Palermo, Sicily, May 6th.
Once again motor racing in the Grand Manner took place in Sicily when the forty-sixth Targa Florio was held on the rugged mountain circuit, and the Northern part of the island became its glorious annual chaotic state. In last year’s report in Motor Sport I went into the details of the way the Targa Florio is run, the circuit and its condition, and the general atmosphere that is so special to the race, so there is no point in repeating myself, for Sicily was in full bloom, the sun was shining, the cars were roaring, and the whole Targa Florio atmosphere was well up to standard. The only disappointment was that Stirling Moss was not there with the rear-engined sports Ferrari he has bought, his Goodwood crash still laying him low.
The Scuderia Ferrari entered three cars, a new 196SP with 2-litre V6 engine with single ohc to each bank, a 2.4-litre Dino 246 as used last year, and the new 2.6-litre V8 with single-cam cylinder head layout, and rear engine position. The drivers were paired Baghetti/Bandini on the 2-litre, Mairesse/Rodriguez on the 21/2-litre and Phil Hill/Gendebien on the V8. In opposition was a strong Porsche team and of particular interest was the fact that their 8-cylinder engines were making their first race appearance. Although the whole mechanical set-up was Porsche factory they were combining with the Scuderia Venezia and the cars were entered under the Venezia flag. The two 8-cylinder cars were those built last year and used with 4-cylinder engines, an open 2-seater for Bonnier/Gurney and the Le Mans coupe for Vaccarella/Graham Hill. Both cars were longer in the wheelbase than the normal RS but retained the same trailing-link ifs and wishbone and coil-spring irs and were fitted with Porsche disc brakes. The horizontally-opposed 8-cylinder engines were of 2-litre capacity, using four double-choke Weber carburetters, and had plastic horizontal cooling fans, each bank of four cylinders uses two overhead camshafts and two plugs per cylinder fired from a battery of four Bosch coils. The engine is coupled to a 6-speed gearbox behind the crown-wheel and pinion line in normal Porsche racing practice, though the longer engine has necessitated the gearbox/final drive unit to be moved farther back in the frame and the use of drive shafts inclined slightly forwards. On the open car the deck behind the driving compartment has two bulges over the rows of air intakes for the carburetters and a grille over the cooling fan, which is almost flush with the body. On the coupe this deck is covered by the roof, with a perspex division between it and the driver and a vertical perspex rear window. Air is let into this compartment by a scoop on each side and the effect is that the rear “parcels shelf” is full of carburetter intakes and cooling fan! As the Scuderia Venezia drivers were sharing the coupe it was painted red, the open car being silver but carrying a Venezia emblem. Also being run by the Porsche factory were two Abarth Carreras, one for Herrmann/Linge and the other for Pucci/Barth, while there was a 4-cylinder RS61 for Maglioli/Spychiger. Added to this array were Strahle/Hahnl with the former’s very potent Abarth Carrera, and two private Carreras. As well as joining forces with Porsche for this race, the Scuderia Venezia were running a Tipo 64 Maserati, this being the latest version of the V12-cylinder 3-litre rear-engined “birdcage” chassis car, with “birdcage” construction de Dion tube; Abate/Colin Davis were the drivers. The remainder of the entry was made up of rows of Alfa Romeo Giuliettas, including the new cut-off tail Zagato-bodied car, numerous 250GT Ferraris among which was Scarlatti with one of the 1962 6-carburetter models; he driving with the owner of the car, a wealthy Italian sportsman named Ferraro, and assorted private entries from local lads, while Downton Engineering were running a tuned Cooper-Mini BMC.
This year a full four hours of practice was provided, with the roads closed and the circuit geared for race-day, and this took place on Friday under a blazing sun. Most of the entry was out and many of them got in three, and even four full laps, but trouble was already beginning, for Phil Hill crashed the V8 Ferrari, sliding over the edge of the mountain road with locked front wheels and stopping quite a way down the grass hillside, he being unscathed but the Ferrari looking very bent and second-hand. The V12 Maserati died on its second lap, with blocked fuel lines, and a Lancia Flaminia Zagato was written-off well and truly. Porsche were not at all happy with their disc brakes, but the 8-cylinder engines seemed to be all right, while one of the happiest drivers was Scarlatti, who had nothing but praise for the latest Ferrari GT. The Strahle team had intended to run a normal Carrera as well as the Abarth one, but it broke its engine while being driven down to Sicily, and the Downton Cooper-Mini had damaged its gearbox even before practice began, but was repaired in time.
The wonderful thing about the Thrga Florio is the way drivers can go on practising at any time, with the roads open to the public, and the sight of Ferraris and Porsches all mixed up with donkey-carts, Fiat 500s, small Vespa lorries and bicycles, roaring through villages with the people waving them on and the mobile cops being most helpful, is something that has to be experienced to be believed. Italians and Sicilians like racing and fast cars, of that there is no doubt.
On race day the circuit is closed at 4 am, so this called for a 2 am start in order to drive up into the mountains, about halfway round the 72-kilometre circuit, to a road junction where Ferrari, Maserati and Porsche have an emergency pit area. In the Targa Florio the rules are few and far between, the mountainous circuit being sufficient difficulty in itself without drivers having to be hampered by pettifogging regulations. If you need petrol, tyres, repairs. or help of any kind, you can receive it out on the circuit or at the official pit area; if you turn the car over and can muster sufficient peasants to lift it back on its wheels, then “good luck, carry on racing” is the oflicial view. The first car was due to start at 7 am, the rest following at 30-second intervals, and the Giuliettas led away, followed by the larger Gran Turismo cars, and then the Prototype and Sports classes according to engine size. Up in the mountains all was quiet as dawn broke, and as the sun rose behind the peaks one could see hundreds of spectators dotted about the mountain sides, while the chatter of voices and the cries of the peanut vendors and fruit sellers made it seem like market day. Having a pair of binoculars I was able to keep pace with the remarkable vision of the Sicilian peasants who spotted the first Giuliettas as they wound their way across a slope almost two mountains away, about 10 minutes after they had left the start and 15 minutes before they got to our point on the circuit. After some three hours of stillness and empty roads the sudden appearance of a small moving object getting steadily closer, finally to appear on the winding road below you, when you hear the snarl of the exhaust for the first time, is part of the fascination of the Targa Florio. Then with a scream of tyres it swirls round the hairpin where you are standing and roars away up the mountain road, to disappear round the next bend. Car follows car and as the larger ones begin to appear the pace quickens and a stop-watch gives you an indication of the race order. In the Porsche GT class Pucci was leading Herrmann, for Strahle arrived late, having had to stop and refix his throttle linkage, but he was really charging along now. Scarlatti was driving the black-and-white 250 GT Ferrari extremely well, ahead of his class and well up in the general classification. Gurney was in the open 8-cylinder Porsche and Vaccarella in the coupe, while Scarfiotti in the desmodromic valve 2-litre Osca was hard on the heels of Maglioli’s RS61 Porsche in the sports class, but they were both behind Baghetti in the 2-litre Ferrari as far as time went. Finally there came Mairesse in the 21/2-litre Ferrari, comfortably leading overall, and he was followed by Abate in the V12 Maserati. The V8 Ferrari was a non-starter after Hill’s accident and he was stood-down by team manager Dragoni, while Gendebien was retained as reserve driver for either of the other two factory cars. Mairesse had done his standing lap in 40 min 43.02 sec, which was not far off the lap record and put him 1 min 9 sec ahead of Gurney who was lying second overall, followed by Baghetti, Vaccarella, Abate and Scarlatti in that order.
On lap two Mairesse went even faster and Gurney went off the road, so that the open 8-cylinder Porsche was late in arriving at our point in the mountains. As it came into sight below us the keen-eyed Porsche mechanics spotted the damaged bodywork and buckled wheels, and when Gurney stopped at the hairpin they were soon on the job fitting three new wheels. The cause of the crash had been brake troubles and when Gurney got back to the pits the car was withdrawn, and this left Baghetti in second place, but not for long, as on the third lap he spun and crumpled the Ferrari tail. The first indication of trouble was when Maglioli went by with Scarfiotti right behind him, for Baghetti had been leading these two on time and on the road. Very much overdue, the Ferrari could be seen coming along with its crumpled tail, and it stopped while mechanics wired it in place and Baghetti set otr again, now in fourth place behind Scarlatti in the 250 GT. At the pits he stopped and Bandini took over the rear-engined Ferrari and began motoring with terrific fire and enthusiasm,
Meanwhile Colin Davis had taken over the V12 Maserati and Strahle had stopped in the mountains for petrol. Mairesse had completed his third lap in record time and stopped at the pits for fuel and for Rodriguez to take over, the 21/2-litre Ferrari now being firmly in the lead, and on lap four Colin Davis ran into trouble with the steering on the Tipo 64 Maserati. While limping back to the pits the hinged tail-engine-cover blew open and hit the ground behind the car; he got to the pits to retire holding the engine. cover down with one hand and steering with the other. When the red coupe 8-cylinder Porsche left the pits after refuelling, to start its fourth lap, it was Bonnier who was at the wheel and not Graham Hill, the Swedish driver having been switched from the red open 8-cylinder Porsche.
By stopping in the mountains for a churn of petrol Scarlatti was able to complete four full laps before handing over to his co-driver and this put him in second place overall for a short while, but once Bonnier got going the red Porsche was back in second place. The factory Abarth Porsches changed drivers, Linge taking over from Herrmann and Barth from Pucci, but Strahle was still storming along trying hard to make up time lost on his opening lap. On lap four, going down from Colisano, he tried too hard and smashed in the front of the car, but it was still drivable so he carried on. However, it looked pretty bent and next time round the organisers stopped him and would only permit him to restart if he would sign a declaration accepting full responsibility should anything break and cause an accident involving spectators. As a private entrant he could not afford to take this responsibility and had no option but to retire. The 2-litre Osca went out with engine trouble, and a lap later Maglioli retired the RS61 Porsche with gearbox trouble, so that Bandini was now unchallenged in this particular class, but he was more interested in the general classification and was driving very fast, obviously enjoying himself. Rodriguez in the leading Ferrari got down to 40 min 55 sec for a lap and was so far out in front that there was no need to try harder, but second place was still in doubt for Bandini was gaining on the Porsche, having passed the 250GT while Ferraro was at the wheel. After only one lap the owner gave the black-and-white GT Ferrari back to Scarlatti, who kept it firmly in fourth position. With a lap in 41 min 00 sec Bandini had closed the gap on the Porsche and when Baghetti took over he supported this effort with a lap in 41 min 15 sec, which put them in second place after eight laps, but only 43 sec ahead of Vaccarella, who had taken over from Bonnier.
For the closing stages Gendebien took over the leading Ferrari from Rodriguez and all he had to do was to tour round in 44 min or more per lap and keep the car on the road and in one piece. Second place was still in doubt for both the 2-litre Ferrari V6 and the 2-litre Porsche 8-cylinder had to make a final pit stop, and Bandini took over the bent but very healthy Ferrari and Bonnier took over the unbent but not so healthy Porsche, the brakes being its weakness. The final lap saw Bandini driving faultlessly and he made absolutely certain of second place overall, ahead of Bonnier. In fourth place was Scarlatti, having driven nine laps of the total race of 10 laps, but on the last lap he went off the road and buckled a wheel and had to fit the spare, using the car’s own jack, but nevertheless got going again to retain his excellent fourth place. On the last lap Barth was in trouble with the gearbox of the Abarth Carrera and was also worried about oil pressure, stopping at the mountain depot to have the circulation checked, so that he not only lost the lead of the class but dropped back in the general classification. Most unfortunate was the Alfa Romeo of Bulgari/Grana, which was lying a firm second in its class until Grana went off the road on the last lap and dropped it over a sharp ledge to become firmly stuck against a tree. Two local lads were enjoying themselves with a Tipo 60 Maserati until it broke its de Dion tube with only one lap to go, a Lancia Flaminia Zagato was running well until the driver got tired and smacked a wall. The 250GT of Tavano/Simon was rolled over onto its roof by the first driver and staggered round to the pits almost unrecognisable as a Ferrari, while another 250GT was lying third in its class until the last half-lap when engine trouble delayed it, and though it finished it was too late to be classified. The Downton Mini-Cooper buzzed around the mountains, driven by Cahier/Metternich, and finished the race at an average of 50 mph, but it was not quick enough to be classified, and the French rally champion de Lageneste and Rolland drove an immaculate race in an immaculate GT Ferrari to finish second in their class to Scarlatti and the 1962 Ferrari GT.
Not such an exciting race as last year, the Targa Florio nevertheless lived up to its reputation of being rough, rugged and tough, and the 46th in the series would have satisfied the late Vincenzo Florio, the founder of the race, that it is still a trial of strength of man and machine against the Sicilian mountains. DSJ.
There was really no need for Gendebien to drive the winning Ferrari, for Mairesse and Rodriguez had already run the race. but Dragoni’s gesture in letting the Belgian do three laps not only made up for having no car for him to race, but allowed hint to get his name on the winners’ list for the third time, a thing never before achieved by anyone.
For a first race appearance the new flat-8-cylinder Porsche engine put up an excellent performance, but was overshadowed by the 2-litre V6 Ferrari engine. While the Ferrari was classed as a pure sports car the Porsches were considered “Experimental Prototypes.” Unfortunately for Daniel Richmond the Downtonised Cooper-Mini was considered a prototype, so its class time limit was set by the Vaccarella/Bonnier Porsche.
The seventh place by the two Italians Coco/Arena in a Sprint Veloce Alfa Romeo is worthy of note as they were barely 5 min behind the works Porsche Abarth Carrera after nearly eight hours of racing.
BOC Prescott (May 6th)
The Bugatti OC’s first Championship Hill-climb, which took place on May 6th, saw the record for the new hill taken below 50 seconds by AE Marsh with his 21/2-litre 4-cylinder BRM-engined Marsh Sprint Special. In two runs in the Championship Class, Marsh clocked 49.94 sec and 48.84 sec, respectively. The recently acquired BRM of Raymond Fielding, an ex-works 1960 car, liveried in polychromatic blue, scored second place in the main class with a time of 51.58.sec. An interesting comparison was the time of Midland Racing Partnership driver Bill Bradley, who clocked 51.57 sec with a 1,100-cc Cooper in the Formula Junior Class! Current Champion David Good was still experimenting with his 1,100-cc JAP-engined Formula Junior Cooper chassis, and has yet to achieve satisfactory road-holding. The handicap for Bugatti models was rather a disappointment, with only a handful of entries. Fastest Bugatti was Frank Wall’s ex-Varzi supercharged straight-eight of 2,270 cc, with 60.38 sec. Somehow a red Bugatti didn’t look right! Having broken the course record, Marsh scored an additional point in the Hill-Climb Championship and takes a first-round lead with nine points. Second is Fielding with seven, and third is Reg Phillips (Fairley-Climax) with six points.
Many fine new motor-car miniatures have come on the market recently. Dinky Toys have a most attractive Renault Dauphine Minicab, complete with advertisements, this 3-in long replica being typical of these little vehicles that are so well known to Londoners. The price is 3s 3d (No 268). In the Dinky Supertoys range, No. 988 is a very realistic 47/16-in long ABC TV transmitter van, which sells, with rotatable, detachable paraboloid plastic aerial, for 7s 9d. Dinky also have a et of eight garage personnel in Dinky Toys scale (No 009), for 3s 9d.
Corgi Toys have a splendid ERF dropside lorry and platform trailer loaded with milk churns, in their Gift Set No 21 (9s 11d.), and an articulated milk-tanker, No 1129 (9s 6d.) in the Corgi Major series, the tractor unit being a faithful reproduction in miniature of a Bedford. There is also a Karrier “Bantam” dairy produce van, No. 435 in the die-cast Corgi Toys Series (5s 3d), for avid collectors of commercial-vehicle miniatures. It has proper cab windows and 2 well-made sliding side-door and displays the slogan “Drive Safely on Milk.” Corgi have certainly been busy, for in the smaller-scale comes a tiny Morris Mini-Cooper; complete with sprung suspension, racing number, and crossed Union jack and chequered flag on its bonnet. The white roof and bonnet-top give a sporting aspect to this quick little car, and steering wheel, seats and headlamp reflectors add to the realism—this is Corgi Toy No 227, price 4s 3d.
Lesney are justifiably proud of the latest “Model of Yesteryear” (No Y-16), a circa 1904 12/18-hp Spyker tourer from the film “Genevieve.” This has most enticing-looking seats, a spare tyre mounted on a rim behind, and excellent wheels. The model is remarkably inexpensive at 4s, and is a fine 45 : 1-reproduction of a refreshingly unusual subject. VCC members and veteran car folk generally will flock to the shops or the Montagu Motor Museum for this latest Lesney.—WB.
A Pendine Plaque
It is nice to learn that Buckley’s Brewery of Llanelly have erected a plaque on the wall of the Beach Hotel, Pendine Sands, to commemorate the Land Speed Record sorties there by Sir Malcolm Campbell and JO Parry Thomas. Capt GET Eyston unveiled the plaque last month. Altogether five Land Speed Records were established at Pendine between 1924 and 1927, and Parry Thomas lost his life there when he crashed in “Babs” his 27-litre Liberty aero-engined chain-drive monster. Foresti escaped injury when he crashed there, also in 1927, in “Djelmo.”
Entries for the Ashe Cross, Taunton, Traction Engine Rally on July 28th, which incorporates veteran and vintage car and motorcycle classes, close on June 23rd—details from G Swett, “Dartmouth,” Over Stratton, S Petherton, Somerset. The Wokingham Carnival on June 30th includes a cavalcade of old vehicles, period costume encouraged. Details from EG Ellis, The Wokingham Times, Wokingham, Berks.