Enzo Anselmo Ferrari (February 18, 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. He was often referred to as "il Commendatore"
Born in Modena, Enzo Ferrari grew up with little formal education but a strong desire to race cars. During World War I he was assigned to the 3rd Alpine Artillery division of the Italian Army. His father Alfredo, as well as his older brother, also named Alfredo, died in 1916 as a result of a widespread Italian flu outbreak. Ferrari became severely ill himself in the 1918 flu pandemic and was consequently discharged from Italian service. Upon returning home he found that the family firm had collapsed.
Having no other job prospects, he eventually settled for a job at a smaller car company called CMN (Costruzioni Meccaniche 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 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.
Full article ▸