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Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce in the driving report: Days of the Targa

Michael Orth
Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce in the driving report
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I This feeling will come up at some point. Restrained, but with a stunning presence. Like a melody that you can't get rid of. The island itself sings its song to this melody. It's about a beautiful woman, the most beautiful, the song claims, and asks: Why doesn't anyone buy her a dress and invite her to dance? So the woman only has beauty, in her poverty she remains alone. This is the song of Sicily. And everyone who hears it feels this feeling, a mild sadness that can only be met with a mixture of shrugging the shoulders and excessive pride. Proud of what has been but will never be entirely in the past. Just like the Targa Florio, once the largest road race in the world.

In 1906 the Targa Florio with ten cars premiered

The song of the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce sounds different than that of the island - brighter, happier, more aggressive. The sophisticated 1300 four-cylinder barks at the crumbling facades of the crooked houses in Cerda with every thrust of the gas. Between 1956 and 1963, the Giulietta added eight class wins and umpteen top ten placements to Alfa’s track record at the Targa Florio. And when the little car accelerates out of town, the question of the reasons for this success is immediately cleared up. Does the car even weigh anything? Could the little weight have been balanced out better? In any case, no better way to hunt through the mountainous north of Sicily on the winding roads of the 72 km long Piccolo Circuito delle Madonie.

The story of the Targa Florio begins when Vincenzo Florio, Sicilian wine magnate and car fanatic, Henri Desgrange, editor of L'Auto newspaper and founder of the Tour de France, meets during a race in Auvergne. Why don't you organize something like this at home? Desgrange expresses what Florio wants anyway. In 1906 ten cars are at the start of the premiere. By 1977, 61 races followed over changing routes, between 1955 and 1973 the Targa was part of the sports car world championship.

And still today it is part of the cultural heritage of an island that must preserve the past in order to endure the present. Many young people borrowed from her who stayed have less hope of a job than the old teeth in their mouths. Perhaps the Targa is still such a big deal because afterwards there was not much glory for Sicily.

The toughest racethe world

In a similar way, the Giulietta outshines much of what followed. It was she who shaped the Alfa image after the war: sporty, innovative, robust. And: to move with a lot of fun. That still applies to the 1961 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce from Hartmut Stöppel. Once you have climbed over the cage into the narrow seat shells, everything is at hand by itself. The hard chassis, actually designed for circular routes, sends greetings on every bump on a road that lies in the mountains like an evil animal that eats everyone who is not good enough.

Even today it is more of a task than an excursion to follow the road without getting carried away, especially in the Giulietta. It's not that the track has all the difficulty imaginable. There are more.

Not only for Ferrari driver Mike Parkes, the Targa was 'the toughest race in the world because you have to be incredibly concentrated and there is no moment to relax.' The anecdote goes that strangers watched films before the first training session to get an impression of the route. Quite a few are said to have gotten sick.

'Nordschleife to the power of three'

Over the asphalt of the SS 120 A hand-width line is drawn with five letters above it: Start. They've all been here, tense to the tips of their hair, wet in their racing suits, and not just because of the heat. Nuvolari, Ferrari, Moss, Fangio, Bonnier, Munari, Siffert, Hill ... The aura of the extraordinary still surrounds this place, even when the paddock and grandstands crumble and the pigeons from the bust of Vincenzo Florio poop on the head.

The Targa only shows its true colors in the mountains. And the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce her real talent. 'The track is Nordschleife to the power of three,' said Helmut Marko in 1972. And with his Alfa 33 TT3 he set a race lap record for eternity: 33 minutes, 41 seconds, average 128. Today the Giulietta has no chance of this speed anywhere on the circuit reach at all. Which is less about the car than the condition of the roads. Already in the first corner the Giulietta pulls out of the rear. So slowly, it's no longer a race.

Giulietta Sprint Veloce is robust, spontaneously easy to turn, devoid of airs - young.

The Targa Florio was more than that than the 1954 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce, the Sedan and Spider the following year and the Sprint Veloce the following year. With them the Milanese masses opened up without producing mass-produced goods. The simple aluminum four-cylinder with the characteristic double-cam head was Alfa good until the nineties. In historical comparison, the 1300 is outstanding, currently still fascinating: robust, spontaneously easy to turn, free of airs. Young. The same goes for the simple but not inelegant chassis construction with which the amDifferential housing screwed reaction triangle. The rigid rear axle guides you in such a way that you often, but not too surprisingly, have the pleasure of catching the rear with the help of the very direct steering and the gas. There is plenty of opportunity to do so on the Targa route. More than 500 bends.

The doors of some houses have been nailed shut, they say, so that people don't run blindly into the street on race day. Posters were stuck up everywhere: animals were to be locked up, children should not be let out of sight by their mothers - mind you. The course was only closed for the final training and the race. The normal training sessions took place in public traffic. Which meant that you always ran the risk of digging yourself into a donkey cart around a bend.

Even those who made it to the finish had a victory to celebrate. Nino Vaccarella is a teacher in Palermo. In 1965 he wins the Targa Florio. Then the teacher for Sicily becomes a hero. In 1971 he wins for the second time. Then the hero becomes immortal. Four years later he wins again. Then the immortal becomes a god.

The Giulietta crackles softly

Since then it has stood on a gray wall in Collesano in large letters: NINO. The name stands there like the symbol for something that time cannot affect, as long as people only believe in it. On the way to Campofelice and then on the long straight along the sea, you get the impression that this will never change on this island. Back at the crumbling grandstands, the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Sprint Veloce crackles quietly to itself. How about if they opened the pit lanes, boarded the front doors again, and you would slowly roll forward to the white starting line? The Giulietta would be there immediately.

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