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Targa History

In May 1906, Vincenzo Florio, the car-loving son of a prominent Sicilian family, established one of the world’s greatest road races. The event took participants on a ride through the spectacular, narrow, winding and precipitous roads around the Mediterranean island, demanding the highest road racing and rally skills to complete the course.

The prize offered by Florio for the winner was a simple, yet coveted plate bearing the Florio family crest. As the word for plate in Italian is Targa, the event was appropriately named Targa Florio.

Sadly, Targa Florio is no longer run to its original format, but over the decades, Vincenzo Florio’s ‘Targa’ has inspired enthusiasts to continue his legacy, half a world away. 

In 1990, Max Stahl and John Large met over dinner at Large’s Perth home with ideas for a tarmac rally involving classic cars on Tasmania’s picturesque driving roads. Within a few hours of brainstorming and an almost “spontaneous combustion”, the essential framework for Targa Tasmania was constructed.

In his role as CAMS president, Large had various Tasmanian’s trying to come up with an event for the state and as a born-and-bred Tasmanian himself, was a driving force in getting a tarmac rally up and running in Tasmania.

Equally, determined enthusiasts helped both Large and Stahl and collectively they turned their dream into reality in April 1992 when the inaugural Targa Tasmania was held. The inaugural event covered 2000km of the island; some 472km reserved for unbridled Targa stages.

The success of the first event saw many eager expressions of interest for the follow-up event in 1993 and made it clear that Targa Tasmania was about to explode into a much bigger, truly national event.

With the combination of a new expanded competition and class structure, better communications and the fine-tuning of an already world class route, the 1993 Targa Tasmania solidified the event’s new-found legend status and place on the annual motorsport calendar.

As Targa Tasmania grew, so too did the competitive offering – smaller two and three day events were offered around the country creating the CAMS Australian Targa Championship.

From the rugged World Heritage wilderness of Tasmania, to the tropical rainforest and coastal roads of Queensland, and across the alpine mountains of Victoria’s High Country, competitors compete for the prestigious CAMS Australian Targa Championship title.  

Over the years, thousands have been enchanted by the allure of Targa’s ‘money can’t buy experience’. It’s the rawest form of motorsport where legends compete with the novice, side-by-side. Where winning is not always the aim, but where camaraderie overtakes competition.

It’s an addictive experience, a sense of accomplishment impossible to find anywhere else in the world of motorsport. 

It is Targa!




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