Targa Florio, Sicily - 1967

Italy

ONCE A YEAR the Targa Florio comes to Sicily, along with the sudden bursting out of flowers of every description in that normally parched land. Almost as numerous as the roadside stands selling bird-pecked cactus fruit, large oranges, or strange weed-like vegetables are the suddenly blooming notices stating that Ferrari, Porsche,
Austin Healey plus many others are going to race. Alongside them are other hastily applied posters, crooked and dripping with paste on the faded stucco buildings, that exhort mothers to watch their children, farmers to guard their livestock, families to keep their dogs, and cats inside because local boy "Ninni" Vaccarella is going to drive his great red rumbling mother guts of a Ferrari right slap down the village street. And since that street is two Fiat-widths wide and the houses front on it without the formality of front yard or sidewalk, even the smallest pussycat had better do his wandering out back.
Your Sicilian is fairly watchful anyway as far as traffic is concerned because the gutless 500 Fiats and Lambretta 3-wheel trucks that infest the region tend to regard towns as just an extension of the open road. Even so, the weeks preceding the Targa call for extra care because not only do local entrants seize every passing opportunity for a quick lap but often serious contenders like Porsche or BMC arrive early. During race week itself, even though formal practice is on Friday, local traffic tends to go the right way around the course; as there is no telling when you will meet one of Mr. Hertz's hire cars full of racing drivers on the wrong side of the road. With 72 km (about 45 ml) of up hill and down dale, there is little chance for non-residents really to know the Piccolo Madonie circuit, so the best they can do is try to remember where the tricky bits come. Different drivers react to the course in different ways. The increasing number of rally boys regard it as a ball, aerodrome kings down from England look upon it with dread, and even proper racing drivers like Jean Guichet and Hap Sharp get a severe case of the yips. After a couple of laps around it, the redoubtable Sharp stated that Phil could never win with him as co-driver and probably 95% of the others feel the same. There are simply too many places to lose time or make mistakes and the smallest mistake means a bent automobile.
Since the average driver is no longer a sportsman but prefers to make his money on easier tracks, the Targa in recent years has lost a lot of its importance. Ferrari has gotten so he only sends one car (a P4 to be driven by local hero Vaccarella and Scarfiotti) and the only outfit really supporting it is Porsche. This is partly because the Targa is the only big race that the Porsches have a reasonable chance of winning (a big, powerful car is a bit of an embarrassment around here) and partly because all the Germans like a
bit of sun. Everyone else international shows up on the hopes of nobbling an easy class win when the big boys aren't looking, just to have a quiet go, or else to give the cars a bit of much-needed testing. One lap around the Targa is as good as 500 miles around Silverstone, as anything that is gonna break will break.
. Alfa was pursuing a bit of this practice and brought four of the new V-8 engined Type 33. spyders under the direction. of lng.. Chiti, ex-Ferrari ex-ATS. Somebody dropped the ball in the grass in stress calculations and four of the Alfas at various times in practice took to the ditch because of the front suspension upright breaking just under the top wishbone. Chiti, who has had worse days than this, allowed as something would have to be done before the next race and jury-rigged a wire-rope arrangement so the wheel wouldn't jam under the fender when it did let go. The engine is a 2-liter dry sump twin-plug V-8 (although a single-plug version was seen lurking under a canvas) that is one of the biggest small displacement V-8s I have ever seen. It looks part Giulietta and part ATS, running twin Bosch distributors with four coils and fuel injection. .
We naturally asked Chiti how big the thing could be bored out, and instead of the usual evasive answer he admitted free- .
ly that not only could it be opened up to three liters but also that it was intended for Formula 1. Hoo hah! He also said that they would sell some to blokes like McLaren who needed engines, but another engineer whispered that Alfa had definite plans to enter Fl racing. According to him a lot of top testers and development engineers have been pinched from Lancia and Fiat recently. It is possible that the Italian government (Alfa is a nationalized concern) has figured out that Ferrari won't last forever and has decided to swing the big stick. A 5 liter sports engine is also spoken of. Anyway, returning to the 33, it showed a number of clever touches like a 2-part elephant trunk over the roll bar to feed the injection and the inboard rear brakes, a cockpit air feed in the mirror stalk, and a gearbox which according to a friend of mine bears close resemblance to the successful Hewland. The only thing un-Alfa about it was that all four cars were pretty scruffy; but as Chiti explained, these are only "mules" and constantly changed in development.

RANGED AGAINST these Alfas (for De Adamich/ Rolland, Bonnier / Baghetti, Galli! Giunti, and Russo/ Todaro) were the very mild Ferrari P4 (it idled like a family Ford and looked very neat) and a Filipinetti P3/4 for Herman Muller/ Jean Guichet backed up by three Dinos. All Dinos were entered by local Scuderie so they could run Dunlops but only one was serious, that for Casoni! Klass. This started out as a 2.4 but blew that engine and fitted a 2-liter, 3-valve injection V-8 derived from the P4. It thus moved to the next class down and funnily enough came up with a low number at the head of the 2-liter cars. This let it take advantage of the 20-sec worth of clear road after the Abarths. got away and also insured that it wouldn't have to fight its way past anything quick for quite a spell. Porsche manager von Hanstein naturally was livid. The other two Dinos were customer-type with carburetors and there-was a Fiat-Dino entered that didn't start.
Porsche, as we said, was there in
force with five private 911 S, one 906, three 1911s (6-cyl batmobiles; coupes for Neerpasch/Elford
and Cella/Biscaldi plus a spyder for Umberto Maglioli!
Schutz) and three 8-cyl fuel-injected coupes for Herrmann/ Siffert, Mitter/Davis, and Hawkins/Stommelen. All the ricers
were well-prepared with deep-dish alloy wheels' to 'take fat
Dunlops, oil rads outside in the. front, little windows to see hydraulic' fluid levels, etc., but were in a high state of panic.
,lng. Hildseems to have gone and has been replaced by a new
young, engineer, very ein-zwei ein~zwei and unsmiling. He had everyone madder than hell and was a direct cause of Bonnier's going to Alfa. However, I suppose that results count.
Other interesting objects included the 7 -liter Chaparral as raced at Sebring for P.HilUHap Sharp (Hap said that he
'wasn't 'sporty' enough to put the flipper in the flat positi9n for the straight but Phil tried it), looking as big as a London bus, a blown Giulia coupe that didn't start as it got too hot, two Ford France GT-40s, a Shelby GT 350 from Ford France that put itself in the ditch, the Epstein/Dibley Lola-Chev which was hardly the car for the course, a prototype overbored MGB for Hopkirk/Makinen, one each of twincam 1500 Gordini R8 and Alpine for J ansson/ Kallstrom and BianchilVinatier (plus some littler Alpines) and of course the usual horde of hot Fulvias, Abarths, Sprites, Morettis, TZs and so forth. Two GTBs didn't start out of three and the only other semi-touring Ferrari was an old Farina coupe
for Arutunoff/Hofer. "

FOR THE Sicilians the Targa Florio is a great National holiday. All through the night cars from every part of the island hurtle toward favorite vantage points, jostling for room with campers already there, refreshment stands, Italian army radio trucks (which were to wire in the exact. point on the course of every car when the leader finished, eliminating finishing order rumbles like last year) and peasants out of the back country. - In a hill village like Collesano surmounted with its ruined castle, excitement reaches a fever pitch. All convenient walls and flat surfaces carry painted legends exhorting Nino, Alfa, or Porsche to yet unheard of efforts and the usual dumpy village cop, even though reinforced by squads of black-and-red carabinieri and a couple of smart motorcycle gendarmes with roundels stuck in their boots, was going out of his mind herding would-be spectators out of the way even an hour before the start of the race. Collesano is Town for a great many of these people even if it strikes a slightly grotty note to our eyes with dates that the house was last DDT'd sprayed on the doorpost, old gnawed chicken carcasses lying about on the street, and a smell from the drains that would strike a wooden Indian dead. Nevertheless, there are a few cafes and two gas stations so the peasants pour in. Small shy groups of girls in loving-hands-at-home taffeta or velvet dresses stand under pink nylon parasols surreptitiously eyeing the big-city boys in fitted shirts and tight pants, so different from the darkish locals in lizard stripe suits made of cardboard. Families clamber about on the rocks overlooking the road to find a good viewpoint, lugging tons of food for
themselves and the kiddies, and as Italians are used to crowds'
everything seems to be one vast ant heap. Probably because he has been jostled since birth, the southern Italian has absolutely no shame about anything and Pete Coltrin tells a funny story about the "terrone" in a crowded railway compartment who solemnly attended to his natural needs on a piece of newspaper in the middle of the floor. When he had tossed the paper out of the window and sat down again, he produced a pack of cigarettes and then suddenly remembering his manners, asked anxiously if anyone minded if he smoked.
We remembered that story more than once as people walked all over each other and finally a family came along, wedged themselves all around us, filled up the space between our knees with kids, opened a large umbrella that effectually blocked the view, and then graciously inquired if we would like some of the fruit they were eating. The kiddies, including a small baby concierge with kinky hair and blue knitted dress, fought con
tinuously under the umbrella the whole time, but the grown-ups occupied their morning until cars actually appeared by throwing thistles at each other, whistling at the slightest action of the cops, playing transistors full blast (three different operas were going at once) or chatting across 300 yards of space with distant relatives.

ALL OF A sudden, though, a great shout went up as a car was seen winding down the hill - outside town and cries of "seidici seidici" sprang forth although we could hardly see what color it was, let alone that it was Lancia No. 16 that had already passed six of its mates. After a short wait, No.2 came through, negotiating the slippery hairpin below us with unusual care, and then on its heels No. 14, the eventual classwinner. From then on it was the usual parade, with ~n occasional clump as faster cars were balked behind a bunch of slow ones. The 906 Porsche arrived very early on, the fastest Dino had not caught up the Ford GTs yet, de Adamich's Alfa had pulled up well in the standings, Siffert's 8-cyl Porsche was fleeing frantically to stay ahead of the Ferraris, and then there was a great surge of enthusiasm as Nino arrived in the rumbling P4, having passed both the Chaparral and Muller's P3/4 with 19 sec already over the latter.
Then everybody sat down. Sooner or later one of the nearby squawking transistors gave the news from the pits (seemingly bellowed along a horsehair from fifty feet away like all electrical equipment down there) that Our Ninni was in first place (Ooooooooa! Dai Ninni! Ssssssssch!) ha copertoi 72 km deL tracciato (static static) 37:31 115 (static) 115 kph .108! The Italians were suitably impressed as most of them had scarcely done 115 kph (roughly 70 mph) in their lives, let alone average it, but we were even more so. Even allowing for considerable resurfacing and easing that had gone on, a minute and 50 see was a lot for Vaccarella to takeoff his own lap record from a standing start. In the confusion of the locals telling each other how they did it in an hour once we dimly picked up that the Porsches were on the tramp with Mitter second at 38 min 34~8 sec, Siffert third - at 38:40, Muller's big Ferrari coupe at 38:42.4 fourth, Phil Hill doing a tremendous job in fifth at' 38:47, and then Klass's 3-valve Dino, de Adamich's Alfa, Cella's,Porsche, Hawkins' Porsche, and Galli's Alfa in that order, all except the last two being inside Nino's old lap record of 39:21 with the P3.
So everybody was happy and the hunt was on; everybody likes a good race, especially its the favorite is in front and four different makes in the first ten. The kids scuffled under their umbrella; the grownups hollered back and forth, the cops had kittens keeping old ladies from crossing the street, the sun shone, and everything was lovely until Nino came rumbling down the main street on his second lap, got too wide on the marbles at the hairpin, and slid into the low retaining wall. As he wasn't coming on particularly fast the shunt was completely unexpected and there was a great aching moment of silence broken only as pieces of his two right-side mag wheels fell tinkling to the ground. Then as he twiddled the steering wheel, to find the front suspension broken and hopped out in a low rage, all hell broke loose, with people jumping all over the hill like monkeys to warn against the next- car (which wasn't in sight) and rushing down to push the stricken P4 into the side street. Poor Nino. Poor Sicily. And as tiny Herbert Muller came charging down into the hairpin to lower the record once more to 37:99 with the nose of the red and whjte Ferrari weaving, he shot one incredulous look up the side street to see the P4 almost buried in- black suits. Victory was his if nothing went wrong.

ALL IT TAKES at the Targa is one tiny mistake. Andreason found this out when he hit a house in Campofelice with his Mini Marcos, Hedges went off in his MG and hit two trees in rapid succession, Mitter shot off the road near Polizzi, Klass removed the fastest Dino from contention when he clobbered the bridge below Caltavuturo; all going to show along with the multitude of dents that commenced to appear, that the Targa could not be taken for granted. The constant strains of cornering and acceleration took their toll too as Schlesser's Ford GT lost a wheel, Bonnier's front suspension collapsed, the Lola got too hot and then succumbed to gearbox trouble, Hanrioud's Porsche broke a hub, and Siffert stopped to see if something could be done about a sticky gearbox, but carried on.
So it was Muller's race from then on with the Porsches and Alfas hot in pursuit. What with the vagaries of traffic, driver changes, and tiny noises that intrude on the drivers ears, the Porsche 8-cyl coupe of Hawkins/ Stommelen, the 2-liter Porsche of Cella, the V-8 Alfa of de Adamich/Rolland, and the 2-liter Porsche spyder of Maglioli! Schutz swapped about in second and third places all very close; the Elford/Neerpasch Porsche, the Chaparral, Siffert/Herr., mann's~ Porsche, Williams/Venturi's last Dino, and some times Greder/Giorgi's Ford GT filling up the last half of the leader board. Muller's changeover to 'co-driver Guichet had the effect of putting Hawkins and de Adamich in joint second just a wee bit behind but the gravel-voiced Australian and his German teammate finally made it stick, taking over second definitively on the fifth lap.
The cars were already getting a bit thin on the ground about that time and the peasants were beginning to drift off to lunch, keeping an attentive ear tuned to the transistors. Only the shattering roar of Muller's big Ferrari or the rumble of the Chaparral (now piloted by Sharp, who had come out to see if there was really something broken in the front suspension as Phil said but not doing all that bad nevertheless) would raise their eyes from the salami. Suddenly, however, the Filipinetti Ferrari came coasting down making a very odd noise from the region of the ring and pinion, and the Porsches were in like a Mexican burglar. Only de Adamich could stave them off- Todaro's Alfa had run out of road and Galli's was running abominably with oil coming up the distributor shaft, later to retire~and he held out manfully until the. eighth lap when his suspension collapsed as did Bonnier's.
As in compensation, Maglioli's Porsche gave up the ghost and he coasted down to Campofelice carrying some stranded driver with him but the Stuttgart cars were still three deep before-surprise!-Phil Hill in the Chaparral. Hawkins didn't trust his teammates Cella and Elford any more than -he had de Adamich, though, and he really steamed around those last couple of laps, with hardly a moment to show two fingers to his friends. The specter of mechanical breakdown was forever in front of him as he passed all those cars-all the Alfas, Renaults, Lancias, Ferraris, and Porsches littering the course. And on the ninth lap he passed the 4th-place Chaparral that Hap had taken out for a spin stopped near Campofelice (they said it was a flat and the spare was flat too, possible as it was going quite hard up until then) and on the tenth passed a pedestrian Siffert, mumbling about porsche gear boxes.
But nobody passed Paul. Stone the crows. . . the Aussies are taking over motor racing.
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Targa Florio 62

Targa Florio 63

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Targa Florio 65

Targa Florio 67

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Targa Florio 48-66

Author: ArchitectPage

SPORTSCARS RACES IN THE 1960's