Between 14th-16th June, the Targa Florio, which is now part of the International Rally Challenge, will be held in and around the Madonie mountain range here in the province of Palermo.
Originally, it was probably the oldest open-road car race in Europe and was founded in 1906 by Vincenzo Florio, a wealthy aficionado and pioneer racing driver from a prominent Sicilian family. The name Florio is also connected to a famous Marsala dessert wine. But that’s another story!
Considered by all who competed in it as probably the toughest and most dangerous of all car races, one can easily imagine that the roads through the Madonie were not built for cars in those early days. Even in the 1960s, although the road surfaces were slightly better, one racing driver said that there was a 44 mile lap which had 710 corners along which there were stone walls, dogs, farm animals, spectators and even bandits who all contributed to the numerous hazards along the way. Also a missed turn might mean a horrific drop down the side of a mountain.
Nevertheless, many famous drivers have competed in this race including Tazio Nuvolari, Enzo Ferrari, Stirling Moss and Jacky Ickx.
Up until 1973 it was classified as a World Sportscar Championship and then because of safety concerns and a number of horrendous and fatal accidents, it was turned into a rallying event in 1978.