Thursday 23rd December 1971
Alessandro Cagno (88), winner of the first Targa Florio, died. One of the toughest competitions in Europe, the first Targa Florio covered 3 laps equalling 277 miles through multiple hairpin curves on treacherous mountain roads in Sicily, at heights where severe changes in climate frequently occurred. Alessandro Cagno won the inaugural 1906 race in nine hours, averaging 30 mph.
He was apprenticed at 13 to a Turin engineering factory he was later recruited by Giovanni Agnelli as employee number 3 at F.I.A.T. (Fiat), where he progressed to be a test driver, Agnelli’s personal driver and works racing team driver. In 1906 he won the inaugural Targa Florio in Sicily after switching to the Itala team.
Cagno co-founded ‘AVIS-Voisin’ (Atelier Voisin Italie Septentrionale) to build Voisin aircraft under licence. He designed and tested aircraft, founded Italy’s first flying school in Pordenone, and was the first person to fly above Venice. After volunteering as a pilot for the Italo-Turkish War (1911-1912) in Libya he invented a bomb aiming device.