Enzo Anselmo Ferrari was born on February 18th, 1898 in Modena, Italy. At age 16 he joined the Italian Army and fought on the front lines of WWI. In 1916, his father and brother died as a result of the Italian Influenza. Two years later, he caught the flu pandemic (a disease throughout an entire country) and was very sick and discharged from the Italian Army. In 1918, as a result of being unemployed, he found a job at a company called CMN. CMN took old WWI trucks and converted them into small passenger cars. In 1920, he left CMN to work at Alfa Romeo in Turin, Italy.
In 1923, he started racing for Alfa Romeo, where he won his first race and met Count and Countess Baracca, the parents of the Italian ace pilot Francesco Baracca. Countess Baracca allowed Enzo to use the prancing horse logo. Which, unless you have lived in a cave for the last 30 years, is known as the Ferrari logo. It is also the coat of arms of Stuttgart, Germany. He started racing as an official driver for Alfa Romeo. His first major accident happened in 1921, when on the eve of the Brescia Grand Prix, he swerved to avoid a herd of cattle blocking the race route and went off the side of the road.
In 1927 he started Scuderia, a racing company that tuned mostly Alfa Romeo’s and motorcycles and was very successful. In 1928 he was made a Cavaliere, which is the Italian word for Knight.
In 1931, he finished his last race because of the impending birth of his son Alfredo. He finished second place in his last race. In 1933 he took the post of head of Alfa Corse (the racing division of Alfa Romeo) and held the post until 1939. He moved to Maranello, Italy to have a new factory for Scuderia and to have a newer house.
In 1941, he moved Scuderia to Milan, Italy as a result of the wartime fear of getting bombed. In 1943, he started Auto Avio Costruzioni. Later in the year, he moved Auto Avio Cotruzioni to Modena, Italy which was the old headquarters of Scuderia.
In 1944, the factory in Milan was bombed, rebuilt and believe it or not, bombed two weeks later. To most people that would be a serious bummer, but Enzo never really was sad about that. He always helped out in rebuilding it, and always used his own money that he was saving for retirement to rebuild the factory.
In September 1945, he started designing the first production Ferrari. He had started a new company again so he could beat Alfa Romeo in everything. He wanted the car built with a V12. Why a V12? Because it could be a good engine for winning races and be good for a supercar and for grand-touring. In 1946, Enzo himself took the first road going Ferrari prototype out for a test drive on the roads of Italy, where it was a head turner for the peasants.
In 1956, Enzo’s son, Alfredo died of muscular dystrophy. Alfredo was involved in designing a new 1500 CC V6 until the very end of his life. Alfredo was better known as Dino. All Ferrari V6 engines have been named “Dino”. It is not pronounced like Dinosaur, but Deeno.
In 1962, he was awarded the Hammarsjkld Prize by the United Nations for his business and mechanics knowledge. In 1965 he was awarded the Columbus Prize.
In 1971, he dedicated the Fiorano Test Track at the factory in Italy, to test new Ferrari’s.
In 1979, he was awarded the title of Cavaliere di Gran Croce della Repubblica di Italiana (try saying that 3 times fast, if you do, then leave a post!) from President Percini.
In 1987, the last car to go out under Enzo’s leadership of Ferrari was the F40. He had both design and mechanical influence over it.
In 1988, Enzo Ferrari died at age 90. He inspired a legacy of Supercars and Grand Touring cars that have set a standard for years, hopefully for years to come. In 2003, Ferrari unveiled a car in memory of Enzo. It was called the Enzo Ferrari. Sound similar to anybody?
Enzo Ferrari was a man of great compassion for his race car drivers. When his driver Nicki Lauda suffered nearly fatal burns at the 24 hours of Le Mans, he was in Lauda’s hospital room for days comforting him while he healed. Enzo also cared about the quality of his cars. He would be very upset if a Ferrari was not made right, and he would be in a rage for days until the car was fixed. Enzo Ferrari was a man of great compassion for people he knew, and loved his cars.