SPORTSCARS RACES IN THE 1960's: Author: ArchitectPage

Italy

Targa Florio, Sicily - 1962

Unwilling mistress of the Mafia, beautlful Sicily has an annual affair with the Targa Florio. Even Le Mans cannot match it as a spectacle or as a test for car and driver.

With but one official practice, much practice takes place beforehand, as often as not in non-racing cars. Whitewashed walls proclaim, "Viva Phil Hill" and "Forze Baghetti" and placards urge, "Mothers, look after your children" and "Stay away from the curves," but the streets are hardly empty.

Porsche ("We have to do the Targa, we love it") came with two long-awaited two-liter flat-eight cars, one open, one closed. Their new disc brakes gave much trouble but the engines roared happily up the hills, bellowing traditional Porsche sounds, though up an octave.

For the official practice, Phil Hill traded up from a Fiat 600 to Sefac's 2.7 -liter V -8 Ferrari. As he hurtled down a short straight, his throttle stuck. Over the edge he went, the Ferrari doing a mid-air flip and landing in a bean field. Banged in the chest by the steering wheel, Phil professed to feel fine. Modena headquarters felt otherwise and team manager Dragoni sidelined Hill,. leaving it to Willy Mairesse and Ricardo Rodriguez to carry Sefac's ball in the 2.4-liter V - 6.

In the race, Mairesse turned sensational lap times, yet showed surprising stability. Rodriguez did a professional job, too. Less than a minute slower, he stayed on the road throughout. With an impressive lead thus piled up, wily Dragoni put in steady, reliable Olivier Gendebien for three easy final laps. This assured the impetuous young Mexican of his first Championship win and the ambitious but erratic Belgian of his second this year (the first was the Grand Prix of Brussels).

Porsches had a bad time. Though Bonnier and Vacarella were third in the eight-cylinder coupe, the next Porsche was in sixth after a long stop to fix the exhaust manifold, bent when driving along a ditch. Dan Gurney, fresh from his successful Indy driving tests, had one quick, smooth lap, then his brakes acted up and he caught a stone wall.

He crept around to the pits and retired, shortly afterward flying to Indianapolis for qualifications.

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