Targa Florio: Final Day on Historic Route
The first stop in the morning was at the Historic Starting Line of the Targa Florio.
This 275GTB got the prime parking space in front of the billboard. I don’t think the effect would have been as dramatic with our Mondial!
Within minutes of setting off from the Start line of the original Targa Florio, the weather got nasty. Between downpours, there were high gusts of winds making spirited driving nearly impossible. Unfortunately Bob had the first leg of driving, so he had to deal with the rain. Add to the fact that these roads were still open to the public, we had our hands full.
By lunch, the weather had cleared up and we returned to driving fast!
I was glad to see Richard’s 330 still running the Targa. By the third day, I tried to reel back my enthusiasm one notch to keep from doing something stupid on the last day, but I still had a couple high speed, engine on full cam, passes left. Sorry Richard!
I mentioned my sister Judy scored a ride with the Ferrari Support Team after my friend Chris pulled some strings, but by day three her ride got upgraded. Ferrari brought a couple 458 Stradales to the Targa to use as loaners if there were any breakdowns, and Judy got to ride in one for a couple of stages. She had never ridden in another Ferrari besides my 330 America, so I knew she was in for a treat.
The head of Operational Marketing Luca Zanetti of Ferrari was her pilot, and based on her excitement when I saw her at the end of the day, I think my sister will have more than a few stories to tell!
As the three day rally started to wind down to the last couple of stages, I was relieved we made it to the end without any incidents that left permanent damage. I think Bob and I took turns scaring each other with our respective driving skills, but we were still speaking to each other at the end of it. Just when I was about to relax, Chris pulled over in his 328 and flagged us to pull over. After hearing about how much I was enjoying the Mondial, he wanted to swap cars to see for himself. The challenge I had was his 328 was a RHD car that I was to drive in a LHD world! I had not driven a RHD extensively since my trip to Australia 7 years ago, and it was on some pretty empty Australian roads. The last stage of this rally was to bring us into downtown Palermo where traffic resembles the mad rush for open seating at a Phish concert!
Chris was our generous host for this trip and I wasn’t about to disappoint him, so I bravely jumped into his car. This wasn’t the first 328 I’ve driven, but having the steering wheel on the right hand side had me pretty discombobulated. The seating was much more laid back than the Mondial, and visibility made me feel like I was sitting in a WWII pill box when compared to the Mondial, but after about 5 minutes, I began to relax and enjoy myself. The new tires on this car were wonderful in the amount grip they offered, something I lived without for the whole trip in the Mondial. I found myself pushing harder and harder, braking later and accelerating harder on the exits of the turns. For once, I left Chris in the dust following in the Mondial. Bob was awfully quiet sitting next to me.
We cruised on the Autostrada at over 100mph into Palermo and I managed to navigate our way to our hotel without incident. I shut the car off, and realized we were at the end of a three day rally that I will remember forever. I hope it won’t be my last, but you never forget your first!
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