The Targa Florio and the Coppa Florio were two of the toughest and most difficult road races in Europe. Running on the extremely narrow and winding mountain roads of the so-called Madonie Circuit near Palermo on Sicily, one lap lasted 108 km long. Four laps were to drive for the Targa Florio, totaling 432 km. For the Coppa Florio, another lap was added, extending the race to a total of 540 km. In either race, entrants had to deal with a grueling circuit full of the dangers known as “7000 curves”. Whoever won the Targa Florio was not necessarily going to win the Coppa Florio, because the odds to negotiate the last lap successfully were not always very good.

Mercedes would dispatch three vehicles to this prestigious race event

On April 27, 1924, Mercedes entered three racing teams with the following pairings:

• Christian Werner with co-driver Karl Sailer, starting number 10
• Christian Lautenschlager with co-driver Wilhelm Traub, starting number 32
• Alfred Neubauer (later Mercedes-Benz race director) with co-driver Ernst Hemminger, starting number 23

Instead of wearing a white livery — the racing coulor of Germany, they were painted in a dark red finish — the racing color of Italy. This was intended as a camouflage to protect the Germans from the hot-tempered locals who didn‘t want any outlanish folks to win or prevail in the race and might throw stones to stops their cars.


Mercedes Targa Florio 1924