Enzo Ferrari  Italy

  • Full name Enzo Anselmo Ferrari
  • Birth date February 20, 1898
  • Birthplace Modena, Italy
  • Date of death August 14, 1988 (90 years 176 days)
  • Place of death Modena, Italy
  • Teams Ferrari
  • Other roles Team Owner
driver portrait
Profile

Enzo Ferrari is a legend of the motor industry in general as well as Formula One in particular, the founder of the Scuderia Ferrari Grand Prix motor racing team, and subsequently of the Ferrari car manufacturer.

Born in Modena, Enzo Ferrari grew up with little formal education but a strong desire to race cars. He served in the Italian army in World War One but was discharged in 1918 when he became seriously ill with influenza. He returned home to find his father dead and the family firm collapsed.

He took a job redesigning used truck bodies into cars and in 1919 took up racing for the CMN team before switching to Alfa Romeo in 1920, and with it he enjoyed more success. In 1923, racing in Ravenna, he acquired the Prancing Horse badge which decorated the fuselage of Francesco Baracca's (Italy's leading ace of WWI) SPAD S.XIII fighter, given from his mother, taken from the wreckage of the plane after his mysterious death. This icon would have to wait until 1932 to be displayed on a racing car.

As Ferry Porsche stated in his autobiography Mein Leben, the Prancing Horse is, in fact, the coat of arms of the city of Stuttgart. It is not from a German plane Baracca shot down - it was emblazoned on his aircraft in tribute to his past cavalry unit, and later presented to Ferrari by Baracca's family.

In 1924 Ferrari won the Coppa Acerbo at Pescara. His successes in local races encouraged Alfa to offer him a chance of much more prestigious competition. Ferrari turned this opportunity down and did not race again until 1927. He continued to work directly for Alfa Romeo until 1929 before starting Scuderia Ferrari as the racing team for Alfa.

Ferrari managed the development of the factory Alfa cars, and built up a team of over forty drivers, including Giuseppe Campari and Tazio Nuvolari. Ferrari himself continued racing until 1932.

The support of Alfa Romeo lasted until 1933 when financial constraints made Alfa withdraw. Only at the intervention of Pirelli did Ferrari receive any cars at all. Despite the quality of the Scuderia drivers the company won few victories (1935 in Germany by Nuvolari was a notable exception). Auto Union and Mercedes dominated the era.

In 1937 Alfa took control of its racing efforts again and again, reducing Ferrari to Director of Sports under Alfa's engineering director. Ferrari soon left, but a contract clause restricted him from racing or designing for four years.

He set up Auto-Avio Costruzioni, a company supplying parts to other racing teams. But in the Mille Miglia of 1940 the company manufactured two cars to compete, driven by Alberto Ascari and Lotario Rangoni. During World War II his firm was involved in war production and following bombing relocated from Modena to Maranello. It was not until after World War II that Ferrari sought to shed his fascist reputation and make cars bearing his name, founding today's Ferrari S.p.A. in 1947.

The first open-wheeled race was in Turin in 1948 and the first victory came later in the year in Lago di Garda. Ferrari participated in the Formula 1 World Championship since its introduction in 1950 but the first victory was not until the British Grand Prix of 1951. The first championship came in 1952-53, when the Formula One season was raced with Formula Twocars. The company also sold production sports cars in order to finance the racing endeavours not only in Grands Prix but also in events such as the Mille Miglia and Le Mans. Indeed many of the firm's greatest victories came at Le Mans (14 victories, including six in a row 1960-65) rather than in Grand Prix. Certainly the company was more involved there than in Formula One during the 1950s and 1960s despite the successes of Juan-Manuel Fangio (1956), Mike Hawthorn (1958), Phil Hill (1961) and John Surtees (1964).

In the 1960s the problems of reduced demand and inadequate financing forced Ferrari to allow Fiat to take a stake in the company. Ferrari had offered Ford the opportunity to buy the firm in 1963 for US$18 million but, late in negotiations, Ferrari withdrew. This decision triggered the Ford Motor Company's decision to launch a serious European sports car racing program, which resulted into the Ford GT40. The company became joint-stock and Fiat took a small share in 1965 and then in 1969 they increased their holding to 50% of the company. (In 1988 Fiat's holding was increased to 90%).

Ferrari remained managing director until 1971. Despite stepping down he remained an influence over the firm until his death. The input ofFiat took some time to have effect. It was not until 1975 with Niki Lauda that the firm won any championships -- the skill of the driver and the ability of the engine overcoming the deficiencies of the chassis and aerodynamics. But after those successes and the promise of Jody Scheckter title in 1979, the company's Formula One championship hopes fell into the doldrums. 1982 opened with a strong car, the 126C2, world-class drivers, and promising results in the early races.

However, Gilles Villeneuve was killed in the 126C2 in May, and teammate Didier Pironi had his career cut short in a violent end over end flip on the misty back straight at Hockenheim in August. Pironi was leading the driver's championship at the time; he would lose the lead as he sat out the remaining races. The team would not see championship glory again during Ferrari's lifetime.

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January 1, 1975

Enzo Ferrari during a Goodyear and Ferrari press conference

September 11, 1959

Enzo Ferrari chats with Belgian driver Olivier Gendebien ahead of practice

     

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