Enzo Ferrari (left) and Ilario Bandini
|Born||February 20, 1898|
|Died||August 14, 1988 (aged 90)|
|Occupation||Head of Ferrari|
Enzo Anselmo "the Commendatore" Ferrari (February 20, 1898 – August 14, 1988) Cavaliere di Gran Croce OMRI was an Italian race car driver and entrepreneur, the founder of the Scuderia Ferrari Grand Prix motor racing team, and subsequently of the Ferrari car manufacturer.
- For a history of the racing team, see Scuderia Ferrari
Born in Modena, Enzo Ferrari grew up with little formal education but a strong desire to race cars. During World War I he was a mule-shoer in the Italian Army. His father, Alfredo, died in 1916 as a result of a widespread Italian flu outbreak. Ferrari became sick himself and was consequently discharged from Italian service. Upon returning home he found that the family firm had collapsed. Having no other job prospects he sought unsuccessfully to find work at FIAT and eventually settled for a job at a smaller car company called CMN (Costruzioni Maccaniche Nazionali) redesigning used truck bodies into small passenger cars. He took up racing in 1919 on the CMN team, but had little initial success.
He left CMN in 1920 to work at Alfa Romeo and racing their cars in local races he had 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 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. In 1924 he 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 the birth of his first son in 1932 (Alfredo Ferrari, known as Dino, who died in 1956 of muscular dystrophy).
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 Two cars. The company also sold production sports cars in order to finance the racing endeavours not only in Grand 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. 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 of Fiat 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 backstraight 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.
Enzo Ferrari died on August 14 1988 in Modena at the age of 90. His death wasn't made public until two days later, as by Enzo's request, to compensate late registration of his birth. He died at the beginning of the dominance of the McLaren Honda combination. The only race which McLaren did not win in 1988 was the Italian Grand Prix. It was held just weeks after Ferrari's death, and, fittingly, the result was a 1-2 finish for Ferrari, with Gerhard Berger leading home Michele Alboreto. After Ferrari's death, the Scuderia Ferrari team has had further success, notably with Michael Schumacher, Kimi Räikkönen, Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa from 1996 onwards. He witnessed the launch of one of the greatest road cars Ferrari F40 shortly before his death, which was dedicated as a symbol of his achievements. In 2003 the first car to be named after him was launched in the Enzo Ferrari.
Made a Cavaliere del Lavoro in 1952, to add to his honours of Cavaliere and Commendatore in the 1920s, Ferrari also received a number of honorary degrees, the Hammarskjöld Prize in 1962, the Columbus Prize in 1965, and the De Gasperi Award in 1987. In 1994, he was posthumously inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
- Ferrari, Enzo (1964). My terrible joys: The Enzo Ferrari memoirs. Macmillan Publishing.
- Ferrari, Enzo (1985). Piloti, che gente.... Conti Editore.
- Laban, Brian (2002). The Ultimate History of Ferrari. Parragon Publishing.
- Schleifer, Jay (1992). Cool Classics: Ferrari. Macmillan Publishing.
- Yates, Brock (1991). Enzo Ferrari: The Man, the Cars, the Races, the Machine. Doubleday.