Enzo Ferrari was first brought to the races by his father. The experience of taking in the sights and sounds of early automobile racing made an indelible impact on the destiny he chose for himself. Rather than follow his father’s footsteps into the family business, Enzo sought to find a job after the war with Alfa Romeo, the eminent car manufacturer of the time. Unfortunately even with a letter of recommendation from his Army captain, Enzo was not hired as a machinist. Undeterred, he made himself a known figure in a local trattoria frequented by race car drivers and was able to get a job recommendation at a smaller company some ten miles away from Turin.
His keen sense of machinery and how far an engine could be pushed, made him an excellent judge of performance and talent. Enzo in his early career made several wins as a race car driver, although not enough to be classified as a remarkable one. He embarked on a series of ventures, convincing wealthy investors interested in fast cars that he could build a better car each year. People believed his charming ways and even workers were spellbound by his charisma, often working weekends or late at night to build the Ferrari car.
In 1929 he formed the Scuderia Ferrari racing team, using Fiat cars customized to his specifications. It wasn’t till 1947 that the first Ferrari badged car, the 125 S, came into being. It was powered by a 1.5 L V12 engine at a time when most Italian cars only had engines with less than half of that power.
The Ferrari mystique was fueled in the early days by participation in long distance road races such as the Mille Miglia, a 1,000 kilometer endurance race on open road. Ferrari cars and its team of drivers soon became the talk of the town. Aided by consecutive victories in Italy and abroad, Enzo was able to sustain his racing prowess by offering the race winning models to the public, albeit equipped with less powerful engines and more luxurious interiors. Customers enthusiastically embraced the idea of driving a car with coachwork similar to the sports car pedigree winners, and orders for road cars that referenced their race car siblings ensured a steady cashflow for the company.
Enzo Ferrari’s company was guided by his steady hand for 40 years up until his death in 1988. By that time the Ferrari marque had been established as a national icon of Italian automobilia and continues to dominate in F1 racing even today.