Envision this: the year is 1906 in Sicily, where a motley collection of automobiles are about to embark on a treacherous and historic journey.
Conceived by Vincenzo Florio, Jr., a descendant of a prosperous family known for fishing, pottery, and winemaking, the race was more than just a sporting event. Florio, far from being a mere socialite, was deeply engaged in this venture during a period marked by the advent of industrial warfare and a shift towards mechanical innovation.
Subaru BRZ Overview
Florio was captivated by automobiles, a defining innovation of his time. He envisioned a race winding through Sicily’s mountains, unaware that it would become legendary.
The race, commencing in the spring of 1906, carved a perilous path across Sicily. Drivers raced at intervals, maneuvering past animals and rudimentary barricades, navigating treacherous hairpin turns and gradients along a 92-mile course, a spectacle of speed and daring.
Decades later, the legacy of Florio’s race resonates in Sicily’s mountains, where the Subaru WRX TR and BRZ tS, the latest 2024 models, don the iconic checkered flag. These vehicles, embodying “track-ready” and “tuned by STI” qualities, arrive in Sicily, not to relive history but to showcase their advanced capabilities on challenging roads.
Embarking from the dilapidated Floriopoli pits, the WRX TR and BRZ tS demonstrate their prowess on roads that are more remnants than thoroughfares.
Subaru Targa Florio ’23 (Subaru WRX TR and BRZ tS)
Targa Florio: A Race Beyond Control
The Targa Florio, notorious for its demanding nature and deteriorating conditions, was an unmanageable race that ultimately led to its downfall. Over 70 years, it transformed Sicily’s landscapes into a formidable test of machines and humans, proving that modernity could indeed master Sicily’s terrain.
The race encompassed three routes: the 72-km Piccolo, the 108-km Medio, and the original 148-km Grande. Alessandro Cagno, the first victor, completed three laps of the Grande at an average speed of 30 mph in over nine hours.
The race’s course was subject to frequent changes. Mussolini commissioned a road in 1932 between Caltavuturo and Collesano at Florio’s request. Legendary racer Tazio Nuvolari triumphed in the Targa Florio both before and after this road’s construction, driving an Alfa 8C.
The Targa Florio’s extreme nature was unmatched, with drivers navigating over 800 turns in a single lap. The tamped dirt roads were only replaced with pavement after the war. The race’s complexity and shifting courses required drivers to be quick-thinking and in robust vehicles, challenging even the most skilled.
By the 1970s, the race was reduced to 45 miles per lap, with supercars clocking nearly 80-mph laps. Drivers prepared by weaving through normal traffic, a practice deemed “totally insane.” The lack of adequate marshals, unpredictable road conditions, and dangerously close spectators added to the race’s perilous nature.
The hazards were real. Crashes in remote areas could leave drivers awaiting medical assistance, as seen in Brian Redman’s 1971 accident. A tragic incident in 1977, resulting in fatalities and injuries, marked the end of the traditional Targa Florio. The race resumed in 1978 as a rally on a safer, shorter route, its wild past extinguished.
2024 Subaru WRX TR Test Drive Review, Sicily
Subaru WRX TR: Embracing the Rallying Spirit
Reliving the past, we navigate the hillsides in a red $42,775 Subaru WRX TR, amidst rain and obscured mountain views. The WRX TR, a manifestation of “track readiness” with modern comforts, debuted earlier this year.
It features a sport-tuned suspension and a turbo 2.4-liter flat-4 engine, delivering 271 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The WRX TR accelerates to 60 mph in around five seconds, aided by a 6-speed manual transmission.
Driving through Sicily’s challenging terrain, the WRX TR demonstrates its agility and resilience. Despite the slippery conditions, it handles the demanding roads with a balance of power and control.
Subaru Targa Florio ’23 (Subaru WRX TR and BRZ tS)
At the Museo Vincenzo Florio: A Journey Through History
Our journey leads us to the Museo Vincenzo Florio in Cerda, curated by Antonino Catanzaro. The museum, a tribute to the Targa Florio,
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Targa Florio
What is the historical significance of the Targa Florio race?
The Targa Florio race, initiated in 1906 in Sicily by Vincenzo Florio, Jr., holds historical significance as a pioneering and challenging motor racing event. It showcased the era’s technological advancements in automobiles and tested the limits of machines and drivers on its treacherous mountainous course.
How does the Subaru WRX TR and BRZ tS relate to the Targa Florio?
The Subaru WRX TR and BRZ tS, the latest 2024 models, were tested on the historic Targa Florio routes in Sicily. These vehicles, with their “track-ready” and “tuned by STI” features, are a nod to the legacy of the Targa Florio, demonstrating their capabilities on similar challenging roads.
What were the unique challenges of the Targa Florio race?
The Targa Florio race was known for its extreme challenges, including over 800 turns per lap, deteriorating road conditions, and the need for quick-thinking drivers in robust vehicles. It was infamous for its unpredictable nature, with frequently changing courses and demanding driving conditions.
How has the Targa Florio evolved over the years?
Originally a high-speed, dangerous road race, the Targa Florio evolved over the years, especially after the 1970s. Following a series of accidents, it was transformed into a rally race on a shorter and safer route, marking the end of its extreme and perilous past.
What is the significance of the Museo Vincenzo Florio in Sicily?
The Museo Vincenzo Florio in Sicily, curated by Antonino Catanzaro, serves as a historical archive and tribute to the Targa Florio race. It contains artifacts, illustrations, and memorabilia that chronicle the race’s history and its impact on motor racing and Sicilian culture.
More about Targa Florio
- History of the Targa Florio Race
- Subaru WRX TR Model Overview
- Subaru BRZ tS Features and Specifications
- Evolution of Motor Racing in Sicily
- Museo Vincenzo Florio: Preserving Racing History