car-race Accessed 2023-04-12.
(10) History – Targa Classica. https://targaclassica.com/history/ Accessed 2023-04-12.
(11) The History of the Targa Florio | MyTargaflorio The Targa Florio was …. https://www.mytargaflorio.it/en/the-history-of-the-targa-florio/ Accessed 2023-04-12.