Everyone knows the Ferrari. It’s the car we dream about when we’re kids, and the car we still dream about when we’re grown-ups. But only auto aficionados know about the man who created the famous car. Enzo Ferrari is among the most important people of the 20th century, especially in the auto industry.
Born in Italy in 1898, Enzo loved racing from the get-go. And when he turned 10, he saw the 1908 Circuit di Bologna race and decided he would realize his dream of becoming a race car driver.
It didn’t seem like he would realize his dream at first. He served in World War I, where he lost his brother and father and almost died himself in a flu outbreak.
He soon landed a job as a test driver, and was quickly promoted to a racing driver. In just the same year, he entered his first race—the Parma-Poggio di Percento uphill race—and finished at an impressive 4th place. This was a clear indication that he would become one of the greats.
In 1920, he took second place at the Targa Florio race with an Alfa Romeo, and went on to have a 20-year relationship with the car maker. In 1924, he had his career’s greatest victory, when he drove an Alfa Romeo RL at the Coppa Acerbo.
This victory put him in the public eye and popularized him as a racer. Come 1929, Ferrari founded the Scuderia Ferrari Grand Pix racing team for Alfa Romeo.
After retiring from racing in 1931, Ferrari joined the board and eventually left Alfa Romeo in 1939. In 1945, he started designing the first Ferrari car.
The engine he built became the basis for what the car would become. His creation went on to become one of the biggest racing companies known to man and when he eventually passed on in 1988, he left an empire that most people can only dream about. He was, truly, a legend.