Yesterday was Enzo Ferrari’s birthday, so Ferrari decided to pay tribute to its founder by sharing various quotes, images and anecdotes about his life on their various social media pages. Enzo once said he was “a man who has lived an adventure,” which seems entirely modest for a man who founded the greatest race team of all time, so let’s recap Enzo’s wild ride from beginning to end.
Enzo was born on the outskirts of Modena, Italy on the 18th of February 1898, however doctors weren’t able to officially record his birth until two days later due to heavy snow. His passion for racing is instilled in him 10 years later, when his father took him and his brother to watch a race in Bologna, which is won by Felice Nazzaro.
By 1916 Enzo had fallen on hard times after both his father and brother pass away. He is forced to forego his studies in order to take a job as an instructor at the lathing school in Modena, however a year later he leaves to join the Italian army and serve in the First World War. After becoming severely ill and undergoing two operations, he is discharged from the service.
Enzo gets his break three years later when he’s hired to work as a test-driver and racing driver for Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali in Milan. He is later picked up by Alfa Romeo after finishing second in one of their cars in the Targa Florio, which marks the beginning of his 20-year relationship with the automaker.
By 1923 Enzo is a well-known name in the Italian racing world. He wins the first-ever Circuito del Savio and meets Countess Baracca, mother of the famous pilot Francesco Baracca, who encourages him to use her son’s famous prancing horse logo on his cars. He does just this as he continues racing with Alfa over the next five years.
In 1929 Enzo founded Scuderia Ferrari, which was intended to let team owners race their cars, but by 1933 the racing outfit had morphed into Alfa’s official race team. By this time Enzo had quit racing due to the impending birth of his son, Alfredo, and in 1938 was appointed head of the Alfa Corse racing division. In 1939 he leaves Alfa Romeo intent on beating the established team in one of his own cars.
Work on the first-ever Ferrari began in 1945 and by 1947 he was driving the car, known as the 125 S, on the road for the first time. His race team experiences almost immediate success and by 1952 Ferrari are Formula 1 World Champions. They repeat the result in 1953 and by the early 1960s the team had solidified themselves in F1 folklore.
In 1960 Enzo sells a 50% stake in Ferrari to Fiat in order to ensure the company’s long-term success. It experiences just this in both its racing and road car ventures for the next 28 years, until Enzo passes away at the age of 90 on August 14th, 1988.
Enzo once said: “I want to build a car that’s faster than all of them, and then I want to die.” So while his passing may have been sad, he accomplished his goal in life ten-fold, and would be happy to know that his race team is still very much alive and winning races to the delight of millions of fans globally.