Piccolo Circuito Madonie - Palermo (I), 8 May 1932.
8 laps x 72.0 km (44.7 mi) = 576.0 km (357.9 mi)


1Guido D'IppolitoScuderia FerrariAlfa Romeo6C 1750 GS1.8S-6
2Carlo CazzanigaC. CazzanigaBugattiT37A1.5S-4
3Silvio RondinaS. RondinaO.M.6652.2S-6
4Antonio BrivioScuderia FerrariAlfa RomeoMonza2.3S-8
5Louis ChironL. ChironBugattiT512.3S-8
6Mario U. BorzacchiniScuderia FerrariAlfa RomeoMonza2.3S-8
7Luigi FagioliOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati8C 28002.8S-8
8Amedeo RuggeriOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati8C 28002.8S-8
9Archimede RosaA. RosaBugattiT35B2.3S-8
10Tazio NuvolariScuderia FerrariAlfa RomeoMonza2.3S-8
11Clemente BiondettiC. BiondettiMBSpeciale2.5S-8
12Achille VarziA. VarziBugattiT512.3S-4
13Pietro GhersiScuderia FerrariAlfa RomeoMonza2.3S-8
14Emanuele de MariaE. de MariaFiat509 S1.1S-4
15Vincenzo SciandraV. SciandraFiat509 S1.1S-4DNS - did not start
16Francesco SartorelliF. SartorelliBugattiT37A1.5S-4
Ernesto MaseratiOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati1.5DNS - did not start
Di CastroDi CastroO.M.DNA - did not appear
Costantino MagistriC. MagistriO.M.DNA - did not appear
Franco CorteseF. CorteseAlfa Romeo6C 17501.8S-6DNA - did not appear
Secondo CorsiS. CorsiMaserati261.5S-8DNA - did not appear

Nuvolari wins the 23rd Targa Florio with Alfa Romeo

by Hans Etzrodt
Chiron was the only foreigner in this Italian event where just 16 cars arrived for the race, two from the Maserati works, five Scuderia Ferrari Alfa Romeos and two Bugattis, entered privately by Chiron and Varzi. Seven other independents with Bugatti, O.M. and Fiat completed the field. Nuvolari who led from start to finish and Borzacchini with their Alfa Romeos dominated the race, which went over eight laps of a new shortened 72 km circuit. On the third lap Varzi's Bugatti dropped out after which he shared Chiron's car, bringing it home in third place behind Nuvolari and Borzacchini in Alfa Monzas. The 2.8-liter Maseratis had stayed in mid-field and while Fagioli retired his car after the first lap, Ruggeri was able to complete the entire distance and finished fifth. Only six cars were able to complete the hardest circuit race in the world on a very hot day.
A cyclone had caused large floods and landslides in the spring of 1931, destroying bridges and long stretches of the 108 km Medium Madonie Circuit. Therefore last year's race was reverted to the more difficult 149 km Big Madonie Circuit. There was now a real possibility that the big circuit could also be rendered useless anytime by unforeseen catastrophic weather, especially in the higher mountains. Therefore Vincenco Florio planned to change the Medium Madonie Circuit by reducing it to a length of 72 km for the 1932 race. Florio appealed to Benito Mussolini about this change and was able to interest him with the construction of a new link road from Caltavuturo to Collesano. Il Duce announced his willingness to support the improvements extensively by ordering a state subsidy of 1.5 million lire. The change mainly benefitted the spectators because the cars now had to go round the new shorter circuit eight times, instead of before only passing the grand stands five times. The Automobile Club of Sicily and its president Vincenco Florio organized and supervised the construction as of January 1932.
      The twenty-third running of the Targa Florio was set for the second Sunday in May over 576 km and represented the fourth battle of this season between the three active racing teams. The Grand Prix of Tunis had been won by Varzi with a Bugatti, the Grand Prix of Monaco had been decided by Nuvolari in an Alfa Romeo and the Royal Grand Prix of Rome had convincingly been won by Fagioli with a Maserati. This year's regulations differed little from last year, which were open for racing cars without any subdivision into classes or engine capacity. The entry fee was 1000 lire per car. Prize money of 250,000 lire was available, of which 80,000 went to the victor, 40,000 to the second and 20,000 to the third. Every competitor who would pass the finish line not later than 90 minutes after the winner would receive a bonus of 4000 lire. Every driver who completed the first four laps within the mandated time of 45 minutes after the first driver, was entitled to a prize of 2500 lire.
      While the general classification was not divided and all cars started in one class, cars participating for the Italian Championship were split into three classes, up to 1100 cc, 1100 to 1500 cc, and over 1500 cc, which did not affect the results of the general classification.
At the end of March the Auto Club di Sicilia who organized the Targa Florio event received the official entries from Bugatti and Scuderia Ferrari. At that time the Molsheim factory intended to arrive with four cars for their drivers Varzi, Chiron, Divo and Conelli. However, by the end of April only two cars for Achille Varzi and Louis Chiron were the official Bugatti entries but W.F. Bradley stated that "Varzi and Chiron decided to run as independents". Interestingly, also in 1931 Bugatti had not made official entries. Besides these two cars there were three further Bugattis, entered by amateurs Carlo Cazzaniga and Francesco Sartorelli, each in 1500 cc cars and Archimede Rosa in a 2300 cc T35B.
      S.A. Alfa Romeo was expected to arrive at the end of April with their entire team plus some independent Alfa Romeo drivers from Scuderia Ferrari. But then Scuderia Ferrari entered Tazio Nuvolari, Baconin Borzacchini, Marquis Antonio Brivio and Pietro Ghersi in 2.3-liter Monzas, backed up by Marquis Guido D'Ippolito in his privately owned 1750 Alfa. Pictures show that Nuvolari and Borzacchini both carried one spare wheel on the driver's side but no fenders at the front. Simon Moore states that Ghersi's 2.3 was equipped the same way and all three cars were Monaco Monzas on loan from the factory. A picture of Brivio's 2.3 Monza shows that he carried one cycle wing over the right front wheel only and no spare wheel was mounted to his car.
      Maserati arrived with two of their 8C 2800 cars for Luigi Fagioli and Amedeo Ruggeri. Each car carried one spare wheel to the right of the engine cowl. These cars had been fast on a course like Monza but the twisting Targa Florio circuit was to show the same problem which they experienced at Monaco, since the poor road holding had not been cured.
      Bugatti and Alfa Romeo were favored for the win. There were also two small Fiat 509S entries for Emanuele De Maria and Vincenzo Sciandra, one O.M. for Silvio Rondina and Biondetti's Special. Further entries were received early on but did not arrive or start: Ernesto Maserati (Maserati 1500), Di Castro and Costantino Magistri (O.M.), Franco Cortese (Alfa Romeo 1750) and Secondo Corsi (Maserati 1500).
It was estimated that the race over the new circuit would last eight hours. The first drivers arrived already on May 2 for practice to prepare for the race and learn the new section of the circuit. Most drivers arrived early and limited themselves to study the circuit at moderate speeds, to avoid stressing their cars. Days before the race the grandstand at Cerda experienced bustling activity. At that time whole groups of workers were still feverishly busy with the completion of the new installation. Then the drivers arrived, plus many interested parties and spectators.
The weather was relatively good. It was going to be a very hot day. The colorful, decorated grandstands were fully occupied. The starting order of the cars was according to lots drawn at the offices of the Auto Club di Sicilia. They lined up shortly before nine in front of the starter, the famous race manager Conte Vincenzo Florio.
Cars started at intervals

Exactly at nine o'clock to the signal from Baron Federici di Abriola, President of the R.A.C.I., the first driver was started, D'Ippolito (Alfa Romeo) accompanied by his mechanic. After an interval of three minutes there followed Cazzaniga and thereafter at three-minute intervals, Rondina, Brivio, Chiron, Borzacchini, Fagioli, Ruggeri, Rosa, Nuvolari, Biondetti, Varzi, Ghersi, Sciandra, De Maria and Sartorelli. Nuvolari who had won the previous year's race was the main favorite and when his time came to start, the spectators cheered wildly as he immediately shot away to show his famous daredevil tactics. Similar applause was given to the other favorites Chiron, Varzi, and Borzacchini. Most of the competitors preferred to drive solo except D'Ippolito, Rosa, Nuvolari, Biondetti, Borzacchini, Sciandra, De Maria and Sartorelli, who drove with a riding mechanic on board.
      Before the first lap was completed, Nuvolari with riding mechanic Paride Mambelli had started 15 minutes after Chiron but had considerably closed up to the Frenchman. When the cars came thundering past the finish line at the end of the first lap, Nuvolari was first with an incredible time of 53m03.4s, equal to 81,432 km/h average speed. Borzacchini and Chiron in second and third places were 43 seconds behind and separated by only half a second. Varzi followed next but already had to deal with gearbox problems. At the end of lap one Fagioli stopped at the Maserati pit and retired with a broken second gear and Sartorelli had to retire his Bugatti. Sciandra's Fiat may not have started the race according to Corrado Filippini's report in Il Littoriale. At any rate, Sciandra's retirement was not mentioned anywhere. The order by time after the first lap was:
1. Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo)53m03.4s
2. Borzacchini (Alfa Romeo)54m46.2s
3. Chiron (Bugatti)54m46.6s
4. Varzi (Bugatti)55m03.4s
5. Brivio (Alfa Romeo)55m17.2s
6. Ghersi (Alfa Romeo)55m30.8s
7. D'Ippolito (Alfa Romeo)56m38.0s
8. Ruggeri (Maserati)57m16.2s
9. Rosa (Bugatti)57m59.0s
10. Fagioli (Maserati)58m22.0s
11. Biondetti (MB-Speciale)1h00m48.0s
12. Cazzaniga (Bugatti)1h03m50.0s
13. Rondina (O.M.)1h04m34,0s
14. De Maria (Fiat)1h15m19.0s
15. Sartorelli had to retire his Bugatti
16. Sciandra's Fiat did not start or retired on lap one.
After completion of the second lap Nuvolari had further extended his advantage after he set the fastest lap of the race in 52m56.6s, an average speed of 81.596 km/h. Borzacchini still held second place, while Chiron had problems with his spark plugs but after a brief stop he was able to continue in third place. Varzi had fallen further back and stopped at his pit after lap two with a defective gearbox and did not restart. Biondetti found himself in last place. The positions after lap two were:
1. Nuvolari1h46m00s
2. Borzacchini1h49m02s
3. Chiron1h49m34s
4. Brivio1h50m45.8s
5. Ghersi1h52m33.2s
6. D'Ippolito1h53m35s
7. Ruggeri1h54m10s
8. Rosa1h55m29s
9. Varzi2h06m15s
10. Rondina2h09m06s
11. Cazzaniga2h19m21s
12. De Maria2h28m53s
13. Biondetti3h05m27s
Ruggeri had to stop for service at the pits after completing three laps while D'Ippolito and Cazzaniga retired to disappear from the lap chart. The order after lap three was:
1. Nuvolari2h39m20s
2. Borzacchini2h43m35s
3. Chiron2h45m00.4s
4. Brivio2h49m44.4s
5. Ghersi2h50m30s
6. Ruggeri2h52m32s
7. Rosa2h53m01s
8. Rondina3h13m58s
Biondetti and De Maria were already over the mandated time of 3h30m.
With the four laps completed, Chiron stopped at his pit to change rear wheels and brakes in 1m07s. Borzacchini was in his pit for 1m18s and Nuvolari changed his four tires in 1m58s. Brivio came into his pit with a broken brake and retired. When Ghersi arrived at his pit for service, Brivio took over his car. Rosa and his mechanic Favero left the road at Caltavuturo where their Bugatti turned over. Both were injured. Rosa received head wounds and Favero complicated abdominal injuries. An ambulance brought them to a hospital, where they were soon out of serious danger. The struggling Biondetti had retired. After four laps or half distance the positions were:
1. Nuvolari3h33m01.4s
2. Borzacchini3h38m29.4s
3. Chiron3h41m05.6s
4. Ghersi3h48m28s
5. Ruggeri3h52m34s
6. Rondina4h18m15s
De Maria was already too far behind to be counted
At the end of lap five, Nuvolari had once more increased his advantage over Borzacchini, which now stood at over six minutes. Chiron, who was already almost ten minutes behind the leader, again stopped at his pit and this time climbed out completely exhausted. The exertion required for this demanding race coupled with the terrible heat and the after-effect of his Monaco accident was too much for Chiron, who was indisposed and had to give up. Varzi then took over Chiron's Bugatti and chased after the Alfa Romeos, although there was no chance of catching them because the Bugatti was already too far behind. The race had settled down, there were no further incidents and the positions remained the same after the fifth lap:
1. Nuvolari4h28m38s
2. Borzacchini4h34m40s
3. Chiron/Varzi4h38m08s
4. Ghersi/Brivio4h46m38s
5. Ruggeri4h51m11s
6. Rondina5h24m47s
De Maria, who had already fallen very far behind, had retired his Fiat after five laps with a faulty clutch.
After six laps the positions of the remaining six cars had not changed:
1. Nuvolari5h22m43.4s
2. Borzacchini5h30m07s
3. Chiron/Varzi5h35m17s
4. Ghersi/Brivio5h43m01.4s
5. Ruggeri5h50m08s
6. Rondina6h29m33s
After seven laps the order was the same as before:
1. Nuvolari6h18m23.4s
2. Borzacchini6h25m43s
3. Chiron/Varzi6h37m04.4s
4. Ghersi/Brivio6h41m36s
5. Ruggeri6h50m54s
6. Rondina7h34m09s
When Nuvolari arrived at the finish on the eighth lap, a colossal thunder of applause erupted. The hero of the 23rd Targa Florio could save himself only with difficulty from the enthusiasm of his compatriots. All six finishers were classified. The maximum time allowance was 1h30m after the first car had finished but did not have to be applied because all remaining cars had retired.



1.10Tazio NuvolariScuderia FerrariAlfa RomeoMonza2.3S-887h15m50.6s
2.6Mario U. BorzacchiniScuderia FerrariAlfa RomeoMonza2.3S-887h21m29.8s+ 5m39.2s
3.5Louis Chiron/A. VarziL. ChironBugattiT512.3S-887h35m20.6s+ 19m30.0s
4.13Pietro Ghersi/A. BrivioScuderia FerrariAlfa RomeoMonza2.3S-887h38m05.0s+ 22m14.4s
5.8Amedeo RuggeriOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati8C 28002.8S-887h50m16.4s+ 34m25.8s
6.3Silvio RondinaS. RondinaO.M.6652.2S-688h39m38.0s+ 1m23m47.4s
DNF14Emanuele de MariaE. de MariaFiat509 S1.1S-45clutch
DNF11Clemente BiondettiC. BiondettiMBSpeciale2.5S-83
DNF9Archimede RosaA. RosaBugattiT35B2.3S-83crash
DNF4Antonio BrivioScuderia FerrariAlfa RomeoMonza2.3S-83brakes seized
DNF12Achille VarziA. VarziBugattiT512.3S-41gearbox, oil loss
DNF2Carlo CazzanigaC. CazzanigaBugattiT37A1.5S-42fire
DNF1Guido D'IppolitoScuderia FerrariAlfa Romeo6C 1750 GS1.8S-62spring
DNF7Luigi FagioliOfficine A. MaseratiMaserati8C 28002.8S-81gear
DNF16Francesco SartorelliF. SartorelliBugattiT37A1.5S-40
Fastest lap: Tazio Nuvolari (Alfa Romeo) on lap 2 in 52m56.6s = 81.60 km/h (50.7 mph)
Winner's medium speed: 79.3 km/h (49.3 mph)
Weather: sunshine, extremely hot
In retrospect:
When Nuvolari arrived at the finish on the eighth lap, a colossal thunder of applause erupted. The hero of the 23rd Targa Florio could save himself only with difficulty from the enthusiasm of his compatriots. All six finishers were classified. The maximum time allowance was 1h30m after the first car had finished but did not have to be applied because all remaining cars had retired.


© 2015 Leif Snellman, Hans Etzrodt - Last updated: 12.09.2015