OURSLER: The Rambling Road


CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Sicily is an island that is a paradise for writers.

Rugged and in many ways untouched by time. As the home of the Mafia, it has lent itself as the setting for many crime novels and even major movies. For racing enthusiasts, though, the focus is less on organized crime and more on the last of the great natural road course events — the Targa Florio.

In a world grown used to purpose-built circuits dedicated as much to safety as speed, the idea of a 44-mile circuit running over twisting, narrow roads through the countryside and the heart of the villages scattered along the way from the seashore through the mountains and back again is nearly unimaginable.

Yet, from 1906 through 1973, only interrupted by World War II, that was what the Targa Florio was all about.

Such were the circumstances that the course was not even closed for practice, meaning that the drivers pushing their cars to the limit not only had to contend with the boulders and curbs lining their often poorly paved path, but also the cows, donkeys and civilian traffic spawned by everyday life. The resulting consequences for instant disaster were constant throughout.

Those dangers were put an end at the Targa’s counterparts such as the Mille Miglia and Mexico’s Carrera Pan Americana, and eventually the Targa itself. Even though the memories of these benchmark affairs has faded into history’s dustbins, they deserve to be remembered, which is exactly Autosports Marketing Associate’s Michael Keyser has done with his latest work, “Racing Demons; Porsche and the Targa Florio,” which is written with Mark Koense and Enzo Manzo.

Despite its title, this word and picture work, covers far more than just the German manufacturer’s years of participation in the Targa, where it scored its first outright victory in 1956.

The unique volume provides both a comprehensive written history of the race, supported by a visual record made up of mostly previously unpublished photographs. Together the book recreates a tale of a venue that demanded courage and skill blended together in equal measure seasoned by luck for all seeking success.

The book is available from Autosports Marketing Associates, LTD. PO Box 134, Butler, MD, 21023 and online at www.autosportsltd.com.