1929-1932. Ferrari: The Scuderia, The Prancing Horse, Dino and the retirement
With the valuable support, depth of knowledge and illustrative talent of Prof. Massimo Grandi
The profound crisis that shook America and had serious economic and political repercussions across Europe, began with the Wall Street crash on 29th October 1929. Enzo Ferrari, with the fundamental financial support of partners and drivers, founded Scuderia Ferrari on 16th November of the same year. Perfect timing? Yes, but it wasn’t deliberate: Ferrari, a brilliant Alfa Romeo driver, troubled by the numerous disagreements with his wife, Laura, and burdened by the fear of having a fatal accident during a race, had already thought about creating a structure that would take care of organizing the participation of semi-professional drivers at the races, men who were always well-off, which is not an insignificant fact – and provide assistance and maintenance for the cars.
The fact that his vision, even before the global crisis, went well beyond the original project, was demonstrated by the fact that two small but significant shares of the Scuderia had also been underwritten by Alfa Romeo and Pirelli. The crisis that had affected every sector, putting manufacturers at risk of no longer having the means to set up official teams, gave Ferrari the chance to think big to the point of contracting two highly respectable champions, Campari and Nuvolari for all those races they did not enter into officially with the Alfa Romeo team. Nuvolari was already famous for his legendary exploits at races such as the time he defeated his arch enemy Varzi at the 1000 Miglia, tailing him at night with his headlights off and then overtaking him in total surprise! Thanks to a loan granted to him by Banco San Geminiano e San Prospero, to which he always remained loyal, the young Ferrari, who was 31 years old at the time, bought four 1.5 and 1.7 litre, six cylinder Alfa Romeos and a P2 destined for Campari.
The organization of the Scuderia, even before the arrival of the official Alfa drivers, had proven itself particularly efficient: two placings at the Mille Miglia with Ferrari himself bringing the first podium finish home to the Scuderia by arriving third on the Circuit of Alessandria with the 6C-1750 SS. Victory however, continued to elude the team but finally came with Nuvolari and the P2 at the Trieste Opicina. And this was just the beginning. There were numerous other victories but, more importantly still, the Scuderia proved itself a worthy contender, hiring champions and giving the manufacturers a good run for their money. Ferrari also convinced what we now call sponsors to support his activity: Pirelli, Shell and Bosch.
The turning point came when Alfa Romeo decided to entrust its official cars to the Scuderia when it was not officially present. With this formula, the Scuderia headed out to the German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring with Nuvolari. The Mantuan put all the Mercedes cars behind him except for the one driven by Caracciola who won the race. Enzo decided to retire: his wife was expecting Dino. His last race was at the Trea Provincie Circuit. He fought like a lion but was beaten by Nuvolari – in an Alfa from the Scuderia! – who overtook him in the last few seconds of the race. He wasn’t able to retire victorious but his talent was indisputable.
A curiosity: his mechanic and race partner, Dino Tagliazucchi, from that moment on was to become his faithful and reserved driver. In just two years, Ferrari, who among his many talents also had the gift of forging great relationships with journalists, who supported him in his efforts, had created an established and admired structure that also began to modify and improve the cars. His intentions were clear. Not only that, he expanded his activity to include motorcycles with his racers riding the British Rudge, made by the company that produced the wired wheels of his cars.
And what about the Prancing Horse? Enzo had been given it eight years earlier by the Count and Countess Baracca but it appeared for the first time on an Alfa of the Scuderia, placed on a yellow shield with the Italian tricolore flag that we all know so well, at the 24 Hours of Spa in 1932. Once again it was a powerful signal: if the official Alfas had the four-leaf clover, the Scuderia’s were recognizable by the shield on the side. It was a premonition: in 1933 Alfa Romeo retired from racing and it was up to the Scuderia to defend its colours.