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The Infamous Targa Florio | The World's Oldest Race, Cancelled in 1977



The Targa Florio, Sicily, Italy

This is the story of the oldest, most beautiful car race that has ever existed, on one of the world’s most dangerous courses. So much so, that 45 years ago in 1977, it had to be stopped.

The infamous Targa Florio, nestled in the hills outside of Palermo, Sicily, snakes its way around 72km of beautiful Italian countryside.

The likes of Stirling Moss, Juan Manuel Fangio, Graham Hill and even Enzo Ferrari raced here. Ferrari, Bugatti, Bentley, Alfa Romeo, Porsche among others competed on this famous course. It was the world’s greatest race event in its day and even now, decades on from the last official race, you can still follow in the tracks of these great racers and ride or drive the entire course.

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Locations:

Targa Florio, Sicily

Museum: Museo del Motorismo Siciliano e della Targa Florio di Termini imerese
https://museo-del-motorismo-siciliano-e-della-targa.business.site
Address: Contrada dei, Via dei Mulinelli, 90018 Termini Imerese PA

Coffee spot and start of the race: Cerda, Sicily

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Gear for the Day:

– Exklusiv Helmets Rage Shiney Black
– Merla Moto Black Hawk Jacket
– Tobacco Motorwear Selvedge Jeans
– Styl Martin Yu’Rok Boots
– Throttlesnake Glove Trotter Gloves

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My personal motorcycle: 2010 Triumph Bonneville 865cc (the base version)

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Buy us a coffee:

https://www.buymeacoffee.com/fdobbs

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Find me on:

INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/dob.bs
GEAR AND MORE: https://www.freddiedobbs.com
PODCAST: Freedom Machines With Freddie Dobbs
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/freddiecmdobbs/

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Photography, filming and editing: @monikameraki (Instagram)

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Music:

Matt Large – Conant Gardens
OTE – Wasteland Rock – Wasteland Rock
Wendy Marcini – Straight Up Boogie
Van Psyke – Drop Dead
Sixteen Wheelers – The Wedge
Martin Landstorm – Un Piccolo Party

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References:

https://www.sicilyalacarte.com/targa-florio-sicily/

https://www.insidehook.com/article/vehicles/targa-florio-greatest-car-race

https://www.nytimes.com/1973/05/14/archives/van-lennep-wins-crashfilled-targa-florio-3-spectators-hurt.html
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47 thoughts on “The Infamous Targa Florio | The World's Oldest Race, Cancelled in 1977”

  1. F me, Freddie, anyone "alive" to have witnessed Targa Florio?
    My dad took me a couple of times as a kid. I particularly remember the 1972 edition, Arturo Merzario driving the only Ferrari managed to win the race despite being hounded by the Alfas 33. It was epic because Ferrari had a large advantage which got smaller and smaller – another half a lap and the Alfa would have won. We were frantically listening to the radio to find out who had won in the end. Arrival was ,as you pointed out, in Cerda (pronounce the C as in "ciao", not as k ). Porsches were behind. There were also Lolas, check them out.. We weren't on the roadside as you showed in your video, my dad chose a place on a hill where you could see a bigger section of the track withe several straights and bends near a place called Caltavuturo. It was a family event, you see, people were there for the whole day getting to the best spots as early as they could, bringing a lot of homemade food and enjoying the day out. The noise of the engines was something else… I will always remember it ,so long as I'm alive…
    A bit different from the Oxfordshire countryside where I live now…
    Enjoy the rest of your time there with Monica. Great videos, BTW!!!

  2. Fantastic information Fast Freddie! You guys are sensational! Gotta love the Nonni roaming around without their wives🇮🇹 Chivalry at Italian finest. So missing those golden sunsets👌

  3. Yes,a remarkable relating of trivia . Love the video. Gilera was popular in the 60s Libya due to the Italian community. I lived and schooled there Wheelus AFB 65-70. The Porsche Targa name was a new fact for me.

  4. Freddie Dobbs, a man out of time. My wife in the other room knows when I’m watching one of your videos just by the soundtrack that’s not out of place in an Austin Powers movie.

    Freddie, a guy in his heyday today, but whose taste in bikes and music appear to be from the 50’s and 60’s. Keep up the content, it’s enjoyable to watch.

  5. Absolutely love your video’s, this one is a beauty… again. You deserve a much bigger audience. Ps, great to see the Leica reporter in good hands 🙂

  6. Oh man, love this so much. Respect for the glory days of motorsports. Just read about all this in the brilliant book The Limit. Thanks for this soulful video.

  7. Well, Freddie and Monica, please allow me to congratulate you both on doing such great videos, Ive followed your channel from the start and its certainly now very professional with Monica's filming skills and Im must say your a natural presenter in front of a camera, the content of each video is always interesting, entertaining and informative, it makes the viewer want to be there or trace your steps, Im sure theres so much more to come from you, I eagerly await every new episode…well done keep it up.

  8. Great video!!!! If I'm not mistaken, the start of the race took place right at the spot you were commenting on the Fiat Panda going by. You were walking in what used to be the pitlane, with the elevated concrete section. The cars were sent off, one at a time across the road, where the grandstands are. Good to see they're fixing the washed out sections of the course. Cheers!!!

  9. I was quite aware of most of this .. but well done you old chap bravo.i shall be in sicila in2 weeks time for a 3 week stay..time spent in sicila is never wasted bouna fortuna grazie grazie Mille ciao ciao

  10. Blimey Freddie your vids are just becoming brilliant.
    I loved every second of that.
    Your enthusiasm is so infectious and Monica’s camera work is so good it feels like I’ve just watched a documentary made by a full production crew. But better.

  11. Freddie, Monica, this video was amazing,thoroughly enjoyed it all,the music was brilliantly period .As previously stated the content just keeps getting better and better.Sorry for the late comments,

  12. So many similarities to the Isle of Man TT. The IOM is basically a cold-weather version of Sicily anyway, I wonder if the organisers on the two islands were aware of each other? Racing began on IOM in 1904 as the Gordon Bennett trials. It came about because there was a 20 mph limit on all British roads. IOM was approached about a race and the Manx parliament passed an act to allow it. Both the Targa and TT are lonely mountain circuits combined with mad dashes through towns. And both of them faced the same pressures in the 1970s due to the roll-call of injuries & fatalities. They both lost their international motorsport status, the Targa, as you said, in '73 and the TT in '76. The only difference is that the IOM has been more successful in sticking two fingers up to world racing authorities and carrying on. I'm on the fence about it: it's a fabulous event, fabulous history, but whether it's worth the many lives lost I don't know. Racers' families must go through hell. Anyhow, when you're back up in northern latitudes the IOM would be a superb place for you and Monika to visit. Great film, loved the museum owner's passion! (And your own, of course!)

  13. Freddie. How fortuitous was that. Shows what can happen when you and Monica go exploring 😊Thanks for sharing. Really amazing., bet you cant believe your luck.

  14. Dear Freddie, thanks for this video and the numerous impressions. There is one absolutely stunning book covering the Targa Florio: Ten days in Sicily by Tony Adriaensens (Corsa Research). One of the most beautiful car books I've ever read and I'm more than happy to own one.

    Ten days in Sicily is based on a story of four Britisch young men who went to Sicily in May 1966 to watch the last real road race, the Targa Florio. Arriving in time for the Syracuse Grand Prix, they drove their Fiat 124 saloon press car to Syracuse to watch this first GP race in Europe for the new three-litre formula. The next weekend – May 8 – all four were present for the start of the Targa Florio. They experienced the excitement of the pre-race practice runs, combined with a commemorative run to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Targa – the Trofeo Marathon, for veteran and vintage cars with special guest Elisabeth Junek. @Corsa Research

  15. Great video. Did you finish the full course? I flew to Palermo just before Covid to drive it and general sightseeing. I rented the crappiest Fiat I could find anticipating bad roads but it was worse than I imagined. Impassible in several places with long detours, as you mentioned due to land subsiding and general neglect as well. Ended up giving up on that idea, have seen enough to get a feel for it, and drove to Cefalu for a few days on the beach, only to arrive in the worst torrential rain of my life, so bad the local cemetery flooded and washed out a few recently buried people into the sea! That made me give up on swimming there as well, in case I might bump into someone unexpected. Sicily has certainly left an impression on me… would love to go back and visit that museum you went to.

  16. Probably one of if not the best video you guys have done! Brilliant presentation & scenery full of little known facts, love it all!
    Well done guys👍🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

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