Porsche 908-3, 1970 Targa Florio, Brian Redman, Jo Siffert

Targa Florio – History & Race Profile

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.”

Porsche at Targa Florio 1968
1969 Targa Florio. Ferry Porsche in conversation with (from l-to-r) racing drivers Umberto Maglioli, Dick Attwood, Brian Redman, Ferry Porsche, Hans Herrmann, Udo Schütz, Rolf Stommelen (with glasses), Vic Elford, Rudi Lins and Gérard Larrousse. Gerhard Mitter is at the wheel of the Porsche 908/02, with race number 266. The 1969 Targa Florio was a great success for Porsche: 1st place went to Gerhard Mitter and Udo Schütz; 2nd to Vic Elford and Umberto Maglioli; 3rd to Hans Herrmann and Rolf Stommelen; and 4th to Karl von Wendt and Willi Kauhsen. All were in Porsche 908/02 Spiders. (Photo: Porsche AG)
Brian Redman, Porsche 908-3, 1970 Targa Florio
Brian Redman driving the winning Porsche 908/3 at the 1970 Targa Florio. (Photo: Porsche AG)

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.

Alfa Romeo T33-3, Nino Vaccarella, Toine Hezemans, 1971 Targa Florio
The Alfa Romeo T33/3 of Nino Vaccarella and Toine Hezemans finished first at the 1971 Targa Florio. (Photo: Autosports Marketing Associates)
1973 Targa Florio, Ferrari 312 PB, Jackie Ickx, Brian Redman
Practice at the 1973 Targa Florio - the Ferrari 312 PB of Jackie Ickx and Brian Redman. (Photo: Brian Redman Collection)

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]

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Show Comments (10)

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  1. Great retrospective by Mr. Evans. I knew somewhere in my noggin that the Targa Florio was raced way back when, but I had no idea that it started in 1906. Those old pictures are very interesting, especially the details in the background. Thanks to all.

  2. If my reading is correct, the first two “Targa Florio’s” were run before 1906. They were run, not in Sicily,
    but in northen Italy, starting and ending in Brescia which would eventually become the home of the Mille Miglia.
    They were races that were organized and competed in, by Vincenzo Florio himself. They did not circumnavigate Italy as the Mille Miglia later would, but were run as several laps around a closed course in the Brescia-Cremona region. Florio was a northen Italian, not a Sicilian. For various reasons he had to move the race to Sicily where he was welcomed. But the first two were called “Coppa Florio’s” after the very artistic cup he put up for the winner.
    I think that his race in 1906 might have been the first formal “Targa” however.
    Feel free to correct me on this.

  3. What goes around comes around. I noticed the wheels on the early racers are the same as we see on customized cars of today.

  4. Don’t understand the James Dean connection – wasn’t he a rank amateur whose talent fell far short of those who actually took on the Targa Florio, or any other serious motor race?

    1. I was pointing out those who were well-known race driver who died that year. Of course, he was an amateur. I knew him and say him race at Palm Springs. Obviously he was an amateur, but he WAS well known. – Art Evans

  5. Thank you, Mr. Evans, for this excellent retrospective on the Targa Florio. My wife and I spent a few weeks in Sicily last year and drove the 45 mile piccolo circuito delle Madonie, which was the circuit used during the last three decades of the Targa Florio, before the last race was run in 1977. The piccolo circuito is a 45-mile, 72 kilometer, 700-turn torture test of man and machine in the western Madonie mountains. A complete race consisted of eleven laps. The race started a couple of miles north of Cerda, where grandstands, pit walls, and a statue of Vincenzo Florio still stand. It proceeded counter-clockwise through Cerda and south to Caltavuturo, then turned north toward the Tyrrhenian Sea, passing through Collesano on the way to the seaside town of Campofelice and the long 3.7 mile Buonfornello straight along the coast, before turning south toward Cerda once again. The circuit is public road, used by locals, trucks and buses, and farmers herding livestock. Several sections of the road have eroded away, requiring one-lane etiquette. That said, the drive is spectacular, the scenery unimaginably beautiful. And even as someone who has done some racing, I have no comprehension of how difficult this race must have been to drive, especially considering the lap record is something under 34 minutes! It took us over six hours, with a stop at the small but excellent Museo Targa Florio in Collesano, and lunch afterward at Trattoria Carricaturi Di Barranco Filippo, where, after praising the “occhi di lupo” pasta dish, the chef came to our table and gave us the recipe!

  6. Thank you very much for the great piece and photo collection Mr. Evans. A real pleasure to read and relive the great moments of this fantastic event. By the sound of it, each year would probably deserve a whole article onto itself, considering how much appeared to happen every time.

    Looking forward to your next piece and thanking you again for this one,

    Sincerely Yours,

    Vincent Metais.

  7. Thank you for the fantastic photos Mr Evans a real pleasure and a great piece of history..I was born in the village of Sciara on the other side of the valley from Cerda in full view of each other.I also enjoyed the beautiful seanery that some of the pictures provided.In some early photos you can actually see my home town.My father was actually born there in 1906 and his father had a Vineyard in the area called la Canna, where the actual races started.I have allways heard of these races but not to this magnatude,and never knew these fantastic photos even exsisted.The next time i visit there i will make it a must to do the circuit in my car.By the way i will be staying in a bed,breakfast called TARGAFLORIO.

    Sincerely yours

    Michael Fragale

  8. My grandfather W A Hollick (British) took part in the 1907 race. I have a photograph of him in his car at the race.Must have been quite an adventure!