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Cheering for Ferrari: Targa Florio in Sicily, May, 1972

The Targa Florio in Sicily was the last important race held on unmodified public roads. Ferrari was of course always a leading favorite, wildly cheered by the spectators as here. For the May 21, 1972 running when this photograph was taken the Targa consisted of 11 laps of the 72 km Piccolo Madonie circuit. Seen above and finishing first overall was the Ferrari 312PB driven by Arturo Merzario and rally specialist Sandro Munari. There was a great duel between the lone Ferrari and the four factory Alfa Romeo T33/TT3s. At the finish the elapsed time of the winning Ferrari was only 16.9 seconds less than that of the second place Alfa driven by Nanni Galli and Helmut Marko after almost 6½ hours of racing. Another of the T33/TT3s finished third.

The roads used for the Targa were both dangerous and exceedingly rough which underlined that the Ferrari, which was a sort of sports car version of their current F1 car, and the similarly complex Alfas were even able to complete the long race, As was not unusual at the Targa as many cars failed to finish as those which were still running when the first three cars completed their 11 laps. After the first three, all the rest had been lapped from one to four times.

Arturo Merzario was an accomplished top level sports car driver who started out with Fiat-Abarths in the 1960s before being picked up by Ferrari in 1970 for sports cars. He also had some F1 drives with both Ferrari and Frank Williams in the early 1970s. Thoughout the 1970s Merzario continued to drive many different sports cars, including many Abarths, but also drove top line Alfa Romeo sports cars. He even continued to take lesser GT car drives up to the age of 70. Sandro Munari began as a rally driver in the 1960s and became a real force in the World Rally Championship in the 1970s, mostly driving a Lancia Stratos HF, and continued to compete in the Safari Rally in Kenya well into the 1980s. His racing was usually in smaller Lancias. Munari's rally experience was a great help in the Targa which was sort of like a rally special stage, but without pace notes.

Photo by Nigel Snowdon ©The Klemantaski Collection –

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