For a company based in Stuttgart Germany, Porsche built much of its early racing reputation in Italy.
The Mille Miglia started in 1927 and signified 1000 Roman miles; with a point-to-point course beginning from Brescia to Rome and back. Enzo Ferrari called it the most beautiful race in the world.
Porsche took class wins there in the 1950s.
Only three non-Italians won the Mille Miglia overall, and one was Huschke von Hanstein in a BMW 328 in 1940. He would later become Porsche PR and motorsports director.
The Targa Florio was the inspiration of Vincenzo Florio who came from a wealthy Sicilian family. The race predates the Mille Miglia and the course ran through the hills of Sicily.
In 1956, von Hanstein drove a Porsche 550 Spyder from Stuttgart to Sicily for Umberto Maglioli to drive, and as co-drivers they scored Porsche’s first major international overall win.
It was here the 718s saw victory in the late 50s which lead to a string of victories by the 904, 910, 907, 908, 911.
The famed 917 was too much for the tight roads that snaked through the Sicilian towns so Porsche brought light, short-wheelbase cars similar to hill climb cars.
Porsche won the Targa Florio overall 11 times and had 32 podium finishes. From the Targa Florio they stepped up to conquer France at the 24-Hours of Le Mans.
Today each May the Mille Miglia Storica relives the period in a rally-tour format. The only thing remaining of the Targa Florio is the pit area and starting line grandstand buildings and some small museums in the area.
FYI: here are videos of visits last year. Off to the Mille this year, Italy is special.
All the best.
2016 Mille Miglia+more
Motorspirit in Rome for Supercar Roma Auto Show; Mille Miglia arrives in Rome, then onto Parma.
Motorspirit in Sicily to remember the Targa Florio, 1906-1977. The cars, the drivers, and the roads.