Racing Demons
Porsche and the Targa Florio

Racing Demons - Porsche and the Targa Florio

by Michael Keyser, Mark Koense and Enzo Manzo

Where to begin? Well, let’s begin with the dimensions. This book is 11½" by 11½". It weighs six pounds and contains 324 pages. Why is this important? Because, unlike any race other than the Mille Miglia, the people of the towns and villages were passionately invested in the event. This book, with its large format images gives a dramatic overview of the rugged Sicilian countryside and the hundreds of thousands of spectators that flocked to the event each year.

It is the story of Sicilian aristocrat Vincenzo Florio, his lifelong passion for motorsports and this unique race. It is also about Ferdinand Porsche, a German car designer who first attended the Targa in 1922 with Austro-Daimler. Years later, the company that bore his name would return to dominate it over a twenty year span. The first part of the book is about the history if the race and how it came to be, How it was halted due to two world wars, but each time resurrected to become a supreme test of man and machine. Nobody ever won the Targa who was faint of heart. Keyser chronicles in word and gloriuos images after glorious image Porsche's successes and failures, from it's informal entrance in 1953 at the 37th Targa with a privately entered 356 to the 57th and final race in 1973, which Porsche won in a 911 RSR 3.0, and all the races in between.

Publisher Michael Keyser, his Dutch writer friend Mark Koense, and Sicilian historian Enzo Manso have produced a rich tableau of exciting race cars shown hurtling along the deserted roads and populated Sicilian towns.

The cover photo shows the Redman/Siffert 908 Porsche that won the race in 1970 wending its way through a typical Sicilian mountain town. Their path is bracketed by 20’ high walls and three tiers of housing climbing up a rocky mountainside which is populated by real race fans, some dressed casually, an older man wearing a dark suit, white shirt and tie, and other people with their backs to the action seemingly oblivious to it all.

Though physically heavy, the book has many lighthearted parts, not the least of which is a whimsical two page cartoon of the circuit by Roger Warwick. there are stories throughout about locals who insisted on being part the action by displaying large banners supporting local drivers or by pillaging wrecked and abandoned racecars. It also contains images of the posters of Porsche's 11 wins and a well laid out chart with details of every Porsche that competed at the Targa.

Michael Keyser earned the right to write and publish this book. An accomplished racer who won Sebring in 1976, he also raced at Le Mans, the Nurburgring, and Monza. He drove in the Targa Florio once, finishing tenth in 1972, co-driving with Jurgen Barth.Keyser also produced The Speed Merchants, an award winning film that chronicles the 1972 Manufacturers Championship season, narrated by Mario Andretti and Vic Elford. Bravo to all!