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The Belle Epoque of the Targa Florio Races

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  • A 1906 Fiat featured in the film – Pistons, Passions & Sicilian Pleasures

The Belle Epoque of the Targa Florio Races, is an interesting new book written by David Biggins and Antonio Lombardi. It is an introduction to the early Targa Floria Race story that is being told by them via the publication, and the upcoming movie Pistons, Passions & Sicilian Pleasures. 

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  •         1904 Florio                       1906 Cagno                     1913 Nazzaro

The first Targa Florio was organized by Italian enthusiast Vincenzo Florio in 1906. The race at that time was a three lap event over a 92.7-mile circuit on the island of Sicily. Alessandro Cagno in an Itala won the event, taking 9.5 hours to finish, while averaging 29 mph for the run: Carlo Graziani was second in another Itala, and Paul Bablot in a Berliet was third. Florio a prominent Sicilian had previously initiated the Coppa Brescia held in Italy and first run there in 1900. It was renamed the Coppa Florio in 1905 after he offered the initial prize money and a trophy for the race.

Chapter I of this new book tells the story of the Targa during the pre-war period between 1906 to 1914, and it is also profusely illustrated with the best period photographs and artwork to be found. In Chapter II, Alain de Cadenet, a commentator for ESPN and the old Speed Channel, puts the story into perspective as only a racing driver can. He explains about just how hard and grueling the experience was for both the competitors and the early racing machines on the very primitive circuit.

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  • Nazzaro piloting the winning Fiat in 1907

In Chapter III, the reader is then treated to over twenty pages covering the details of the sixteen cars appearing in the movie, included are period and contemporary images of the racers, many by Becca Parker of BP Motorspirt. The next treat in the book is Chapter IV which is titled, The Early Life and Times of Vincenzo Florio. It contains extracts and photos from the biography of Vincenzo Florio, which were featured in the 1955 book Targa Florio: An Authentic History of the Famous Motor Race by W.F. Bradley. Included with it are many more outstanding photographs from Bradley’s book.

And finally the last chapter in the book covers the impact of the motorcar and the races on the culturally unique island of Sicily, and many of the details involved with the production of the film. The book is available from Upfolds Media in the U.K. and will also be distributed in the U.S. by Racemaker Press. 

Take a few minutes to view the movie trailer below to see what all the excitement is all about. A new trailer for the movie will hopefully be on the website soon. Upfolds current plans are to shoot the rest of the film this year and edit and release it in 2015.       

4 responses to “The Belle Epoque of the Targa Florio Races

  1. I keep reading about that film (Pistons/Passions) and finding this promotional video. But I can’t find any info about the full version of the film. One Film Festival site says it’s only ten minutes long.

    Really enjoy the video, but it’s only whetted my appetite for the whole thing!

    Does anyone have any information on the actual film, where/when it’s avalable, etc.?

    Tom M.

  2. I posted a video on YouTube of my experience in the passenger’s seat of a 1909 SCAT Targa Florio replica (suburban streets only). It was fun but an exposed position like that on unsealed roads would have meant you were peppered by stones flung from the front wheel.
    SCAT was in the fray of the Targa before WWI and the cars placed well, winning at least once.

    Looking forward to this film!

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