Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Rise of the Ferrari

The Rise of the Ferrari

When asked to name a supercar who wouldn't have Ferrari on the tip of their tongue. What young boy didn't have pictures of shiny red Ferraris on their bedroom wall? But where did the famous brand of Ferrari come from and who is the man behind the legend?

Enzo Ferrari was born in Modena, Italy, on 18th February 1898. His family owned a foundry and Enzo shared a room above the workshop with his brother Alfredo, waking to the sound of hammering when work started in the mornings.

The young Enzo saw his first car race in 1908 with his father. The whole environment of the shouting crowds and the brave drivers aroused his interest.

Enzo was forced to leave school after the death of his father, going on to work in the Modeno Fire Brigade's workshop as a turning instructor. After a spell in the army (which he joined in 1917), Enzo was released from duty because of ill health. Instead of returning to schooling, Enzo found work as a test driver in Turin in 1918, later moving to Milan to work as a racing driver for automaker Construzioni Meccaniche Nazionale. The first proper race that Enzo entered was the Parma-Berceto in 1919. After that there was no looking back.

Enzo founded Scuderia Ferrari in 1929. They sponsored and trained Alfa Romeo staff. He was head of racing at Alfa Romeo until he heard that they planned to take over Scuderia Ferrari - prompting him to leave. After that he was prohibited from competing for a few years so the factory produced machine tools and aircraft accessories, although they did manage to make the Tipo 815 racing car during that time.

The emblem of Ferrari (the prancing horse) was adopted by Ferrari in 1923. At the Savio track in Ravenna after a race win, Enzo met the mother of Baracca, an Italian air force ace and national hero who was shot down at a young age. Baracca had a black horse as an emblem on his planes because his squad was enrolled in a cavalry regiment. The countess asked him to use the emblem for good luck. Enzo kept the black horse as it was on the plane but added a yellow background - a symbolic colour of Modena.

Ferrari moved to Maranello in 1943. The factory had to be rebuilt in 1946 after bomb damage from World War Two. The first Ferrari road car was built in 1947 - the 125 Sport. It was a high performance car with a V12 engine. They entered Formula One racing in 1950.

The last car commissioned by Enzo was the famous F40 which was revealed on the 40th birthday of the company.

Enzo Ferrari died on 14th August 1988 in Modena.

Ferrari today can claim 15 F1 drivers' titles, 16 F1 constructors titles, 203 F1 pole postitions and 209 F1 wins to name but a few. They attract top drivers and are legendary in the field of Formula One. Michael Schumacher driving for Ferrari dominated F1 from 2000-2004 and cemented the place of Ferrari as a great racing brand.


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