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The first Targa Florio

19 marzo 2019

Over the years, Scuderia Ferrari has won almost every prestigious race in motorsport. One of these is the Targa Florio, an endurance automobile race that unfolded in the mountains near Palermo on the island of Sicily. In 1932, after an interlude on the Grande Circuito delle Madonie, the race moved to the new 72-kilometre ‘Piccolo Circuito’. The Targa Florio became a whole new race: fewer corners and climbs made for an extremely high average speed so the drivers whizzed by in even quicker succession for the enjoyment of the public.

Impregnable Nuvolari
Tazio Nuvolari raced in Scuderia Ferrari's Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 and held the lead from the first lap when he set a record average lap speed of 81.432 km/h, which he then bettered on lap 2 with 81.672. At the end of the eight laps, Nuvolari crossed the finish line having held the lead from the beginning at a record average time. Second place went to another of Enzo Ferrari’s drivers, Baconin Borzacchini, who crossed the finish line six minutes later having performed magnificently. Among the fans celebrating Nuvolari's win was a telegraph deliveryman. Was he a fan as well? No, he was delivering a telegram from the poet Gabriele D'Annunzio: the poet, writer, artist and soldier had heard the news on the radio and immediately wanted to send his congratulations.

In the words of Ferrari
Enzo Ferrari wrote about that victory too in The Bridle of Success. “Tazio Nuvolari joined Scuderia Ferrari and soon became the standard bearer. He already showed signs of his brisk and caustic personality, which led to only a few friends getting to know him well. I remember the Targa Florio in 1932 and his memorable triumph when he set a record that held for 20 years until 1952, [...]. For that expedition to Sicily, Nuvolari had asked me for a riding mechanic weighing as little or less than he. Of course, the Targa Florio had to be contested in pairs, like the then Mille Miglia. So I introduced him to Paride Mambelli, a teenager from Forlì that Gigione Arcangeli had told me about. Tazio looked at the boy, asked him if he was afraid to race alongside him, and advised him to listen for his shouts every time he had to take a difficult corner so that they could avoid going off road. Each time Nuvolari shouted, Paride was to take cover under the dashboard so that the support beam could protect him if the car overturned. On my return from Palermo, I asked Paride how it had gone, and he candidly replied: 'Nuvolari started shouting at the first corner and finished at the last. I was curled up for the entire race'."

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