This photo shows the famous Piero Taruffi in front of the Lancia factory in Turin in a Scuderia Lancia D24 prior to taking this car to the 1954 Giro di Sicilia (called the Tour of Sicily in English) which took place on April 4th and which Taruffi would win with Carlo Luoni, most likely a Lancia mechanic, as his passenger.
The Giro was, in effect, a kind of super Targa Florio which started and finished in Palermo while covering a lap of the entire island, resulting in a race length of approximately 671 miles. It preceded the more important Mille Miglia and was often used as a sort of warm-up for the longer race around Italy. Like the Mille Miglia, the Giro was open to various types of Touring cars, GT cars and Sports cars, divided into engine capacity classes. The course had only one significant straight and there were reputedly over 11,000 corners. Like the Historic Mille Miglia, the Giro continues today as a vintage car rally.
The Lancia D24 was a relatively sophisticated car for the early 1950s. Although it used a transverse front spring and a De Dion type rear suspension, similar to the Ferrari sports racers of those years, the motor was a V6 with four camshafts with a displacement of 3.3 liters and about 250 hp. The clutch was in unit with the rear-mounted transaxle assembly. The D24 was nowhere near as fast as the Ferrari 375 Plus, its main competition in 1954, but was rather more agile, a useful advantage on the Giro course. None of these excellent Lancias survive today, although a replica or two have been built using some components left over at Lancia. The car Taruffi is in above is n. 0005, a rebuilt car that had been created from the remains of D24 n. 0002 which had been heavily damaged in the fatal crash of Felice Bonetto during the 1953 Carrera Panamericana Mexico.
Piero Taruffi, no longer a young driver, was 48 years old in 1954. He had started by racing motorcycles in the early 1930s and quickly moved on to automobiles. He is best known today as the last winner of the Mille Miglia in 1957, after which he sensibly retired. He was also the author of a famous “how to” book about the sport titled The Technique of Motor Racing. He died in 1988 in his home town of Viterbo, not far north of Rome, along the route of the Mille Miglia.
Photo by Yves Debraine. ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com
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