Three-time Targa Florio winner Nino Vaccarella, Sicily’s hem, presided over the first revival event in October, and delighted fans when he climbed aboard Harald Mergard’s Ferrari 512S, which Mario Andretti and he co-drove to victory in the 1970 Sebring 12 Hours.
Eighty-five crews from 14 countries entered the event, put together by Peter Auto and AC Palrmo. Star drivers included former Ferrari GP winner Patrick Tambay in a 250GT, and triple World C2 sportscar champion Ray Bellm in his Ford GT40. Automotive veterans of the event ranged from Hubert Fabri’s Bugatti T35C, which contested the 1928 Targa Florio and the 1956-winning Porsche 550 of Claude Ruiz-Picasso. The 1967 and ’68 short-tailed Alfa Romeo T33/2s of Paul Osborn and Gregor Fisken/Martin Eyears attracted great interest as they wailed round the Piccolo Madonie circuit.
Circuit knowledge proved vital in the competition, Italian crews claiming the top five places. Maurizio Plano and ‘Davis’ led home a Porsche onetwo, their 1971 911S finishing 22 seconds clear of the ’73 version of Guiseppe Salerno and Domenico Guagliardo. Marco and Claudio Savoni’s fast BMW 2002 Tii was third. Tambay finished sixth, first of the visitors, 15 seconds ahead of Bellm and Paul Lanzante in the GT40. David and Deborah Franklin were 12th in a ’61 Jaguar E-type. Despite organisational confusion at the start, which saw their Alfa run under protest, Fisken and Eyears finished the event. Electrical problems forced Osborn to retire, however.
Although huge efforts were put into the logistics of the retro, and the camaraderie of competitors on the boat from Genoa to Sicily set a promising early tone, detail and local politics let the event down badly. “It was one big pantomime,” said one leading competitor “but the experience of competing on the Targa course was unbelievable.” MP