The History of the Targa Florio

The Targa Florio was desired, created, financed and organized by Vincenzo Florio, a rich family from Palermo, fascinated by the new means of locomotion and already known in the environment for having participated in some competitions at the beginning of the century and for having established, in 1905 , the Florio Cup (a car race in Brescia).

The race was held 61 times, practically without interruption (except for the years of the two world wars), from 1906 to 1977. Only once the race was transformed from a speed race into a “regularity” race, precisely in the 1957, when the recent incident that marked the death of the Mille Miglia puts the organizers of the Targa florio faced with the choice of suppressing the race or turning it into a easy race. The organizers – Vincenzo Florio in the lead – opted to give continuity to the race anyway.

From October 17 to 19 2021 we took part at the Targa Florio: Watch the video below or take a look at the images

Video afspelen

Targa Florio – jealous at home

Theater of running has always been the Sicilian’s roads and in particular the narrow and winding roads that run along the Madonie mountain : only on a few occasions the race was combined with the Turn of Sicily and took place along the circumnavigation of the island while in the four years 1937-1940 moved to the Favorita Park in Palermo,the Race never left the land of Sicily

The Targa Florio immediately became a legend due to the enormous difficulties inherent in the hardness of the track, to the point that, especially in the early years, even just being able to complete the race ,meant carrying out a titanic task.

Naturally, the manufacturers that have taken the field successfully over the years have always highlighted the performance obtained from cars of their own construction, proclaim theme as the best.

However, the Targa Florio also had to deal with accidents, deaths and injuries among the public and among the pilots: we remember in particular the death of Count Giulio Masetti, which took place following an exit from his Delage during the 1st round of the April 25, 1926 edition; for those who believe in the numbers cabal, the Targa Florio had reached number 17 and the Masetti car was marked with the number 13. Shortly after this serious accident, this number will no longer be assigned to racing cars, nor in Italy nor abroad (the only exception is the Lotus of Pastor Maldonado in Formula 1, the car number 13 in fact).

But the Targa Florio was still a fairly safe race: Vincenzo Florio used to repeat that his was “the slowest race in the world” and for this reason it was also safe. After the Masetti incident it arrived, to count another driver who died in the race, in 1971, when the Trieste Fulvio Tandoi lost his life due to a way out. His Alpine Renault finished his race against a tree, hitting him from the driver’s side.

In 1955, and in the years between 1958 and 1973, the Targa Florio was among the titled races for the purposes of the International or World Championships reserved for Sport or Gran Turismo cars, thus assuming a really important importance, evidenced by the descent into the field of high-sounding names, both of pilots and of manufacturers. After the 1973 edition, marked by a numerous series of fairly serious incidents that showed that the now anachronistic circuit of the Madonie little suited to hosting competitions for very powerful cars, the Targa Florio was excluded from the circuit of the great international trials.

The race still had three editions not too exciting then, in 1977, similarly to what happened for the Mille Miglia twenty years before, also in the case of the Sicilian test the end was determined by a serious accident involving the spectators: Sunday May 15th 1977, the day that the 61st edition took place, the Osella-BMW piloted at that time by Gabriele Ciuti, left the road in a stretch of mixed-fast that followed the straight of Buonfornello, overwhelming the spectators and causing two deaths and three wounded serious (including the pilot himself): the race was suspended and the ranking compiled based on the passages at the end of the 4th lap (of the 8 originally planned).

Source: My Targa Florio Italy