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New Dates for Australian Targa Florio 2020

By Drivers, News, Victoria

We have taken the decision to reschedule  the 2020 Australian Targa Florio from 26th to 28th November 2020 to

25th to 28th February 2021 

 

With 3 months to go until the event and with the current state of COVID related restrictions on border movements and public events we have rescheduled the event to ensure that it is a safe and enjoyable event for all involved.  Following consultation with State and Local Government, with key stakeholders, the local community and many of you, the rescheduled dates have been set to ensure that we are all able to enjoy a great time in February. Clearly this week’s extensions to restrictions made the decision to postpone the event the correct one.

We will continue to work away to ensure the event gives everyone a highlight to look forward to.

 

Getting back on the road is something we are all very much looking forward too.

Please stay positive and stay well.

Duck and Whale Article

By Drivers, News, Victoria

The “Duck and Whale” June 2020 edition included a great interview with Rene Aalhuizen, who competed in the 2019 event with his fantastic 1955 speedster.

As owner of Prestige Auto Traders Rene has some amazing cars – the Speedster remains a favourite for Rene and everyone as it purred through Victoria’s winding backroads.  Thanks, Rene, for a great description of the Australian Targa Florio event.

“ONE THING WITH THESE EVENTS IS THAT YOU CANT FAKE THE CULTURE OF THE EVENT, AND THE CULTURE WAS FANTASTIC”

Like every other driver I accept that things break down, if that happens then im happy to just peel off onto the shoulder be a spectator for a while,  That same scenario, but this time with a front end problem on the Targa Florio roads in Italy somewhere, the end result could likely be much different.  Ill be gone or full of regret if there was something mechanical that I could have done to prevent it.

I have to say the Targa Florio Australian Tribute was absolutely fantastic, the husband and wife who run it are the loveliest people.  I’ve never met a bunch of like minded people who were there just for the love of cars, who l;iked to have a beer at the end of the day, who enjoyed taking the piss out of each other’… laugh their heads off, and then start the whole process again in the morning. It really didn’t matter what you drove or where you were in the results, you just knew that you were part of something.

As society standards change, it sometimes seems like there isn’t an experience in Australia which does not end up stifled, with its energy removed.  But, here there were father and son teams, mixed in with people who took it more seriously and everyone was really enjoying themselves.  One bloke in an old mash hat was looking at my ‘derelict’ and telling me I’d be lucky to make it.  By the last day he and I both had smiles on our faces and everybody was sitting around in groups, with people they didn’t know a few days before, and everyone knows who everyone else is.  It was perfect!

We would do point to point stages, hill climbs etc and we would go to wineries during the day for lunch.

The organisers had everything setup.  Then it would be pouring with rain and we would be driving through forests or set up speed trials.  One thing with these events is that you can’t fake the culture in the event, and this culture was fantastic!

When I crossed the line in Carlton, I actually ran out of fuel as I drove in.  There were 20000 people there and, rather than it being embarrassment, I had people pushing the car in to make sure I made it and everyone was cheering.  It was a very memorable, even emotional, moment.

The Targa Florio guy from Sicily came over and won.  Seems that he has done twenty of them and he also does the modern version of the Mille Miglia, mirroring as close as possible the original run 24 times between 1927 and 1957.

There we were giving him a bit of stick, having some fun with him and so he says “So I will see you in Sicily in 2020, no?” and I reply “Sure no problem!” So just like that, now I’m entered into the famous Italian event.  How could one refuse?

Roo Spotting on the Targa Florio – James Nicholls

By Drivers, News, Victoria

It wasnt just kangaroos, but wombats, exotic coloured parrots, wallabies, cockatoos and a host of unusual flora and fauna not seen in Sicily. And the reason, this was not the Targa Florio, first run in 1906, but the Targa Florio Australian Tribute, an officially sanctioned event honouring the legendary Targa Florio, vision of Vincenzo Florio, and the first ever car race in the world. This was the third running of the Tributo, and it certainly embodied the spirit of the Sicilian classic. Whilst there are no medieval villages around the next bend in Australia there were plenty of opportunities to experience the Italianicity of a country where half a million Italians live and work. 150,000 of these are Sicilian, and as we drove the 1,200 kms around the State of Victoria over four days, it seemed like every one of those car-crazy Sicilians, reared on over 100 years of the most famous car race in the world, had turned out to meet and greet us. On the same weekend that much of the Eastern part of Australia seemed to be burning due to the terrible bushfires, so much so that the final round of the 2019 FIA World Rally Championship due to be held at Coffs Harbour in Northern New South Wales had to be cancelled, the entrants of this Regularity Race enjoyed weather of a much different kind. It is oft said that Melbourne, the State Capital, can experience four seasons in one day and so it proved to be for the competitors in the Targa Florio Australian Tribute. For a competition it certainly is. Showing how serious this is Angelo Pizzuto, President of the Automobile Club Palermo (which runs the real thing) was on the start line with his navigator Caterina Vagliani in a sprightly MGA. Yes, it was serious, but at the same time great fun as we drove an incredible variety of wonderful roads through an array of topography: rain forest; rolling pastures; mountains; farmland; craggy cliffs; vineyards; through small country towns and along country tracks; twisting hill climbs; empty beaches; ocean roads. It was on the most famous ocean road of all, the Great Ocean Road, celebrating its centenary, that the event began at Point Danger in Torquay. The Great Ocean Road is on the Australian National Heritage List and credited with being the world’s largest war memorial, its 243 kms dedicated to those who fell in the Great War and built by those lucky enough to return home. What a road, hugging the rugged coastline, it is an idyllic sweep and curve of non-stop vistas and panoramic views, hardly surprising that so many wish to visit it. With my co-driver, both of us rally virgins, I was hoping to be cruising along in my 1975 Citroën DS, a hugely comfortable design icon and successful machine at the Monte Carlo, Liège-Sofia-Liège, East African Safari, and Rallye du Maroc et al back in the 1960s. Unfortunately, it was still in the shop, so a kind friend lent me his 1982 Mercedes-Benz 380SL which meant that we were now in the Legends rather than the Classica class. This was not a problem though as we all, ran together around the route through the Mornington Peninsular, Phillip Island, and the Yarra Valley. Being from Sydney we trucked our car to Melbourne with eight or nine others. Included amongst these were father and son team, Carlos and Filipe Piteira, originally from Portugal and seemingly with rallying blood in their veins driving an Alfa 105 GTV 1750 (car #29) – speed seemed of the essence for this pair, so many points were accumulated over the timed sections, average speed tests (PM), and regularity stages (time trials or PC). Disappointingly for them, the idea however, is not to score penalty points!
Taking it slightly steadier but still racking up the penalties were Glen Drysdale and Jeremy Best. Glen, a collector of fine automobiles in pristine condition, had been persuaded to bring along his rare Australian delivered, factory right hand drive, manual transmission, 1972 Maserati Indy America 4700 before it undergoes a full restoration in Jeremy’s hands back to pristine condition. Glen now has the rallying bug though whether in the future this will be as a navigator or driver remains to be seen. For me, my future, if any, is as a navigator, as Sascha is a much, much better (and faster) driver and he also gets travel sickness reading the detailed Road Book provided to us at scrutineering. At scrutineering we were also given our car number. Number 101, made me slightly apprehensive. Were we to experience some form of Orwellian torture facing our worst fears in the Mercedes-Benz metal room that was to be our home for the next four days? Any qualms were quickly allayed through the wonderful organisation of the event, and the sheer unadulterated pleasure of the ever changing scenery and the magnificent driving roads that had been set out for us: a veritable movable automotive feast – driving, eating well, and exchanging stories and anecdotes of daring do at the end of each day. Everywhere we went local communities were out to watch us drive by, school children stood in the rain waving flags as though we were Vincenzo Lancia or Felice Nazzaro early pioneers of the Targa Florio from before the First World War, Achille Varzi or Giovanni ‘Ernesto’ Ceirano, or legendary runners from the 1960s such Arturo Merzario or Nino Vaccarella, or Jacky Ickx from 1973. Another of the Sydney contingent which certainly tried to live up to the legend were Rene Aalhuizen and navigator James Andrea in a 1955 Porsche Speedster. Dressed like Biggles and Snoopy to protect themselves from the very cold, often wet, sometimes sunny, and occasionally foggy weather, they cut a swathe though the field in their fast, open car. One or two had turned up their noses at the bodywork of the gallant Porsche little realising that underneath its battered, unrestored bodywork, this wolf in sheep’s clothing could fly like the proverbial off a shiny new shovel. The gregarious, likeable, Rene is nothing if not competitive, and despite this being his first outing at this type of event, car number 9 finished a very creditable third in class and fourth overall. If his navigator had been able to read as fast as Rene could drive and not directed his pilot into so many wrong turns, then a maiden victory could possibly have been on the cards. Ultimately though it was the experts who took the prize, Pizzuto and Vagliani wearing the laurel wreath of outright victory in front of thousands, and I mean thousands, of excited spectators basking in the warm Spring sun as the cars arrived at the finish on Lygon Street in Carlton for the annual Melbourne Italian Festa. Special mention should go to organisers Linda and Andrew Lawson who did a sterling job throughout and competed in their beautiful 1951 Lancia Aurelia B20 Coupé, finishing two spots in front of car number 101, which somehow finished a hard fought fourth in class and 17th overall. My personal favourite bit was covering the 10.6km road course of the old 1928–1935 Australian Grand Prix circuit located 2km south of the town of Cowes on an island near the Australian south coast. Next year the aim is to be on the podium on an island near the Italian south coast – this sport is contagious!

Entry pass to the premiere of RACER.

RACER – Alfie Costanzo

By Drivers, Ferrari No Comments

The story of the racing life of the Australian Driving Champion Alfredo Costanzo.

The movie RACER is a great tribute to the Australian Driving Champion Alfredo Costanzo. Produced by independent film production company Weightless. The project delivered under the watchful eye of film maker Will Gaffney. The inspiration for this project was none other than Alf’s Costanzo’s son Alf Jnr.

Will Gaffney was thrilled to be invited to bring this project to life;

“Production on the documentary “Racer” about the life and career of 4-time Australian Gold Star Drivers Champion Alfie Costanzo was great. This project has been an incredible experience to being invited into the Costanzo family and drawing out such an amazing story from so many wonderful people.”

Over 500 people gathered at the Westfield Village Cinemas in Doncaster for one of the centres biggest ever private screenings. Family, Friends and associates enjoyed this great documentary of the trials and tribulations of Alfredo Costanzo and his quest to be the best driver in Australia.

The Targa Florio Australian Tribute has been privileged to have Alf and Carlo Travaglini participate in the inaugural 2017 event. They won the Ferrari Tributo category driving a beautiful 2017 Ferrari California and have continued to be an integral part of the event in 2018.

Congratulations to the RACER, Alfie Costanzo.