First run in 1906, the Targa Florio was one of the longest running motorsport events in the world.
And by the time that it finally lost it’s World Championship status, after the 1973 race, it had become something of an historical relic.
The format varied, but for the last 30 years or so, the race took place on the 45 mile Piccolo Madonie (Yes, in this case, Piccolo does mean Short!) circuit, which it would lap in the form of a time trial, between 8 and 14 times, according to the mood of the particular year. And, given the close relationship between the track and those who lived around it, the spectators would always have a rather more significant role to play, than they did at most other events.
In the early races, drivers commonly felt the need to carry rifles in their cars, in case they broke down in the hills and were attacked by bandits! In later years, you were less likely to get shot at, but the right of the populace to be closely involved with the action, and apply a little banditry of a more subtle nature, would never be completely surrendered.
In 1970, Masten Gregory opened up great vistas of opportunity when he left the Alfa Romeo T33 that he was sharing with Toine Hezemans, sitting forlornly somewhere up in the mountains.
It goes without saying that someone has felt the need to try the cockpit for size. While at the same time, a couple of his compatriots are taking a deep, and probably unhealthy, interest in something at the back of the car. Something that will almost certainly prove to have been the rightful property of the vehicle’s proprietor.
Meanwhile, back in 1963, Dutchman Rob Slotemaker has ground to an unscheduled halt in his Mini-Cooper.
This sort of thing is grist to the Sicilian mill! Not only has a generous range of local refreshment been provided to help dull the pain of Rob’s frustration, but the locals are also more than happy to provide further help, in the form of invaluable, and exhaustive, technical advice.
We’re fairly certain that the little guy under bonnet (the one clearly being told to keep his fingers out!), would have proved to have been a particularly fruitful source of engineering opinion.
But if you actually won the race, the Sicilians loved you! Here is Christian Werner and his Mercedes, festively decked out in the tasteful floral tributes provided as a consequence of his 1924 victory.