History of the Targa Florio – Race Profile Page Four
The following year, Moss drove a Porsche with Graham Hill. They came within 500 yards of winning when the rear axle broke. “It was bitterly disappointing,” Moss remembered, “but that was the Targa all over; triumph one minute and disaster at another and nothing to warn you what was coming next.”
My friend, Brian Redman won one of the last Targas in 1970 driving a Porsche 908/3. The previous year, Brian and Jo Siffert had won Brands Hatch, Spa, Monza, the Nurburgring and Watkins Glen clinching the World Manufacturers Championship for Porsche for the first time. Before the Targa, the Porsche team manager suggested Brian get some practice. “I spent two or three days driving around the 44-mile circuit trying to learn the impossible. In the race, whilst running among the top three, I had a drive-shaft break, so that was that.”
In 1970, Redman was teamed with Jo Siffert, who started, then came in after three laps for a driver change. “I jumped in and managed to close up to the leader, Nino Vaccarella in a Ferrari 512. I tried to pass him three times and three times he was going to push me off the road. Finally, I held my place about 100 yards behind for two laps and then closed right up at the pit stop where we had a faster driver change. So Jo went into the lead and, six and half hours after the start, finished in first place.”
Brian’s final year was 1971. On the first lap when the steering failed, he crashed into a pole; the car caught fire and exploded. “On fire from head to foot, doing a very fair imitation of Joan of Arc and blinded by fire, I staggered across the road and collapsed.” Ferrari entered Redman with Jackie Ickx in 1973, but Jackie crashed on the first lap.
Brian summed up his experiences: “The Targa was something different, the last of the real old-style road races, run in a beautiful, mysterious country with feelings of incipient danger, whether actual ones on the road or those imagined from the unknown, were never far away.”
The record shows that the Targa Florio was the longest-lasting road race, outliving the Mille Miglia by 16 years. It was held 57 times in 67 years. After 1977 it has been run as a rally, but in Europe, rallies as are almost as tough as races.
Notes: I spoke with 94-year-old John Fitch on the phone a few days before writing this. He was at his home near Lime Rock, the same house where he has lived since 1960. In spite of some recent mishaps, Stirling and Susie Moss still live near the Hilton Hotel in London. They went on a cruise this January and he is still active making appearances. At age 80, he retired from vintage racing. Brian Redman is going at a “tour guide” to Italy for the start of the Mille Miglia in May. Next he plans trips to the Goodwood Festival as well as the Revival.
[Source: Art Evans]