With myriad private museums spanning the nation, there is a strong passion for the elegance and design of cars “from another time”.
That said, Luca Bottallo from iSteem explains to us how one of Italy’s most prestigious car races will have an “Australian tribute”.
The Targa Florio, a rally which has been held in Sicily more than 60 times since the first edition in 1906, will come to Victoria this week, marking the first time ever that the race extends beyond Italy’s borders.
Following months of negotiations and hard work, motors are warming up for an event which promises to return in the future, as a five-year contract has been signed with the Automobile Club of Italy (ACI) in Palermo, which owns the brand.
Running from November 29 to December 3, the Targa Florio Australian Tribute won’t be an exact replica of the Sicilian race, but it will maintain the same technical elements and rules of a “regularity race”.
The ability of the driver and navigator isn’t demonstrated with speed, but with control over the speedometer and respect of the local road rules.
The race is for classic cars produced between 1907 and 1976, while the course will be thousands of kilometres long and comprise four stages across Victoria’s countryside.
Aside from the race between classic and rare models of Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Bugatti, Porsche and many other brands, Ferraris made from 1977 onwards will participate in a second race, the Ferrari Trophy, following the exact same course.
The event will feature more than 150 of the world’s most admirable cars, including 15 from the Gosford Classic Car Museum in New South Wales, and others from Asia, the US and Italy.
Two Italian champions will race, and Mr Bottallo affirms that they’re “coming to win”.
They are four-time champion of the Mille Miglia classic car race, Giordano Mozzi, accompanied by his wife Stefania Biacca, and 74-year-old former Formula One driver, Arturo Merzario.
Both men will drive Australian cars.
Scrutineering will be held at The Docklands on November 29, allowing the judges the opportunity to inspect all vehicles.
The race will take drivers through six picturesque Victorian regions, including Gippsland, the Yarra Valley and the Dandenong Ranges, Phillip Island, the Mornington Peninsula, Geelong and the Bellarine, and the Great Ocean Road.
An official lunch and awards ceremony will take place at The Docklands on the final day, with all cars on display and access open to the general public to view the vehicles.
“It’s not just about the motors, but also the style, modernity and prestige of Ferrari on the one hand, and the class, engineering and passion for classic cars on the other,” Mr Bottallo says.
These elements, combined with Victoria’s stunning scenery, makes the event a must for car enthusiasts and one with potential to grow while putting regional Victoria on the map.