Enzo Ferrari was born in Modena, February 18th 1898. At the age of ten years his father Alfredo, manager in a local factory of metal works, took both he and his brother Alfredo Jr. to Bologna, to watch a car race. After seeing that and other races Enzo Ferrari decided that he wanted to become a pilot (racing driver).
The school career of Enzo Ferrari was quietly insufficient, and that was reason of great regret in his last years. 1916 is a tragic year, when suddenly death catches both the father and the brother. During the World War he worked as a blacksmith, making and repairing horseshoes for the mules of the Italian army, and, in 1918, he nearly died because of the terrible epidemic that affected the whole of Europe.
He started to wark at the CMN, a small car factory converted at the end of the war. His tasks included test driving, which he did with extreme joy. Right at that time he started to seriously approach racing, and in 1919 took part in the Targa Florio, where finished in ninth place. Thanks to his friend Ugo Sivocci Enzo started to work at Alfa Romeo. Alfa Romeo produced new concept-cars for the 1920 Targa Florio and Ferrari, driving one of these cars, arrived in second place.
While working at Alfa Romeo, he became one of the favourites of Giorgio Rimini, the main assistant of Nicola Romeo. In 1923 he raced and won on the circuit of Sivocci, near Ravenna, where he met the father of the legendary italian ace pilot of the World War, Francesco Baracca, who was astonished by the courage and the audacity of the young Ferrari, and introduced himself to Enzo with the badge of the son's air squadron, the famous prancing black horse on a yellow shield. In 1924 hit his highest level winning the Acerbo Cup.
After some other successes he was promoted official pilot. But his racing career continued only in local championships and with second-hand cars. Finally he had the possibility to drive a new car in the most prestigious race of the year, the french Grand Prix.
He married, and opened an Alfa official shop in Modena. In 1929 he opened his own factory, the Scuderia Ferrari. He was sponsored in this venture by rich textile entrepreneurs from Ferrara, Augusto and Alfredo Caniano. The main objective of the company was to supply mechanical and technical know-how to the rich purchasers of Alfa Romeo that used these cars in the races. He signed an agreement with the Alfa Romeo to supply technical attendance also to their direct customers. Enzo Ferrari signed similar contracts also with Robert Bosch GmbH, Pirelli and Shell. In order to increase its scuderia of amateur pilots, he convinced Giuseppe Campari to join the squadron, and then another hit followed with Tazio Nuvolari. In its first year the Scuderia Ferrari counted 50 pilots, both full time and part-time! The team competed in 22 races and the results were eight victories and several good placings. The Scuderia Ferrari became a study case, also because of being the greatest team built together by a single person. The pilots did not receive a salary but a percentage of the victory prizes, but every technical or economical request from a pilot was accepted.
All that started to change when Alfa Romeo announced its decision to withdraw during the racing season 1933, because of financial problems. The Scuderia Ferrari could then enter officially in the world of races. In the 1935 the French pilot Rene Dreyfus signed for the Scuderia Ferrari. He was a Bugatti pilot before. He was so impressed by the difference between the old team and the Scuderia Ferrari to say such words: "The difference between the Bugatti team and the Scuderia Ferrari is like between the day and the night. [...] With Ferrari I have learned the art of the business in the races, because there is no doubt that Ferrari is a great businessman. [...] Enzo Ferrari loves the races, "su questo non ci piove" (literally: "can't rain on that" means there's no doubt). Though he is able to smooth everything for the prosecution of his objective that is to build a financial empire. I am sure that one day he will become a great man, even if the cars that he will send to the tracks would not carry his name anymore".
In these years the Scuderia Ferrari could boast great pilots like Giuseppe Campari, Louis Chiron, Achille Varzi and best of all, Tazio Nuvolari. During these years the team raced against the power of the german teams Auto Union and Mercedes.
After the second World War, Enzo Ferrari built his first own car and in the Grand Prix of Monaco of 1947 appeared the model 125 (Tipo 125) with 1.5 liters engine. The car was conceived by his helper Gioacchino Colombo. The first victory of Ferrari in a Grand Prix came in 1951 in the GP of Great Britain where the Argentinian Froilan Gonzales lead to the victory the car of the Scuderia. The team nearly won the World Championship but any hope vanished in the GP of Spain when the Scuderia chose Pirelli tires: the result was a disaster, and let Fangio win the race and his first world championship.
The sport's cars became a problem for Ferrari, not totally satisfied by his victories. His main market was based on race cars of the previous year sold to private pilots. The Ferrari cars became common in all the main race events like Le Mans, Targa Florio and the Mille Miglia. And it is right at the Mille Miglia that Ferrari had some of his greatest victories. In the 1948 edition, Nuvolari, already in bad health, was enrolled, even if his body could not resist to a similar effort. At the stage of Ravenna Nuvolari, as the great champion he has ever been, was already far ahead, and his advantage was more than 1 hour. Unfortunately Nuvolari was stopped by the breakdown of the brakes.
In that period Ferrari began to produce his famous Gran Turismo sports cars, designed by Battista "Pinin" Farina. The victories in Le Mans and in other long distance races made the Ferrari brand famous all over the world.
In 1969 Ferrari had to fight against serious financial difficulties. The cars were in much demand at that time but Ferrari could not produce enough to satisfy the demand and at the same time maintain his own racing ambitions. To his aid came FIAT and the Agnelli family. That agreement between Ferrari and the FIAT empire was very criticized and thought responsible for the inability to dominate the smaller English racing teams.
In 1975 the Ferrari came to a rebirth with the new pilot Niki Lauda who in three years won two driver's World Championship and let Ferrari win three manufacturer's World Championships. But those were the last the important victories in Enzo Ferrari's lifetime; on August 14th 1988, at the age of 90, he died.