This race was the brainchild of the wealthy race driver and automobile enthusiast, Vincenzo Florio, who in 1906 created the first race run over 3 laps equaling 277 miles, over the most treacherous mountain roads on Sicily, Italy. Alessandro Cagno won the inaugural race in 9 hours and with an average speed of 30 mph. Over the years, the race length was repeatedly altered, the track had many hundreds of curves and bends over the unclosed public roads with sheer cliffs and very little means to prevent cars and driver disappearing over the edge.
Neither were there any safeguard provisions for the many daredevil spectators, perched on the outside of corners, cheering on their heroes literally inches away from the speeding cars. As the years progressed, so did the cars’ power and speed, culminating in several very serious accidents. One driver called the race, “totally insane”, and during the 1977 event after several very bad accidents, the police forcibly stopped the race. The venue still exists, but on a completely different level. With the variations of track lengths used, the fastest lap times ever set on these treacherous public roads were just under 80 mph
Some years later, the publisher challenged me to depict a historical racing scene which would combine my usual realistic technical representation with a realistic background atmosphere. Without any hesitation I chose the Targa Florio. I also chose to paint one of Mexico’s most fearless drivers – the 18-year old Ricardo Rodriguez who, along with his equally fearless older brother, Pedro, were signed up to drive a Ferrari 196S for the North American Racing Team (NART).
My image shows the extremities that all drivers would have to endure – both in weather and of geographical nature – and in the fullest of knowledge that the seemingly sturdy stone-built walls would yield to the might of a racecar – none of which deterred the brave Rodriguez brothers.
Prints – Run of 150, signed and numbered. 24” x 30” – $135 + p&p. Giclees – Run of 50, signed and numbered. 24″ x 30” – $995 + p&p.
Size: 24″ x 30″ – Framed
Medium: Enamel paint on canvas