Enzo Anselmo Ferrari, born in Italy in 1898, began searching for a job in the car industry following the collapse of his family’s carpentry business. Having unsuccessfully volunteered to FIAT, Ferrari settled for a job as a test-driver for Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazioni, a car manufacturer in Milan, which rebuilt used truck bodies into small passenger cars.
In 1920, Ferrari joined the racing department of Alfa Romeo as a driver and later won the Coppa Acerbo at Pescara in 1924. The Scuderia Ferrari, founded in 1929, which is now the official race car division for Ferrari, began as a division of Alfa that specialised in preparing race cars to drive. This was at a time when sports car racing was really taking off as an activity for the rich and famous.
Finishing in second place at the Circuito Tre Province in 1931, this was the last time that Ferrari competed as a driver, before wanting to focus on his family and the birth of his first son, Alfredo, also known as Dino.
Although Ferrari had scored a huge victory with one of his cars at the German Grand Prix in 1935, Ferrari left Alfa Romeo in 1939, with the stipulation he could not use the Ferrari name in association with racing or cars for at least four years.
Soon after leaving Alfa Romeo, Ferrari opened Auto Avio Costruzioni and sought to develop his own racing cars. In 1947, he took the first official Ferrari, the 125 S, out for a test drive and Ferrari is now one of the world’s most admired and luxury sports car automakers.
In the early 1950s, race car driver, Luigi Chinetti, opened the first Ferrari showroom and dealership in the United States. This was around the time that the company started to produce cars for road use, with the rich and famous lining up for a chance to purchase one of these dazzling vehicles. The location later moved from Manhattan to Connecticut, but the Ferrari market in the United States became and still is one of the most lucrative in the world.
Even though Ferrari may have had a tremendous time rocketing to the top of the racing industry, his world later came crashing down in 1956 when his son Dino sadly passed away. On top of this devastating loss, Ferrari received more tragic news as six of his drivers were killed between 1955 and 1965, and he was even tried for manslaughter (and acquitted) after one of his cars careened into the roadside cowed at the 1957 Mille Miglia and killed nine spectators.
Resigning as president of his company in 1977, Ferrari later died in 1988. With his cars having won more than 4,000 races and claiming 13 world championships, he was also inducted into the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1994 in recognition of his accomplishments.
Today, Ferrari cars continue to be recognised as top racing products, with some of the best and fastest cars in history. Often being associated with its vibrant red colour, this was part of a tradition and by regulation, racing cars from Italy were required to be painted red. However, after the 1960s, this was no longer required, but Ferrari wanted to stick with its tradition and it is now part of the brand’s overall image.
Even today Enzo Ferrari remains the subject of public intrigue as his life was captured in the 2003 film Ferrari. It was later announced in 2015 that two new biopics were in the works, with Christian Bale and Robert De Niro set to star in competing films about the famously reclusive auto impresario.
So, when it comes to Formula One racing, remember that Ferrari holds the title for the longest-standing and most successful competitor and as well as being one of the most iconic brands in the world, the Italian carmaker has also won over 5,000 prizes and competed in tracks around the globe.