Childhood & Early Life
Enzo Ferrari was born in on 18 February 1898 in the small town of Modena, Italy. He was born to a manufacturer called Alfredo Ferrari and grew up in Modena without any formal education.
He had a passion for race cars and race car driving since a very early age in his life and decided that he wanted to be a racing driver at the tender age of 10, when his father took him to see the 1908 Circuit di Bologna. He went to many other race car competitions after this and these competitions left a very strong impression on his mind.
In 1914, Ferrari started working as a teacher at the Lathe Operator School in the Modena fire brigade’s workshop.
During the WWI, in 1916, both his father and brother died due to the outbreak of the Italian flu. Around the same time he was called to join the war and was assigned to the Third Alpine Regiment, Val Seriana. He contracted the 1918 flu pandemic, which led to his discharge during the end of the war.
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Upon getting a letter of recommendation from the military authorities, Ferrari applied for a job with Fiat in 1918. Unfortunately there were no vacancies there at the time. But, he got a job as a test driver, in Turin, in a motor company that changed light trucks into chassis, collaborating with an Italo-Argentinian body shop in Milan.
In 1919, Enzo started working with a company called Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali, in Milan, as a test driver. But soon he was promoted to the post of a racing driver.
In the same year, he drove his first race in the Parma-Poggio di Berceto uphill race. He stood at the 4th position in the race. He participated in another race in the same year, the Targa Florio race but could not really achieve any great success in that too because of a problem with the fuel tank.
In 1920, he participated in the Targa Florio car race yet again, drove an Alfa Romeo, and stood at the second position. This win was the beginning of his 20-year experience with Alfa Romeo where he first worked as a test driver, then racing driver, then sales staff member and ultimately the head of Alfa-Corse team.
In 1921, Ferrari took part in many races as an exclusive Alfa driver. He also met with his first accident in the same year during the Brescia Grand Prix when he staggered off the road in order to save a herd of cows crossing the route.
In 1923, he met with the Count Baracca, Francesco Baracca and Countess Baracca, on the occasion of winning his first Savio Circuit. He was gifted a photo with a dedication and was encouraged to freely use their “Prancing Horse” as a mascot on his racing cars.
In 1929, he formed the Scuderia Ferrari Grand Prix racing team, and it was the racing team for Alfa Romeo.
1931 was Ferrari’s last year as a racing driver. His last race was at the Three Provinces circuit where he came second, driving an Alfa Romeo 8C 2300 MM. Because of his increasing family and other professional commitments, he abandoned racing in this year.
In 1933, due to financial constraints, Alfa stopped its association with Scuderia Ferrai. Alfa took control of its racing efforts in 1937 once again, and Ferrari was reduced to mere Director of Sports.
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In 1939, Ferrari left Alfa Romeo, agreeing on the terms that he will not use the name ‘Ferrari’ in relation to racing and racing cars for next four years. In the same year, he founded his own company called Auto Avio Costruzioni, Modena, in a garage in Viale Trento e Trieste.
In 1940, he built cars for Mille Miglia in the main quarters of the old Scuderia. Around this time, during WWII Ferrari’s firm was forced to produce for Mussolini’s Fascist Government.
In 1951, Ferrari’s firm won its first Grand Prix with Jose Froilan Gonzalez at Silverstone. Company’s first championship was earned in 1952-53. This was the time when the company also started selling sports car in order to finance its racing events.
In 1957, Ferrari and Englebert, the tyre manufacturer, were charged with manslaughter when during Mille Miglia, Alfonso de Portago, driving Ferrari, died along with his co-driver when one of the tires blew. Nine people out of the audience were also killed. The prosecution was dismissed in 1961.
In 1969, Ferrari sold 50% of its shares to Fiat but Enzo Ferrari remained 100% in control of the racing endeavors. This offer was first made to Ford but Ferrari did not go forward with it, knowing that he would not be able to remain in control of the important decisions if he will involve Ford with his company.
In 1974, Ferrari retired from the position of managing director of the road car division’s position. He then nominated Luca Cordero di Montezemolo as the Formula one team manager and asked him to represent him at all the race meetings.
In 1982, Ferrari made sturdy cars and chose world-class drivers. Although Ferrari remained involved with Scuderia until his death but there were not anymore championships for Ferrari.
Awards & Achievements
In 1924, Ferrari was recognized by the state as a ‘Cavaliere’ for his valuable contribution to the field of sports and in 1925 he was made a ‘Cavaliere Ufficiale’. In the same year he founded ‘Corriere dello Sport’ in Bologna, catering to his passion for sports journalism.
In 1927, he was awarded the title of ‘Commendatore’ for his contribution in sports in Italy.
In 1952, Ferrari was awarded with the title of ‘Cavaliere del Lavoro’ for his contribution to the car industry, helping to enhance the image of Italy in the world.
Ferrari was a recluse and hardly made any public appearances or gave any interviews. He was also known to be a workaholic.
Once when his driver, Nicki Lauda, injured himself during a race, Ferrari stayed alongside Lauda in order to comfort him.
Ferrari did not get a job with Fiat on the account that Ferrari was not sufficiently talented for the work in car mechanics.
It is believed that Ferrari used to induce competition between his drivers and used to encourage them to be at the position of number one driver.