Friday, 5 November 2010

Targa Florio - it's all about cars...isn't it?

As every damn fool and his dog knows, road racing in Italy was banned in June 1957, after a Spanish playboy slammed his works Ferrari into the spectators' arena during the Miglia Mille; the Milano-Tarnto was just a few weeks away, but the Italian Government rushed through a decree that stopped it in its tracks, as reported in Benzina #1

Except the Sicilians don't consider themselves part of Italy, so their great road race carried on regardless. Like the TT  the fabulous Targa Florio even retained its world championship status until the seventies, racing works Fezzas, Alfa 33's on crumbling mountain roads. But once stripped of its status as a world class event, it soon petered out and last ran in 1977. Since then it's been a rally or a recreation. But so what?

Well, how about Porsche naming their "Targa" tops after the event? To cope with racing in Sicilian heat, teams would chop roofs off cabins, leaving rear buttresses/windows intact to maintain bodyshell strength. Then Porsche trademarked "Targa" and now guard it jealously - the reason our tee shirts omit "Targa" from the design, and use 1978 because there was no real race that year.

There's an excellent piece on driving the Targa Florio's route in December's Motorsport, and it's fantastic to see it given the treatment it deserves (even if as an occasional freelancer I pitched the identical idea to them over a year ago...). If this whet's your appetite, you can get a video of the 1965 event.

And I know - what's this got to do with bikes? Well, references to bikes in the event occasionally do crop up - everyone says it must be a mistake, but I've got a couple of sources who think there's a grain of truth in the rumours. We'll see...

No comments:

Post a Comment