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?