Targa Florio - Part Two

After the Second World War, the Targa Florio returned in all its glory and fascination.
So buckle up and embark on an exciting time travel through the moving history of the Targa Florio.

The streets of Sicily once again shook to the sound of roaring engines as daring drivers tackled the legendary race. These were years full of thrills, risks and heroic stories that made the hearts of racing fans beat faster.

How much the race has changed in the meantime can certainly be gauged a little from the speeds.

Time is racing

While in the early years of the race, when the track was not yet paved, lower speeds were reached, things changed over the years. Alessandro Cagno, the winner of the first Targa Florio achieved a speed of 47 km/h. In the 1920s, average speeds were still around 60 to 70 km/h. Anyone who knows the track knows that this was already very sporty back then.

As vehicle technology improved and the track was asphalted, higher speeds were achieved over the years. In the 1960s, some race cars reached speeds of up to 240 km/h on straight sections of the track.

In later years, when safety standards in motor racing became stricter, top speeds tended to be reduced to ensure the safety of drivers. Nevertheless, speeds of over 200 km/h were still reached on certain straight sections.

Targa Florio, endurance race in Sicily, create by Vincenzo Florio
Targa Florio, endurance race in Sicily, create by Vincenzo Florio

Helmut Marko - Targa Florio

The highest measured speed at the Targa Florio was achieved in 1970. Helmut Marko, an Austrian racing driver, reached an incredible top speed of 304.6 km/h on the track's long straight. Marko drove a Porsche 908/3 Spyder, a powerful racing car designed specifically for endurance racing. Its outstanding performance and speed made it a legendary moment in the history of the Targa Florio.

 “...We drove in normal road traffic. With the racing cars! In one village there was a policeman at a slow corner, he put prepared tickets in our cars. To each driver. In the offices of the race directors, these slips of paper were piling up." - Helmut Marko

 Targa Florio - Racing legends

During this period, some of the most famous drivers of the Targa Florio also made history. Their names are inextricably linked to the fame and rivalry of this race. Legends like Giuseppe Farina, Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss and Nino Vaccarella competed against each other and fought for victory on the winding roads.

The brands that dominated the Targa Florio in those years were Porsche and Ferrari. Porsche brought its legendary race cars such as the Porsche 550 Spyder and the Porsche 904 Carrera GTS to the starting line, while Ferrari put the fear of God into the competition with models such as the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa and the Ferrari 312PB. These two automakers made history and created a rivalry that is still alive among fans today.

 In 1961 it was the famous German racing driver "Count Berghe von Trips - knight, rider, racer" who won the title for Ferrari in the Dino 246SP. 


Porsche versus Ferrari - Targa Florio

What makes the Targa Florio so fascinating for Porsche and Ferrari fans? It is the connection between these renowned brands and the race track that challenged them. The Targa Florio was the ultimate test for the cars, which had to demonstrate endurance, speed and agility on the demanding roads of Sicily. Porsche and Ferrari engaged in thrilling duels for victory, and every success on this prestigious circuit was celebrated with great enthusiasm by the fans.


Porsche Targa and the Targa Florio

The Targa even inspired Porsche to develop the concept of the removable roof for their sports cars. Porsche introduced the term "Targa" not only as a model designation. It is moreover a tribute to the Targa, which plays such an important role in the company's history.

But the Targa Florio was not only a playground for car lovers and racing enthusiasts. It was also a symbol of the courage and determination of the drivers who took on the risks of racing. The narrow roads, steep curves and unpredictable weather took their toll and made the race a true test of courage. But it was precisely these challenges that made the Targa Florio a myth and captivated fans and drivers alike.

In the years from 1948 to 1977, the Targa Florio made motorsport history. The drivers, the brands and the unforgettable races made this road race a legend. It was a time full of passion, drama and unforgettable moments that united racing and the beauty of Sicily in a unique way. The Targa Florio remains to this day a symbol of the allure of racing and the irresistible attraction of Sicily.

"The Targa Florio is not just about speed, but also about precision. Every inch of the track has to be used perfectly to win the race." - Vic Elford

Accidents and safety concerns - Targa Florio

The risks of racing are omnipresent, and the Targa Florio was no exception. The race was a test of man and machine, requiring nerves of steel and unwavering courage. But the drivers were willing to risk everything to secure a place in the annals of motorsport history. Their stories are full of heroism, passion and triumph, but also of setbacks and losses that illustrate the high price of racing.

During the Targa Florio, there were regrettably several accidents that also involved spectators. Due to the fact that the race track ran through inhabited terrain and mountain villages, there was always a certain risk for spectators. The races were held on public roads, which increased the danger.

In the earlier years of the race, there were fewer safety precautions and spectators often had direct access to the track. This led to dangerous situations as race cars passed spectators at high speed. There were tragic incidents in which spectators were injured or killed.

Targa Florio, endurance race in Sicily, create by Vincenzo Florio
Targa Florio, endurance race in Sicily, create by Vincenzo Florio

Over the years, however, measures have been taken to improve spectator safety. Barriers and barriers were installed to ensure a safer distance between spectators and the race cars. Nevertheless, the Targa Florio remained a challenging event in terms of safety due to the track layout and the sometimes difficult accessibility of the track.

"The smell of gasoline and the roar of the engines - that's music to my soul. The Targa Florio is the place where I feel alive." - Sandro Munari

The end of the Targa Florio

The accidents and safety concerns were one of the reasons why the race was eventually discontinued in 1977. Increasing safety standards in motorsports and the need to ensure the safety of participants and spectators contributed to the termination of the race.

The Targa Florio has always been a festival of racing, where the best drivers and the most prestigious car brands compete. Mercedes, Porsche, Ferrari, Alfa Romeo and many others have made the streets of Sicily shake with their racing cars. Each race was a spectacle that thrilled the crowds, combining the beauty of the island with the adrenaline rush of motor racing.

But besides all the fame and excitement, it should not be forgotten that the Targa Florio is also a symbol of Sicily's unique culture and history. The race route passed through ancient cities, past historic monuments and through breathtaking landscapes. Sicily is a treasure trove of history and culture, and the Targa Florio has helped bring these treasures to a wider audience.

"The Targa Florio is like a wild animal. You have to tame it, overcome your fears and stay in control to emerge victorious." - Arturo Merzario

Targa Florio, endurance race in Sicily, create by Vincenzo Florio
Targa Florio, endurance race in Sicily, create by Vincenzo Florio

The years after 1977: The Targa Florio lives on

Even after the end of the official Targa Florio races in 1977, the spirit of this legendary road race lives on. Nowadays, racing enthusiasts and adventure seekers can still explore the tracks of the Targa Florio on the roads of Sicily. You can literally feel the breath of racing times gone by as you drive through the picturesque villages and along the winding roads once conquered by the daring Targa Florio drivers.

Today, the Targa Florio is celebrated and continued in various ways to honor the glorious past and keep the spirit of the race alive.

Targa Florio, endurance race in Sicily, create by Vincenzo Florio
Targa Florio, endurance race in Sicily, create by Vincenzo Florio
One of these events is the Targa Florio Rally. This rally still brings together motorsport enthusiasts from all over the world to conquer the roads of Sicily. A meeting of like-minded people who share their passion for fast cars and the beauty of Sicily.

Another event that keeps the Targa Florio alive is the Targa Florio Historic Regularity Rally. Here, it's not just about speed, but also about precision and regularity. The participants have to keep to certain times and complete the route as accurately as possible.

For lovers of classic cars, the Targa Florio Classica is a real treat. This event brings together classic car fans to admire the beauty and elegance of the historic vehicles. It is a parade of automotive history, where the vehicles take center stage and make the hearts of spectators beat faster.

Finally, there is the Ferrari Tribute to Targa Florio, an event that unites the world-famous Italian brand Ferrari with the Targa Florio. Ferrari enthusiasts from all over the world bring their stallions to Sicily. Also a tribute to the long-standing relationship between Ferrari and the Targa Florio, which is marked by passion, successes and unforgettable moments.

 Targa Florio Museums

For all those who want to experience the Targa Florio, as well as the Madonie on site, we recommend a side trip to one or all of the three Targa Florio museums. Which of the three museums to visit first certainly depends a bit on the location. We especially liked the Museo Targa Florio fallen in the middle of Collesano. This may also be due to the fact that the mountain village in the Madonie as a whole has an uncanny Rennatmosphere. It is located in Corso Vittorio Emanuele n. 3, in 90016 Collesano (PA). 

For all Alfa Romeo fans, however, is the Vincenzo Florio Museum Duty. It is located in an old garage, in Via Roma, 54, 90010 Cerda (PA). This was once the headquarters of the Alfa Romeo Racing Team. This Targa Florio Museum is located in the immediate vicinity of Floriopoli. Here are still the remains of the old grandstands and garages.

All good things come in threes. Therefore, of course, must not be the Museo del Motorismo Siciliano e della Targa Florio di Termini Imerese missing. You can find it in the Via dei Mulinelli, in 90018 Termini Imerese (PA).


Those who know me know that I am a Steve McQueen fan, for many a name that not only brings a smile to the lips of every racing fan: The Hollywood star and passionate racing driver once said:

 "Racing is life. Everything else is just waiting."

These words sum up the passion and dedication to motorsport and are a perfect fit for the Targa Florio and therefore should carry this report to the finish line.

Targa Florio, endurance race in Sicily, create by Vincenzo Florio

Added value


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