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Enzo Ferrari













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. . . a Ferrari has a body, an engine and four wheels. But it is more than just a car--it is a work of art . . . Many people paint, but not all painters are like Picasso. Many people sing, but few can sing like Caruso. Many manufacturers make cars, but only one makes Ferraris.1
During the late 1800s and early 1900s a fledgling racing industry was born with the invention of the automobile. A great man and his company would emerge from this industry and dominate it. This man was Enzo Ferrari, an automobile and business genius whose company is famous for its high performance automobiles, formula one cars, and top of the line drivers. His success wasnt instant, but was the result of years of racing experience, sheer toughness as a businessman, and a passion that would make his company a world renown racing icon.
Enzo Ferrari was born in Modena, Italy, on February 18, 1898.2 At the time, Modena was a rustic little village in the foothills of the Apeninne Mountains. His family was well off because of his fathers steel business.
Enzo Ferrari had a dislike for school, intensified by his parents wanting him to become an engineer. As a young man it is said that he had three great ambitions- to be either an opera singer, a sports journalist, and a race car driver. He lacked talent for the first, never applied himself for the second, but the third was what drove his life.3
His fascination with cars was influenced by his fathers purchase of a car, one of the first in Modena. Ferrari grew up around cars, his fathers car came with its own mechanic. Young Ferrari took interest in this rather than his school work. When Ferrari was ten, his father took him and his brother to go see an automobile race in Bologna where the great drivers, Vincenzo Lancia and Felice Nazarro, raced in the 1908 Circuit de Bologna.4 The dramatic appearance of Lancia and Nazarro made an impression on the small boy. They raced their giant, red Fiats around the track. Nazarro and Lancia, two young, famous superstars, were there to face off against one another in a race for first place. All the local celebrates were present in the massive crowd to watch Nazzaro win the early motor racing event. This sparked the fire that would drive Ferrari to become a great racing legend. At age 15, he already knew he wanted to be a race car driver.
Before he could pursue his career, Ferrari was drafted into the war in 1917.5 After the war, Ferrari needed to find work. Ferrari headed to FIAT, but was turned down, leaving him to use his fathers inheritance until he could find another job. Eventually, he landed a job as a driver. He drove unfinished cars to a body shop where the car would be completed. He did this until through a friend, Ugo Sivocci, he became chief driver for Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali (CMN). As chief test driver, he drove the latest and greatest cars CMN produced. He began racing about this time when he was 21 years old. Racing exploded in popularity in the 1920s. Ferraris first race was the Parma Poggio di Berceto Hill Climb, a time trial up the foothills of the Apennines. On the accent, Ferrari had little trouble navigating the relatively straight roads. On the decent was a set of hairpin turns with gutters in the road and unguarded rock walls. He muscled his CMN from 200 ft. to 2700 ft. above sea level in 50 minutes and 13.2 seconds, resulting in twelfth overall, and fifth in the three-liter class.6 Ferrari was pleased with himself and looked to improve in future races.
In those days, even local hill climbs presented an enormous challenge, the most fearsome being the Targo Florio. Even when years later, the course was cut in half again, it was still terrifying. There were no guard rails, the road was uneven and the turns were perilous. At any moment a peasant on a bicycle, wobbling along the road with a load of hay on his back, might wander into the road, thus potentially injuring or killing both the pedestrian, and/or the driver. Just reaching the event was a major task in itself. As they passed through the Abruzzi mountains, Ferrari says, We found ourselves in a blizzard, and were chased by wolves. They were put to flight however, by shots from the revolver I always kept under the seat cushion, and by the arrival of a group of road gangsters armed with torches and guns.There were risks to these racing competitiions other than losing to your opponent.
In 1920, his friend, George Riminni, gave him a job as a junior member on the Alfa Romeo racing team. This meant he would be competing with some of the finest drivers in Italy. He competed in the 1920 Targo Florio, racing an Alfa Romeo, and finished in second place. In 1923, Ferrari won races at the Circuit of Sivocci at Ravenna, and in 1924, he won the Coppa Acerbo, his greatest win captured so far.7 He preformed well enough in these events to qualify for more prestigous races.
He was promoted to full factory driver at Alfa Romeo and was expected to race the newest cars at that years most prestigious race, the French Grand Prix. But after the first practice lap, he became ill and apparently suffered an emotional breakdown and could not race.8 He had blown one of the biggest chances for moving ahead in his racing career.
Enzo had a lot of pressure on him at the time of his expected Grand Prix. This could have led to the emotional breakdown. There was pressure from his wife, Laura, to focus on domestic issues, not just racing. Enzo never gave a complete description or went into detail about this breakdown. He temporarily withdrew from racing. After this incident, Ferrari recognized that he would be better off managing a team, rather than racing for one. He was a good driver, but not the best.
Ferrari maintained his relationship with Alfa Romeo, eventually becoming Alfa Romeos off-site racing department. Ferrari helped pioneer the idea of sponsorship. The team was sponsored by Bosch, Pirelli, Shell, and the Caniano brothers, heirs to a local textile fortune. Sponsorships were important to the team because it meant discounts on materials, tires, spark plugs, gasoline, etc. Sponsorships were also a way for the companies providing the materials to advertise their product.
When searching for talent, Ferrari looked for daring, young men, who usually raced as a hobby. When there was noticeable talent, he would seek the driver out, and offer him a contract right on the spot, usually with incentives. In the first year, Ferrari managed to hire an impressive 50 drivers.9 Ferrari enlisted his drivers in the races that would win the company the most notoriety. With prestigious races like the Le Mans 24 Hour and the Targo Florio, he gained recognition. Above all, he wanted to design his own race cars instead of having to modify the ones he got from Alfa Romeo.
In 1929, Ferrari proposed creating his own racing firm, Scuderia Ferrari. (team Ferrari).10 Ferrari bought an Alfa Romeo dealership which was a step toward owning his own company. He continued to modify Alfa Romeos vehicles for races. The cars themselves were produced by Alfa Romeo, but drastically enhanced for racing by Scuderia Ferrari. He made Alfa Romeo famous.
With fame came money and a demand for his cars. Ferrari wanted to keep pressing forward with modified cars. He wanted to be distinguished by putting his own prancing horse emblem on the cars instead of Alfa Romeos snake emblem. The prancing horse came about because of WWI when Ferrari was at a race in Alfas, WWI flying ace Francesco Baraccas mother, Countess Baracca, told Ferrari that the emblem on the side of her sons plane was a prancing horse and that if he put it in his logo, it would bring him good luck. He did and it did.11 This gave a sense of pride to Scuderia Ferrari.
Alfa Romeo wasnt pleased with Ferraris growing fame and sent their own engineering director to manage Enzo Ferraris company. Enzo was furious and quit, leaving Scuderia Ferrari to Alfa Romeo. Due to contract limitations, he couldnt build anything under his own name for the next four years.
After leaving Alfa Romeo, he started his newest company, the Auto-Avio Construzioni (AAC) in Modena, since this didnt violate his contract. He immediately hired 40 workers and was approached by some of his old customers to build cars for them. Shortly after, AAC produced two of the first Ferrari race cars. These two cars were successful not because of the use of the latest advances in aerodynamics and science but, through brute power. They were entered in the 1940 Mille Milgila. Even though the competition was stiff, they made a lasting impression on the crowd.12 His new found business was a success.
During WWII, Alfa Romeo was ordered by Benito Mussolini to produce only war vehicles for Hitlers army which crippled their racing efforts. This gave Ferraris small company a head start in auto racing when the war ended. Where other companies had to regroup teams and had to redesign their old cars, Ferrari had been able to remain focused on racing-related efforts. After the war ended, new technologies were available, and the racing industry boomed once again.One step ahead, he designed and built his own grand prix car and entered it in the prestigious 1947 Manaco Grand Prix which was unsuccessful but satisfying.13 The companys first great victory was not until the British Grand Prix in 1951.14 The rest of the world wanted a little piece of this great company and orders for sleek, fast cars arrived at his door.
The cars Ferrair first produced were sporty models with a touch of luxury. Ferraris are a blend of art, science, and power. A ferrari fulfills ones love for speed. The only other automotive manufacturer said to have come closest to matching Ferraris excellence is Porsche. The idolization of movie stars driving their bright red Ferraris boosted their popularity. Ferrari wanted his cars noticeable and distinct.
Enzo Ferrari lived through some of the worlds most significant times. He also helped shape the racing and automotive world as we know it today. When I thought about Enzo Ferrari, I thought stereotypical automotive success. Somewhat like Henry Ford. But building and maintaining a fledgling company during WWI and WWII was not an easy task. I think Ferrari is a kind of hidden importance to history, but a big importance to automobile racing. His company now produces very high quality machines, artwork, a toy for your right foot. Ferraris should be a sign of quality and performance for years to come.
The present day Ferrari corperation is still a symbol of performance and beauty. Theyre one of the most desireable vehicles for car enthusiasts. Hand built in Modena insures quality as well as a long waiting list. To believe that one man created all this from scratch is hardly believeable, but Enzo Ferrari pulled it off. He started with bearly a racing career and ended up with a massive auto manufacture. All fueled by his love of racing. anything, anything you can think of. His cars were featured in movies such as Grand Prix, produced by John Frankenheimer. The popularization of Ferraris with movie starz has made them even more popular. Heres a quote from the movie: -What is it?... Its a Ferrari. Does it run? Does it run! She won the Grand Prix last year. I bought it from Simonellis window. Paid her a hundred quid for it. What are oyu going to do with it?... Race it of course... Exchange between Moira (Ava Gardner) and Julian (Fred Astaire), From On The Beach (dir. Stanley Kramer, 1958)
















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