Two Old Friends in Sicily

Dan Gurney, Phil Hill, Targa Florio, klemcoll

Dan Gurney and Phil Hill, the latter with his faithful Leica to record the goings-on, stand next to one of three the Ferrari 250TR/59s that the Scuderia had brought to Sicily for the 1959 Targa Florio which would take place on May 24th. There had been some concern that the race might not take place due to the death in January of its founder Vicenzo Florio. But the Targa was too important to let die and the Florio family picked up the leadership of this last of the true open road races.

Olivier Gendebien would start the car he would share with Hill while Gurney would take the start for his co-driver Cliff Allison. The third TR59 would be shared by Jean Behra and Tony Brooks. The main competition for the Ferraris would be the three factory Porsche RSKs, backed up by an older 550RS and two Carrera coupes. The Porsche RSKs perhaps had some advantage as they would be able to avoid one refueling stop versus those of the Ferraris over the 1000 kilometer race distance.

The race itself turned out to be a total Porsche benefit, but even so they had their troubles, too. First, Gendebien came in with his Ferrari at the end of the first lap with terminal grinding noises coming from the differential. It was retired then and there. Before long, the Ferrari mechanics had more work to do as Behra arrived with a somewhat bent race car as he had rolled it into a field, got out from underneath and was helped by some locals to roll it back on its wheels. It seemed still serviceable, even though Brooks was probably less than thrilled by the necessity of getting into it. He added a thump to the front end but made it halfway around and stopped at the Ferrari depot at Polizi for temporary repairs to get back to the pits. But on his arrival there were now similar back axle noises and his car was retired. Gurney, however, had managed to lead the Porsches on total time for awhile until he, too, suffered from back axle failure, so all three Ferraris were out. Ferrari might have expected this result after one of their new TR59s retired with the same problem at Sebring. Edgar Barth and Wolfgang Seidel then took the win with their RSK, followed by the private 550RS, the rough road of the Targa having claimed the other two RSKs.

So Porsche sent Ferrari home with its proverbial tail between its legs and although Hill did not know it when the photo above was taken, photography would be his only activity at the Targa that year.

Photo by Edward Eves © The Klemantaski Collection –

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  1. Wonderful Image. I don’t think I have seen Dan with a bigger smile. And aren’t we glad Phil had that opportunity to use his Leica to compile his outstanding collection of photographs, one day to emerge as his magnificent tome to racing.


  2. · · Reply

    Phil and new boy Dan both California boys..and in their Sicilian Adventure.

    Both of them learning the course of 44 miles, but conditions so much like Southern California

    Canyons, and terrain.

    Seems to me Phil bagged a donkey on his debut in 58 and then in 59 had tire trouble in the race, but persevered to finish 4th.

    End of 1959 Gurney was the new discovery and every team wanted him, with BRM beeing the highest bidder,

    Jim sitz


    1. Jim,

      Phil was 4th in 1958, driving with Peter Collins. He was def in 59 and then second in 1960 with von Trips.



  3. · · Reply

    Phil and Dan winding their way around Sicily, with the terrain and roads so similar to Southern California, it seems they might have done better

    Year before Hill made his debut in Targa, but encountered tire problems and soldiered on to finish 4th.

    I believe he also bagged a Donkey in practice using the old Monza 750 car.

    Gurney was the sensation of 1959 and at seasons end, every team was after him, but BRM was his choice.

    When Behra rolled the Testa Rossa, Tony Brooks had some doubts on taking the wheel.!

    Jim sitz


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