In 1920, Enzo Ferrari, having decided in the wake of the Great War that racing was to be his life, founded a business that in today’s terms would be defined a start-up.
With the support of images provided by Massimo Grandi, we are kicking off 2021 with the story of Enzo Ferrari and his various enterprises. However, this will be the true story, not the one most people know! We will be sharing details that shed light on exactly how Ferrari succeeded in creating, from nothing, a timeless and legendary story of the kind that fascinate the whole world a story of boldness and vision, like those of Steve Jobs and Elon Musk.
The story, which we will be publishing in instalments every Monday, covers three main periods in Ferrari’s life. In short, we will be looking at: the early days and Ferrari’s time as a racing driver; the invention of the Scuderia concept; and Ferrari the car maker.
In 1919, Enzo Ferrari took part in his first competitive race, the Parma-Poggio di Berceto hill climb. Only 21 years old at the time, he was supported in this endeavor by his employer, the car manufacturer CMN (for which he would drive bare chassis from Turin to Milan, to receive their bodywork). At this event, he notched up his first success: a fantastic fourth place!
In 1932, Enzo, by this time a well-known driver, had the brilliant idea of creating a club, or Scuderia, for the purpose of giving both amateur (i.e., paying) and professional drivers the chance to race. The many professionals who got involved included the famous Nuvolari. The Scuderia proved to be a hugely successful and profitable venture.
1940. This was the year in which Enzo parted company with Alfa Romeo (after winding up his Scuderia there), and embarked on his adventure as a car manufacturer. Since the terms of his “divorce” from Alfa Romeo prohibited him from using the Ferrari brand name for at least four years, the first car he built was for Auto Avio Costruzioni (his own firm). The model in question, the Auto Avio Costruzioni 815, made its debut in the 1940 Mille Miglia.
Fast but fragile, the two 815s participating in that event, driven respectively by Alberto Ascari and Lotario Rangoni Machiavelli, both had the misfortune to break down when extremely well placed. By this time, of course, the Second World War had already begun, and for this reason, everything had to be put on hold. It was therefore to be a few years before Enzo was finally able to unveil the Ferrari 125. Created at Maranello in 1947, this was the first car to bear his name, and was thus the first true Ferrari.
Every chapter in this story stems from the intelligence and enormous talent of a man whose example, even today, can teach us things about what it takes to be successful, as we shall discover…