Ferrari: The Man, the Machines and Formula One

Barry RosenbergContributor IIMarch 12, 2013

Ferrari is beloved by all of Italy
Ferrari is beloved by all of ItalyMark Thompson/Getty Images

One hundred and fifteen years ago, Modena, Italy was an industrial town where machinery was being built even before Enzo Ferrari was born there on February 18, 1898. Enzo was still a very young man when he spent time in an artillery division of the Italian army. He saw action in World War I before he returned to Modena, only to find that his family's business was moribund.

There was no alternative for the young, mechanically-inclined man but to go to work. He was taken on by a small company, where he was engaged in building small automobiles in an industry that was in its infancy. During his tenure, young Enzo Ferrari absorbed all that there was about building automobiles, and after a few years, he moved on to a position with Alpha Romeo.

Enzo's courage and skill enabled him to rise to his dream of racing after a stint as a tester. In the late 1920s, the Great Depression descended upon Italy, and Alpha was forced to abandon the racing team.

Enzo Ferrari soon took advantage of the Alpha Romeo facilities and equipment to establish a division devoted to his true desire—a racing team dubbed Scuderia Ferrari. He was determined to continue his pursuit of auto racing. He departed from Alpha and was able to acquire support from the venerable tire company, Pirelli. The contemporary Pirelli company develops and supplies speciality tires to all Formula One teams even now, in 2013, and exerts powerful influence on the sport.

Young and ambitious, Ferrari formed a partnership with a gifted mechanic, Guglielmo Carraroli, and they purchased and old Isotta Fraschini Grand Prix racer, but it was his talent in an Alpha Romeo 20/30 that earned him second place overall in the 1920 Targa Florio, a most ferocious race. He had arrived at last as a race driver with which to reckon.

At the time, Enzo wrote that he felt like the Lord of the Universe while driving the Alpha Romeo and was fulfilled by the knowledge that he'd earned his way into the Alpha fraternity of drivers like Campari and Baldoni.

Enzo unflaggingly pursued his passion for racing and established a facility to build his own cars in Modena. However, during World War II, his factory was bombed. Thereafter, he moved his operations to Maranello, Italy, where in 1947, he established Ferrari S.p.A., dedicated to racing in Le Mans and primarily Grand Prix Formula One.

His company created and produced road cars solely for the purpose of funding Enzo's passion for racing, and it still does to this day.