Racing Demons

Racing Demons – Porsche and the Targa Florio

Michael Keyser – Mark Koense – Enzo Manzo

11 ½” x 11½” – 324 pages

277 Black & White and 226 Color Photographs


Click HERE to see and purchase a whimsical 9 3/4″ x 19″ cartoon depicting Porsche’s eleven victories at the Targa Florio.

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Product Description

Forever hailed as the world’s last true road race, the legendary Targa Florio in Sicily was first held in 1906 on a 148 km (92 mile) circuit that twisted and turned though the Madonie mountains east of Palermo, passing through a number of small, picturesque villages before running along the Mediterranean coast and back to the start/finish line. Each year, for one spectacular spring day, this tortuous course, laid out on the island at the toe of the boot of Italy, was the focus of the entire racing world.

There was simply nothing quite like racing exotic sports cars around narrow island roads lined with over half a million race crazy Italians who, together with Sicily’s spectacular backdrop and the circuit’s challenging characteristics, created the magical ambiance that made the Targa one of the most famous races in the sport’s history. And no other car won this grueling event more times than Porsche.

Racing Demons – Porsche and the Targa Florio for the first time brings together the many Porsches that raced in the Targa Florio, from the lone privately entered 356 Cabriolet that started the race in 1953, to the works Martini 911 RSR, which won the last ever Targa twenty years later, marking Porsche’s eleventh victory in Sicily.

At the wheel of the many legendary Porsches that were raced in the Targa during the span of two decades, were some of the top drivers of the 50s, ‘60s and ‘70s, such as Umberto Maglioli, Edgar Barth, Stirling Moss, Graham Hill, Jo Bonnier, Gerhard Mitter, Rolf Stommelen, Vic Elford, Brian Redman, Jo Siffert, Herbert Müller, and Gijs van Lennep.

This unique book contains more than 500 black and white and color photographs, many never published  before, including a number of images unearthed from the Porsche factory’s archive in Stuttgart, and a broad selection taken by photographers living in Sicily during the years the race was held. Each tells its own fascinating story.

Racing Demons – Porsche and the Targa Florio is the definitive story of one of the world’s greatest marques taking on one of the most challenging circuits of the twentieth century, and crossing its finish line first more times than any other manufacturer. Fasten your seat belts and hang on. You’ll enjoy the ride.


  1. If you weren’t already keen on the subject, you’ll be hooked by this book’s stunning opening shot, a full page of a Steyr on opposite lock scrabbling out of a ditch in the 1924 Targa Florio. It sets the tone: technically a history of Porsche on the legendary road race, this work is anything but blinkered, giving generous space to the German firm’s rivals. Author Keyser is well qualified: not only did he drive a 911 to 10th place in 1972, he also made a documentary film on the race, filming from another Porsche during practice.

    After a lavish history of Vincenzo Florio and his race, then a tour around the Piccolo Madonie, Keyser dives into 1953, Stuttgart’s first entry, and details each year from there to the race’s extinction. The text is entertaining and there is a run of striking Targa posters plus an index of all Porsche entries, but it’s the wonderful photos that grab you – Parkes dragging his deranged Dino 206 back to the pits, van Lennep sliding a 908/2 along the Armco like a Scalextric car, Redman giving a mechanic a lift with a huge fuel can. Costly, but captivating.

  2. “I find race histories that record lap-by-lap reports boring, so I wanted to produce a book that brought this legendary race alive,” says Michael Keyser, publisher and co-author of this vivid record of the epic Targa Florio. Although the subtitle indicates Porsches on the Sicilian classic as the focus of the title’s 324 pages, the spectacular range of historic photographs brilliantly captures the character of this wild road-race.

    As a Porsche entrant, who also filmed the Targa, Keyser provides an authentic perspective on the event and, teamed with Sicilian historian Enzo Manzo (see and Dutch enthusiast Mark Koense, has gathered a treasury of anecdotes, results and photos. Avoiding close cropping, the layout allows the images of the dramatic landscape and enthusiastic local spectators, not to mention the Targa’s unique racing perils, to really breath. Fun features include Roger Warrick’s cartoon-style map of the course, and a gallery of Porsche’s victory posters. Complementing the mighty Targa specialists from Stuttgart is a selection of key rivals through the years. So, settle down with a bottle of Cos Pithos, and immerse yourself in this wonderful publication.

  3. There can be few publishers who have raced in all of the blue-riband sportscar events, but Michael Keyser (sec Books, page -49) has competed at Le Mans, Sebring (winning there in 1976), Daytona, the Nurburgring, Monza and the Targa Florio. The Sicilian classic is a favorite of his, and the American teamed up with Jurgen Barth to finish 10th in 1972. “If Jurgen hadn’t smacked a wall, we’d have been fifth,” he recalls. “You had to put blinkers on about the parked cars and spectators, but out of the corner of your eye you couldn’t help spotting certain cheering fans jumping, up and down like matadors with flags. They were so close they could almost hand you a glass of wine.”

    Now that passion for Porsches and the Targa Florio has inspired a wonderful new photo book, Racing Demons. “I grew up in Italy, where my dad pushed me out on the streets, aged 13,” he says. “I learnt the language quickly-particularly the swear words. I wasn’t really interested in cars until my father sent me to the Porsche factory in 1966 to collect his 911. After driving it with a buddy all over Germany and Switzerland – getting drunk and chasing women – I got particularly attached to it. When Dad died, I inherited the car, but soon upgraded to an S.” A visit to Sebring inspired Keyser to get more involved, and after racing school the bug had really bitten: “While competing I started thinking ‘I’ve got to tell people what this is like’.” The result was the brilliant documentary, The Speed Merchants and, not surprisingly, the Targa experience features strongly.

    Long before getting behind the wheel in the pits at Cerda, the Targa was always fraught with obstacles, and 1972 was no different. Only in Sicily would the local firemen go on strike for a wage increase and force the postponement of practice: “The organizers spent days enlisting replacements from all over the island, and practice was just a shortened session on Saturday. We were already on tenterhooks because our posted entry had got lost, and it was ages before the FIA said that we could run. Training was special. There were always donkeys and sheep wandering around on the course.”

    Keyser’s problems were nothing compared to the Lloyd Adriatico equipe: “On Thursday morning, they discovered that their van, a fresh 911 S engine and spare wheels had been stolen from their garage in Santa Flavia. Two days later there was a rumor that a local’s engine-less 911 was now miraculously sitting in a barn with a new and extremely fast motor installed.”
    Italian Ennio Bonomelli had bigger issues because both of his team’s 911S vanished before practice. The press stated that it was an attempt to stop Bonomelli scoring points for the Italian cham¬pionship, but paddock rumors claimed that he’d had a dispute over the hill at a local restaurant and walked out without paying. A note in the empty garage stated that the Porsche would only be returned when the hill was settled.

    On occasions, making a film while also competing brought benefits for Keyser: “After practice Vic Elford agreed to talk us around the course with a camera mounted inside a road car. As we approached Bivio Caltavuturo, he warned me to be careful about a hump followed by a sharp lefthander. During the race I was chasing Klaus Rang’s 911 for about 3km. I was right on his ass as we reached the bump and I just remembered Vic’s advice as Klaus took off and went straight into the cornfield instead of turning left.”

    Even after the finish, the drama and tension continued for Keyser: “They impounded the race car and it looked like I’d miss the ferry. The only option was to drive up through Italy to the Ring. At the last minute they let us out and I had a crazy bumper-to-bumper chase with my girlfriend in our roadgoing 911 to the port. We just caught the boat.”

    The Targa was on borrowed time. Austrian Helmut Marko stated publicly that it was “totally insane” before producing a focused performance in his works Alfa Romeo Tipo 33, chasing down 1972 winner Arturo Merzario’s Ferrari 312P. The race would run just once more at international level, when Herbie Muller and Gijs van Lennep made it 11 victories for Stuttgart with a mean Martini-liveried 911 RSR.

    Of all the 911s, it is this incarnation that Keyser has the most affection for: “If they were set up right, you could throw them into any corner. I just heard that one of my old RSRs sold for $700k. I wish I’d bought five back then and put them away. That was a special car.

  4. It is difficult to imagine today that a race such as the Targa Florio ever existed: A complete lack of anything that could be construed as safety requirements, a demand¬ing and difficult circuit of public roads that was both a hill climb and flat out road course, mixed with a colorful population on an island of historical significance. For Porsche there was a time when participation at the Targa Florio was on par with the importance of that 24 hour race held every June in France. The fac¬tory devoted considerable time and money to prepare individual cars purely for competing in Sicily, and the effort paid off with eleven overall victories from 1956 through 1973. Keyser pays tribute to those achievements by including a gallery of all the posters issued by the factory.

    Like so many of the great races of the past century, the Targa Florio became a romantic memory. Most of the books covering the history of the race have long been out of print or are limited to release in Italian. Now thanks to the efforts of “Mr. Speed Merchant” himself, Michael Keyser, comes a massive and well documented volume on Porsche’s participation at the Targa. Keyser’s credentials are excellent for such an undertaking; he was a Targa Florio entrant and driver along with his background in media. Co author Enzo Manzo really displays his local knowledge and drives the text along as if fol¬lowing a map throughout each chapter. However, it comes down to Keyser’s photo selection, and based on pure visual enjoyment this book is a “must have,” and 917 aficionados will want a copy sim¬ply for the at long last visual evi¬dence that Piech did send a 917 coupe to run on the test day and which ended up demolished. This is destined to be one of those titles that reveals a new gem of Porsche’s history every time it is picked up. Racing Demons may well be the Porsche book of the year.

  5. This magnificent book covers one of the most celebrated and challenging road races in history. Held from 1906-1973, the Targa was both the first and last of the true open road, FIA international sports car championships.

    This book opens with a double-page, hand-illustrated map of the circuit which circled through the wild terrain of Sicily. What then follows is an entire history of the race. Over 500,000 cheering Italian fans would line the circuit in its heyday. For the first race, however, it was impossible to measure the crowd. The original 1906 race was won by Alessandro Cagno in an Italia, and he completed three laps on the 90-mile circuit among mountains, valleys, countryside and villages in 9 1/2 hours! For the final FIA International Championship in 1973, Gijs van Lennep and Herbert Muller logged 11 laps and 792 km in a Porsche RSR in a time of 6:54:19. In the period that Porsche competed, from 1953-1973, they won 11 times, with legendary drivers including Edgar Barth, Jo Bonnier, Willy Mairesse, Paul Hawkins, Vic Elford, Umberto Maglioli, Gerhard Mitter, Brian Redman and others.

    The book is one of those rarities – lavishly illustrated with photos of all the competing marques, extensive text, plus technical info that entertainingly presents the whole saga while also being a full documentary reference. A must read and must have.

  6. Two of the most magical words in motorsport’s lengthy lexicon of evocative terms are Targa and Florio. Put together as one they conjure visions, not only of a supremely challenging 44-mile race course twisting its way through the undulating Sicilian countryside, but also of a time when open road races were cherished and embraced as the ultimate rest of man and his machines.

    Among the most revered of those machines are the ones bearing the crest of Porsche, which have won the Targa Florio overall on 11 occasions, more than any other marque, while scoring 23 additional class wins as well. The Targa’s Piccolo Madonie circuit demanded precision, agility and power, qualities that have long been synonymous with Porsche.

    The authors begin with a biographical capsule of event creator Vincenzo Florio and his immediate family, tracing their efforts to bring their island to international attention. Vincenzo did it with a race that had its first running in 1906, yet this book chronicles only those in which Porsche competed, accompanying each report with abundant photography to illustrate just how unique an event the Targa Florio was. Completing the superb package is a gallery of event posters and a log of all Porsche entries in the Targa Florio.

  7. Limited to just 1,500 copies, “Racing Demons” is beautifully designed and printed and tells an excellent story of the early history of the “Targa” and then evolves very quickly into a year by year review of the race with the focus on Porsche’s efforts. The photography throughout is amazing, encompassing people, places, cars, race action and the top drivers of the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s who raced the legendary Targa Florio in Sicily. Worthy of a special place in any racing enthusiasts library.

  8. In the realm of free association, most of us tend to link Porsche’s racing legend mainly with Le Mans, and with good reason. But over the span of 20 years, Porsche notched 11 outright wins in the mad dash around Sicily known as the Targa Florio. This enormous (324 hardcover pages) volume is subtitled Porsche and the Targa Florio, and amply lives up to its mission of chronicling Stuttgart’s conquest of the Madonie circuit. The authors are Michael Keyser, a Targa vet and longtime Porsche racer famed for his book and film, The Speed Merchants, former FIA champion turned racing journalist Mark Koense, and Sicilian racing historian Dr. Enzo Manzo. When it comes to competition histories, Keyser’s works have always been among the very best. More than 500 photos illustrate this luscious, limited edition (1,500 copies only) retrospective.


Florio and the Targa – The Early Years

Map of the Piccolo Madonie

Piccolo Madonie – 44 Miles Around

37th Targa Florio – May 14, 1953

40th Targa Florio – June 10, 1956

42nd Targa Florio – May 11, 1958

43rd Targa Florio – May 24, 1959

44th Targa Florio – May 8, 1960

45th Targa Florio – April 30, 1961

46th Targa Florio – May 6, 1962

47th Targa Florio – May 5, 1963

48th Targa Florio – April 26, 1964

49th Targa Florio – May 9, 1965

50th Targa Florio – May 8, 1966

51st Targa Florio – May 14, 1967

52nd Targa Florio – May 5, 1968

53rd Targa Florio – May 4, 1969

54th Targa Florio – May 3, 1970

55th Targa Florio – May 16, 1971

56th Targa Florio – May 21, 1972

57th Targa Florio – May 13, 1973

Porsche Posters

For The Record

Photography Credits