20 FEBRUARY 2018, 3:55PM / DAVE ABRAHAMS
|Enzo Ferrari joined the Alfa Romea factory team as a works driver in 1920, aged just 20.
Maranello, Italy - The Ferrari museum is celebrating the 120th birthday of Enzo Ferrari, who was born on either 18 or 20 February 1898 in Modena, with an exhibition of rarely seen photos detailing the life of the man who to this day casts a giant shadow over Formula One racing and the company he founded.
It seems the controversy around the second son of cabinetry engineer Alfredo Ferrari and Adalgisa Bisbini started the day he was born. His birth was registered on the 20th but his father later claimed that his younger son was in fact born two days earlier. A huge snowstorm, he said, prevented him from visiting the local municipal office until the 20th.
The Ferrari family in 1906, from left Enzo, his older brother Dino, his father Alfredo and mother Adalgisa.
Enzo Ferrari's first job was as a test and race driver for Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali. He drives a 15-20 Hp CMN in the 1919 Targa Florio with riding mechanic Nino Baretta.
Ferrari lost his father and brother in the great flu pandemic, and nearly died of it himself in 1918. When he was medically discharged from the army he started looking for a job in motorsport and, after a short stint as a test and racing driver for Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali (CMN) he joined Alfa Romeo’s racing team in 1920, where he rattled more than a few cages by finishing second in that year’s Targa Florio.
|While still under restraint of trade to Alfa Romeo, Ferrari built two cars for the 1940 Brescia Grand Prix under the name Auto-Avio Costruzioni, one of which is still in the Righini Collection. Ferrari is at the rear right in this picture.
|Testing the first Ferrari 246 F1 car at Modena in 1958. In the car is factory test driver Martino Severi. Ferrari is third
from right; the big man next to him is legendary engine designer Carlo Chiti.
The following year Alberto Ascari, son of the great Antonio, gave Ferrari the first of many world titles, but not enough wealthy ‘gentleman racers’ were lining up to buy replicas of his championship-winning machines, and Ferrari realised he would have to start selling street-legal versions of his sports-racing cars to finance his motorsport stable.
|Impromptu trackside conference in 1965. Il Commendetore is on the right; second from left, holding his crash helmet,
is works driver John Surtees. On the transport behind them are a P3, left and a 250 GTO.
And the rest, as they say, is history; Ferrari sold 50 percent of his road car operation to Fiat in the 1960s but retained full control of the competition division until his death in 1988 - which, at his request, was not made public for 48 hours to make up for his father’s tardiness 90 years earlier!
He left a legacy of champions and championships, of autocratic leadership and some of the world’s finest racing and performance cars, that will never be equalled.