Ferrari Biographies

Designer Carlo Felice Bianchi Anderloni is among the key figures in Ferrari history.

Enzo Ferrari didn't do it alone. Many others were indispensable to the creation and growth of the greatest name in high-performance motoring. This article gives valuable details on the talented designers, engineers, managers, and drivers who contributed to Ferrari's success on the road and the racetrack.

Read about each person's background, role in Ferrari history, and notable accomplishments. We'll start with Gianni Agnelli, one of Italy's most famous personalities, who orchestrated Fiat's purchase of Ferrari in 1969.


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Role in Ferrari History: Industrialist who orchestrated Fiat purchase of Ferrari

Gianni Agnelli (1921-2003) was the grandson of Giovanni Angelli, a wealthy senator who could be considered the father of Italy’s motoring industry as the founder of Fiat. Gianni studied law in college but never practiced it. He served in World War II, then acted as a liaison with the Americans after Italy surrendered in 1943.

His lean build and dashingly handsome looks saw him become known after the war as one of Europe’s leading playboys rather than industrialist-in-the-making. He inherited Fiat after his grandfather’s death in 1945, and during those years the company was run by Vittorio Valletta, a powerful Fiat executive with a background in economics and banking.

In the 1950s, Agnelli was one of Italy’s highest-profile personalities, and he commissioned a number of one-off Ferraris. In the latter years of the decade, he turned his attention to Fiat, and was named the company’s managing director in 1963. He became company president in 1966, and was soon expanding Fiat’s empire, and thus his, beyond Italy’s borders. He opened factories in Poland and in far-flung Russia and South America, and started a number of joint ventures and alliances with companies such as commercial-vehicle giant Iveco. Fiat also began buying up other Italian auto manufacturers, notably Lancia, in the late 1960s.

That was a tumultuous period in the auto industry, and in the gran turismo sector in particular. Labor and social upheaval, and new safety and emissions regulations, had most every GT constructor looking to find a larger company to act as a parent. For Ferrari that partner was Fiat. Enzo Ferrari and Gianni Agnelli completed the transaction in June 1969.

The marriage was timely, for it ensured Ferrari’s survival and growth. Four years later, the first oil crisis and resulting worldwide recession spelled the end of a number of GT manufacturers, but not Ferrari. Agnelli stepped down as Fiat’s chairman in 1996, but remained a force inside the company up to his death in 2003. Through it all, he was a consistent Ferrari customer, and received a one-off Testarossa convertible in 1985.

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©Ferrari S.p.A. Automotive design came naturally for Carlo Felice Bianchi Anderloni.

Role in Ferrari History: The designer who gave the Ferrari automobile its first “face”

Affable and widely respected, Carlo Felice Bianchi Anderloni (1916-2003) grew up with automotive design in his blood. The son of Felice Bianchi Anderloni, a principal in and design director of Carrozzeria Touring, young Carlo often accompanied his father to the famed coachbuilding firm during his youth. He also watched his father race successfully, and remembered pouring water on the competition car’s brakes to cool them down when, during road races, Felice would stop at the roadside family picnic!

Carlo Anderloni was blessed with a photographic memory, and as a youngster he observed his father’s creations from a unique perspective. “As I grew older,” he recalled, “my father would come home every day for lunch. From the window of our flat, I would see at least five different cars a week! So early on I became a fan of bodywork.”

Those memories, coupled with his own eye, his good taste, and lessons taught by Felice, all but guaranteed his place in automotive history. He graduated from college with a degree in mechanical and coachbuilding engineering. After service in World War II, he went to work at Touring, learning the business at the side of his father. He was thrown in the hot seat when Felice unexpectedly passed away in 1948.

Carlo’s first car was Ferrari’s seminal 166 Barchetta. “Just imagine if the first Ferrari I did was not a wonderful car,” he remembered years later. “Then all the people would have thought that if the design had turned out bad, Touring had finished with the death of my father.”

The 166 Barchetta influenced automotive design for more than a decade. Carlo penned a number of other Ferraris, and had clients as diverse as Alfa Romeo, Spain’s Pegaso, Britain’s Aston Martin, Lamborghini, and Hudson in America.

He remained Touring’s design director and a principal until it went under in 1966. The spirited, energetic Anderloni then served as a consultant to Alfa Romeo well into his 70s.

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Role in Ferrari History: Won Le Mans in 1949, Ferrari point man in the United States for decades

The son of a gunsmith, Luigi Chinetti (1901-1994) was born in Milan, Italy. He demonstrated mechanical aptitude at a young age and began working for Alfa Romeo in 1917. He wound up in Alfa’s competition department, where his path crossed Enzo Ferrari’s.

Chinetti eventually moved to Paris and became an Alfa salesman. He also proved to be an admirable driver, winning Le Mans in 1932 and ’34 in an Alfa 8C 2300. In 1940, he migrated to America, and stayed there when hostilities broke out in Europe. Six years later he became a U.S. citizen.

At Christmastime 1946, he met with Enzo Ferrari in Modena and proposed that he become Ferrari’s point man in America. Ferrari could not have picked a better representative. Chinetti’s talents were many, as demonstrated in 1948 when he sold the very first 166 Barchetta built off the Turin Auto Show stand to Southern California radio executive Tommy Lee.

Chinetti became Ferrari’s official U.S. importer in the early 1950s, a post he kept until 1979. “You never met another man like him,” former dealer and racer Bob Grossman remembered in the 1990s. “Everybody tries to dissect Chinetti, to figure him out . . . [H]e was much shrewder than anybody thought. He reminded me of Gucci. He made the cars so unattainable; [h]e made you want the car. He made you eat out of his hand . . . .”

But there was more to Chinetti’s Ferrari story than sales. In 1949, he won Le Mans in a 166 Barchetta. In 1951 he was the riding mechanic in the Ferrari 212 that won the Carrera Panamericana, a victory that brought great publicity to Ferrari in North America and to the Chinetti Motors dealership.

In 1956, he formed N.A.R.T. (North American Racing Team) with backing from wealthy racers George Arents and Jan de Vroom. Chinetti’s close relationship with Ferrari ensured a consistent string of competitive cars. N.A.R.T. also acted as a springboard for a number of top drivers such as future world champions Mario Andretti and Phil Hill.

Through the 1960s, N.A.R.T. competed in the world’s top races, often winning at venues such as the 24 Hours of Daytona in Florida. In 1965, N.A.R.T.’s 250 LM became the last Ferrari to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans. N.A.R.T raced into the early 1980s, then retired from the sport. Chinetti remained a fixture in the Ferrari world until his passing in August 1994.

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Role in Ferrari History: Gifted engineer who created the first Ferrari V-12

Gioachino Colombo (1903-1987) was one of the automotive world’s most prolific engineers. Born outside Milan, he began his career at age 14 as a technical draftsman at a noted school of mechanical technology. Work on steam turbines and diesel engines helped him land a job at Alfa Romeo in 1924.

No sooner had he arrived than he was working with the great Vittorio Jano on Alfa’s immortal P2, a grand prix car that raced successfully for six years. After four years with Jano, Colombo was appointed head of the technical department where his reach expanded into road cars.

The 1930s saw his name associated with such famed Alfa models as the 2.3 and 2.9, and the radical Touring-bodied 256 berlinettas. He and Enzo Ferrari had been good friends, so in 1937 Colombo was warmly greeted when he moved to Modena to oversee the design of one of Alfa’s most famous race cars, the Alfetta 158 single-seater.

Political intrigue surrounded Colombo during and immediately following the war, but that didn’t deter Ferrari from calling him in July 1945. Colombo was out of work, and he warmly welcomed the call. “For me,” he observed years later, “[the phone call] was something that could obliterate in one stroke those five years of war . . . .”

Colombo designed Ferrari’s first V-12 engine, and a great majority of the 125 model, then returned to Alfa Romeo. He worked off-and-on for Ferrari over the next six years, then once again went to Alfa. In 1952-53 he worked at Maserati, designing the 250F and six-cylinder engines.

This was followed by a stint at Bugatti in France, then a collaboration with Abarth on its successful, Fiat-derived twincam engine. He also worked with MV on several engines and its helicopters. Colombo opened his own engineering studio in 1971. At the time of his death in 1987, he could lay claim to approximately 110 different engine designs.

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Role in Ferrari History: Two competitors that kept Ferrari on its toes.

Adolfo Orsi (1888-1972) was born in Modena, the eldest of five children. An impoverished upbringing forced him to leave school at a young age to help his family subsist. This only inspired his entrepreneurial spirit. He became a scrap dealer and soon built his humble beginnings into a flourishing business. By the late 1920s, Orsi employed 2,000 people and owned his own foundries, railway lines, and car dealership.

In 1937, he purchased Maserati from the Maserati brothers in Bologna, and eventually moved the company to Modena. No sooner had it settled into its new surroundings than Maserati was once again creating competition cars. Even though the Maserati brothers left in 1947 to form OSCA, Orsi’s leadership skills encouraged most key employees to remain. His business acumen made Maserati a leading producer of prestigious GT cars in the late 1950s and ’60s, and Maserati sports-racing and F1 cars were constant thorns in Ferrari’s side. In 1957, Juan Manuel Fangio was the F1 championship in a Maserati. Eleven years later, Orsi sold Maserati to Citroën.

Ferruccio Lamborghini (1916-1993) appeared on Ferrari’s radar screen in the mid 1960s. The industrialist made a fortune manufacturing tractors, heaters, and air conditioners and, as an auto aficionado, decided in the early 1960s another opportunity lay in the production of gran turismos. His first, the 350 GT, was an understated machine that was as fast and more refined than anything Ferrari had at the time.

But, as Lamborghini’s former chief engineer Gianpaolo Dallara noted, “It wasn’t until we made the Miura that Ferrari took notice.” At its debut in 1966, this avant-garde midengine missile was faster and more radical than anything in Ferrari’s roadgoing stable, and it took the automotive world by storm. Ferrari responded with the Daytona. Lamborghini countered with the Countach. Ferrari replied with the Boxer.

Ferruccio sold his interest in his car company in the 1970s, but his competitive spirit could be seen in the 2000s as the Lamborghini Gallardo sparred with the Ferrari F430 and the Murcielago challenged the 575M.

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©Ferrari S.p.A. Mauro Forghieri designed some of the all-time great Ferraris.

Role in Ferrari History: Last of the great all-around engineers

Mauro Forghieri was born in Modena in 1935, the son of Reclus Forghieri. Reclus was an outstanding toolmaker who worked with Alfa Romeo and Enzo Ferrari prior to World War II. He headed Ferrari’s machine department after the war.

Mauro attended the University of Bologna and graduated in 1959 with a degree in engineering. He was eyeing a move to California, hoping to work in aircraft manufacturing and engineering with a firm such as Northrop when Enzo Ferrari called and offered a job. Forghieri accepted and began working for the company in 1960. He started in the engine department, performing calculations on the 1.5-liter engines and acting as liaison between chief engineer Carlo Chiti and the engine testing room.

In fall 1961, Forghieri suddenly found himself in the spotlight when Ferrari promoted him to chief engineer following the infamous Purge.

“There was no way I could have imagined that happening,” Forghieri said about the mass firing that led to his promotion. “I was one of the few engineers remaining, so The Old Man offered me to take care of the racing. He made it very clear he was behind me one hundred percent.” That gave the green-but-ambitious 20-something engineer the confidence he needed.

Forghieri became one of Ferrari’s greatest engineers, the last of a breed that could design an entire car, rather than just a section or component. His résumé included many of the all-time greats, from final development work on the 250 GTO to masterminding Ferrari’s midengine movement with the 250 P, 275 P, 330 P, 250 LM, and 330 P3, among others.

He remained at the forefront of the company’s F1 efforts, and was involved in a number of world champions. The Dino 158 and 512 from 1964 were his, as was the innovative 312 T series that won four F1 constructors and three driver’s titles in the second half of the 1970s. He then successfully guided Ferrari during the early years of the F1 Turbo era, his 126 C2 and C3 winning two constructors championships in the early 1980s.

Forghieri remained with Ferrari until 1987, then joined Lamborghini’s fledgling competition department. He stayed for several years before forming his own firm, Oral Engineering.

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Role in Ferrari History: The man who made Ferrari what it was in the marketplace

Ask most any die-hard Ferrari fan about Girolamo Gardini (1923-1994), and at best you’d get a raised eyebrow. But speak with insiders, such as Belgium importer Jacques Swaters and prominent client Count Giovanni Volpi, and they would unhesitatingly declare that it was Gardini who created the mystique around Ferrari by playing the market like a fiddle. Gardini was a master at building desire, orchestrating who would have to wait for a car, who would get it tomorrow, and who wouldn’t get one at all.

He was born in 1923 in Modena, the only child of a small shop owner who sold grain. He joined Ferrari’s Auto Avio Costruzioni company in 1942, working first in purchasing, then assuming administrative duties. He became the company’s sales manager in 1950, keeping the role until his departure 11 years later. Gardini’s philosophy on building the Ferrari mystique was simple: “The cars must be ‘required,’” he told this author in 1994, “never ‘offered.’” In other words, the purchaser went to Ferrari, not the other way around.

That philosophy worked like a charm, and had the era’s most prestigious coachbuilders, and some of its most important automotive figures, lined up at Ferrari’s door. Gardini recalled milestones such as the importance of the 166 Barchetta and how Henry Ford came calling, desiring one. Word filtered through the market that one of the world’s most important industrialists had purchased a Ferrari.

Gardini also marveled at Carrozzeria Vignale’s creativity and its ability to “make a car in 20 days.” And by his lights, it was the work of another coachbuilder that truly transformed Ferrari into a “modern” firm. “The true start of the Ferrari factory,” he said, “was in 1958 when Pinin Farina built 100 cars that were the same.”

Gardini played an instrumental role in the creation of the 250 GTO, but was ousted from Ferrari in 1961’s Purge before final development was completed. Gardini was forever loyal to Ferrari, and the respect he had inside the firm caused a number of other managers to also get fired when they tried to convince Enzo to hire him back.

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©Ferrari S.p.A. Luca Cordero di Montezemolo became Ferrari CEO in 1991.

Role in Ferrari History: F1 manager in 1970s, Ferrari savior in 1990s

If Webster’s Dictionary ever needs a new definition for the word “charisma,” its editors might simply have the entry read “The Marquis Luca Cordero di Montezemolo.” Born in Bologna in 1947, Montezemolo studied law at the University of Rome, then continued at New York’s Columbia University, where he specialized in International Commercial Law.

He briefly worked in a Rome-based law firm before being hired by Fiat in 1973. He quickly became Enzo Ferrari’s assistant, and in 1975 was named manager of the Formula 1 team, bringing Ferrari its first driver’s and constructors championships since 1964. Three more titles followed over the next two years.

In 1977, Montezemolo became the Fiat Group’s Senior Vice President of External Relations, a position he held until 1981. After managing Itedi, a Fiat subsidiary that published the widely read La Stampa newspaper. The maker of wines and spirits, Cinzano, was his next stop. He also managed Italy’s first entry in the America’s Cup, and was director of the country’s 1990 World Cup-winning soccer team.

Ferrari courted him in 1991 to become its CEO, and Montezemolo recognized what he was up against. As he recalled years later about the 348 model he had recently purchased, “I was utterly disappointed. This was the worst product Ferrari had developed for some time.”

No sooner had he arrived than product quality improved dramatically, the 348 becoming an outstanding car. Ferrari went from one winning product to another under Montezemolo, first with the 456 GT, then the F355, and the 550 Maranello. Montezemolo’s vision of product pushed boundaries, as the 360 Modena, F430, and the radical Enzo demonstrated.

He was equally active in Ferrari’s competition operations. Montezemolo orchestrated the signing of driver Michael Schumacher, and made certain the right team surrounded him. The result was 1999-2004’s unprecedented dominance of Formula 1.

His vision didn’t stop there. His “Formula Uomo” concept transformed the company and its working environment, making the Ferrari facility into a beautiful, ecologically smart “small town” devoted to constructing cars of the highest technology.

In 2004 he was appointed head of Italy’s powerful Confindustria business lobby. That same year he became Chairman of Fiat.

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Battista Pininfarina started his world-class coachbuilding company in 1930.

Role in Ferrari History: The design dynasty that gave Ferrari its enduring style

Born Battista Farina (1893-1966), his nickname “Pinin” was local Turinese dialect for smallest of the family. That, however, did nothing to diminish the man’s towering influence on the automotive world.

Pinin’s career started in his teenage years at his brother Giovanni’s coachbuilding firm, Stablimenti Industriali Farina S.A. Pinin’s innate design abilities, social graces, and managerial skills saw him rapidly ascend, and by the 1920s he was visiting Ford in America, where he turned down a job offer. That trip taught Pinin much about mass-production techniques.

Sergio Pininfarina followed his father's lead.

He left Stablimenti Farina in 1930 to start his own company, Carrozzeria Pinin Farina (the Pininfarina name officially became one word in 1961). The firm grew rapidly through the 1930s, and then especially during the immediate postwar years, with clients as diverse as Cadillac, Alfa Romeo, and Bentley. Pinin is widely regarded as the world’s master of elegant automotive shapes, forms, and proportions, as exemplified by his revolutionary berlinetta of 1947, the Cisitalia 202.

That level of design caught the eye of Enzo Ferrari, and in 1952, Carrozzeria Pinin Farina began working with Ferrari. From the start, Pinin put his son Sergio (1926- ) in charge of the Ferrari account. Then in his mid 20s, young Sergio had his hands full with a truculent Enzo Ferrari, but won over the great man with his engineering and design acumen, and his good nature, tenacity, and honesty.

Some of the world’s most-beautiful and highest-performing automobiles resulted from the relationship between Ferrari and Sergio Pininfarina. But Sergio’s role entailed more than handling the Ferrari account. Throughout the 1950s, he became more and more involved in the running of Pininfarina while maintaining a hand in its styling direction. When his father died 1966, Sergio was named the company’s president.

In the second half of the 1970s, he was president of the Turin Industrialists’ Union, and played an integral role in soothing the city’s tumultuous business climate during the period. A worldwide ambassador for Italy, he was also elected to Europe’s Parliament, among numerous other honors.

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©Ferrari S.p.A. Sergio Scaglietti was a top designer.

Role in Ferrari History: Championship-winning coachbuilder, Enzo Ferrari confidant

Sergio Scaglietti (1920- ) of Modena began his career in the automotive industry at age 13. His father had suddenly passed away, so Sergio’s older brother lied about Sergio’s age to get him a job at the carrozzeria that employed him. Sergio, who enjoyed working with his hands, became a quick study.

When Sergio was 17, his older brother and another employee formed their own coachbuilding company and took young Sergio with them. They set up shop in downtown Modena across the street from Enzo Ferrari’s Scuderia Ferrari, and in a short time they were repairing the Scuderia’s cars.

World War II interrupted further development of the relationship. In the years after the war, Ferrari was comfortable enough with Scaglietti’s maturing talent that he frequently brought him crashed cars for repair.

Then in the early 1950s, a gentleman racer from Bologna commissioned Sergio to rebody his damaged Touring Barchetta. “Enzo Ferrari saw this and said ‘That is not bad,’” Scaglietti remembered. “From this, he entrusted me with a new chassis.”

By 1954, Scaglietti was a sanctioned Ferrari coachbuilder who received a number of chassis directly from the factory for coachwork. He designed all his shapes “by the eyes alone,” he said, letting his own “good taste, understanding of aerodynamics, style, and function” dictate his designs.

Before long, the Ferraris emanating from the shop would be ranked among the most beautiful and memorable competition cars ever made. The honor roll included such top-flight sports-racing cars as the 500 Mondial and 500 TR and TRC, the classic pontoon-fender 250 Testa Rossa, the winning 290 MM, 315 and 335 S, and the immortal 250 GTO.

In the late 1950s, with Enzo Ferrari setting him up with the banker and cosigning the loan, Scaglietti greatly expanded his enterprise. He began building numerous street Ferraris to designs by Pinin Farina. His business prospered, and Scaglietti enjoyed the rewards and prosperity the expansion brought him.

In the late 1960s, however, with labor troubles a constant, Scaglietti leapt at the opportunity to join Ferrari in a sale of his business to Fiat. Scaglietti continued to manage the carrozzeria until his retirement in the mid 1980s. Ferrari’s 612 Scaglietti model, and the Carrozzeria Scaglietti customization program, were named after the humble artisan.

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Michael Schumacher signed with Ferrari in 1996.

Role in Ferrari History: Six consecutive F1 constructors championships and five consecutive F1 World Driving Championships with Ferrari

Michael Schumacher (1969- ) was the face of Formula 1 racing as the sport grew to unprecedented worldwide popularity in the 1990s and early 2000s.

Going into the 2004 season, he had amassed more career victories, 82, and more World Championships, 7, than any driver in F1 history. He was by that season 35 years old, the “old man” of the circuit, but he remained its finest-conditioned athlete.

The most dominating driver in the annals of F1 was born near Cologne, Germany, in January 1969. His father managed a local karting track, and hand-built go-karts for Michael, who began competing at age four. Schumacher obtained his first competition license at age 12. As a teenager, he won numerous European karting championships. He graduated to Formula 3, and won the F3 title at age 21. He was quickly hired by Mercedes-Benz to drive the World Endurance Championship Sauber-Mercedes.

Schumacher’s F1 debut came in 1991, for Jordan; he qualified an impressive seventh for his first race, the Belgium Grand Prix, and finished the season 14th among 24 drivers in overall points. Benetton-Ford signed him for 1992. He had one win that year, but finished third in the driver’s championship. His first World Championship came for Benetton-Ford in 1994; he repeated in ’95. By the end of that season he had been in 31 F1 races, and had finished first 17 times.

Schumacher signed with Ferrari in 1996, finished a close second in driver’s points in ’97 and ’98, and helped bring the constructors title to Maranello in 1999. In 2000, Ferrari and Schumacher began a string of five consecutive constructor and driver’s championships.

Michael Schumacher dominated F1 racing for years.

Schumacher’s success didn’t come without a controversial “win at all costs” reputation, and he pushed more than one title competitor off the track. Away from F1, Schumacher was intensely private, though the nonracing world took notice in 2004 when he made a $10 million donation to tsunami relief.

After but a single victory in 2005 and another seven in ’06, Schumacher confirmed what many had long suspected and announced his retirement from Formula One. He informed the press after scoring his 90th GP win at Monza in October, less than three months before his 39th birthday. “Judging by the look on his face,” noted Road & Track’s Joe Rusz, “the enormity of his decision had just begun to sink in.”

The racing world certainly needed time to adjust. Schumacher’s departure immediately changed not only Ferrari’s near-term prospects but the complexion of the entire Formula One scene. It could hardly be otherwise, given his long career and sterling accomplishments: 16 seasons, 249 starts, 91 victories, and a record seven world driving championships. Though debate still rages over who might pick up his mantle, most everyone agrees that Schumacher will be missed for years to come. Rusz, for one, posed the inevitable question, “Will there ever be another Schumi,” then supplied this answer from another legendary driver, Mario Andretti: “Yeah, there will be others, but he will remain forever in history and people will look back with nostalgia on the days of Michael Schumacher.”

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©Ferrari S.p.A. Jean Todt became Ferrari CEO in 2006.

Role in Ferrari history: Team manager who helped restore Ferrari’s F1 glory in the 1990s; later added production-car and CEO responsibilities.

Jean Todt came to Maranello in 1994 at the behest of company president Luca di Montezemolo, charged with reviving Ferrari’s then-flagging Formula 1 program. Though it was his first involvement with Grand Prix, Todt was eminently qualified, having made his mark as a first-class driver, navigator and team manager in international rallying and sports-car competition.

Born in 1946 to middle-class French parents, Todt was passionate about motor racing as a boy. He especially dreamed of becoming “the most talented F1 driver ever,” as he told Ferrari Rosso magazine. “My father was a doctor, but I had no money, and I thought the best way to get in without having anything to invest was to be a rally co-driver.” He got just that chance in 1966, as a last-minute substitute. But young Jean soon decided he would be even better as a navigator. He was, and went on to land a series of rides with several top teams, thanks to a growing reputation for cool-headed dedication, meticulous organization, and consummate people skills.

Those traits would serve him well starting in late 1981, when Todt realized another ambition in being named to head a newly formed motorsports division at Peugeot Talbot. Over the next few years he spearheaded development of Peugeot’s Group B rally car, the turbocharged all-wheel-drive 205 T16 that won both driver’s and manufacturer’s championships in 1985 and ’86. When the FIA sanctioning body abruptly ended Group B, due to a number of fatal accidents, Todt turned Peugeot to off-road endurance racing, leading to four outright wins in the gruelling Paris-Dakar rally. He then set himself a new challenge: a high-speed prototype-class racer for LeMans and the FIA World Sportscar Championship. Though the Peugeot 905 was uncompetitive on its late-1990 debut, Todt assembled the people and resources to make the car a winner in 1992. Its last and best moment came in 1993 with a 1-2-3 sweep at LeMans.

Todt proposed that Peugeot enter Grand Prix racing, but when the company said non, he decided it was time for a change. “I thought I had done everything in motor racing...apart from F1, which was not for me absolutely necessary,” he recalled in Ferrari Rosso. “I wanted to be more involved as a manager in a different activity within the company.” Trouble was, Peugeot had nothing like that available, and it was about to abandon racing.

Then Ferrari called with an offer Todt couldn’t refuse. It was the same sort of job, and it meant leaving his family behind in France, but it was the chance of a lifetime. “It’s not like [with] Peugeot or Toyota,” he said. “It’s like you are competing in the finals of the soccer World Cup. That’s the way Ferrari is . . . [The decision] was difficult, but the best choice I could have made.”

It might not have seemed so when he arrived. Ferrari’s F1 team had been winless for three seasons, beset by corporate politics and internal distractions resulting from unhelpful management shuffles ordered by parent Fiat. But now Di Montezemolo was in charge, and he told Todt to do what was necessary. Todt did, raiding Team Benetton to secure two-time world champion driver Michael Schumacher. Engineer Rory Byrne and technical director Ross Brawn followed him to Italy during 1997. With patient determination, Todt welded these and other talents into a focused, well-oiled team that would prove unstoppable starting in 1999, ultimately amassing six straight makes titles and five world driver crowns.

In person, Jean Todt has the stern correctness of a military man. He seldom smiles, and has no time to suffer fools, especially if they’re journalists. But those who know him say he can also be warm, playful and generous, traits that doubtless account for the strong loyalty he engenders in those he works with. He forged a particularly strong bond with Schumacher, a near “father-and-son” relationship that insiders view as a major factor in Ferrari’s utter dominance of F1 in 1999-2004.

Todt took on new challenges in 2004 when he added the title of Managing Director for Ferrari’s production-car business, thus finally winning the executive post he had sought so long. Two years later, at age 60, he was elevated to CEO. Though busier than ever, Todt still gets things done with a rare drive and precision, whether it’s running the Scuderia, negotiating sponsorship deals, or overseeing a sales organization spanning four continents. Too much for one person? Apparently not for the ever-determined Jean Todt. And whatever else he may achieve, he has already earned a secure and honored place in Ferrari history.

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