Ferrari History

Scuderia Ferrari

Ferrari and others started Scuderia Ferrari in 1929.
Ferrari and others started Scuderia Ferrari in 1929.

Those horizons came into focus one evening in 1929, as Ferrari dined with driver Mario Tadini and enthusiasts and fiber merchants Alfredo and Augosto Caniato. The men decided to start the Scuderia Ferrari, a company composed of driver-owners that prepared cars for competition and offered support for the owners who raced them.

The firm’s favored mounts were Alfa Romeos. Ferrari remained tightly woven with engineers Jano and Luigi Bazzi, men he helped recruit to the company. This helps explain how he was able to get top-flight racing machinery for his clients.

“The original idea was to make the Scuderia a team of owner drivers, but eventually it acquired an official team of professional drivers,” Ferrari explained. “Alfa Romeo never saw [it] as a competitor and there was no hint of a future rivalry. The way Alfa saw it, the Scuderia offered it a chance to enter lots of races and maintain a racing image despite no longer wanting to be directly involved.”

That was clearly demonstrated in 1933, when Alfa Romeo announced its withdrawal from Grand Prix racing and Ferrari convinced the firm to let him continue racing their formidable P3 single-seater. The Scuderia subsequently won the Grand Prix of Pescara that year.

Even more telling was Ferrari’s success in endurance racing, a highly visible activity thanks to the backing of Mussolini’s Fascist government and its desire to promote road and railroad construction.

In 1930, Ferrari’s Scuderia entered 22 races and scored eight victories. At 1933’s Mille Miglia, Alfa Romeos swept the top 10 places, led by an 8C 2300 prepared by Ferrari.

To differentiate his Alfas from the others, Ferrari in 1932 began painting on his cars a large crest that featured a prancing horse on a yellow background. Ferrari said he was given the crest by Countess Paolina Baracca, whose son, Francesco, had served in the same WWI flying squadron as Ferrari’s brother, Alfredo. The visage of a rearing black horse (the symbol of the city of Stuttgart) was said to have come from a German fighter plane the ace Baracca had shot down. Ferrari gave it the background of yellow, the official color of Modena.

The distinctive Ferrari crest. The distinctive Ferrari crest.
The distinctive Ferrari crest.

By the mid 1930s, Ferrari was a well-known name in the auto industry. “[He] had become a celebrity, something of a sensation,” historian Luigi Orsini noted in Automobile Quarterly, “more so certainly as an organizer than he ever was as a racing river.”

This was all the more remarkable, given the turmoil of the times. Hostility between nations was escalating, and the Wall Street crash of 1929 inflicted global economic pain. “You have to understand the period to [grasp] the enormity of what Ferrari accomplished,” Frenchman Rene Dreyfus, a noted former Scuderia driver, told Orsini.

“There had never been anything like the team he had, never anything that big and so well organized -- and the problems: the interference from the Fascists, the sensitivity of relations with Alfa, the personality problems and rivalries within the team.

“Yet despite all this there was no doubt he was the ‘Boss’ -- and the only Boss. If you raced for Mercedes or Auto Union or even the Alfa works team, you raced by committee. The Scuderia was his dream. He was the whole thing.”

Ferrari tempered this air of authority with a certain charm. Sergio Scaglietti was a teenager who repaired Ferrari’s Alfas by working at a small coachbuilding facility across the street from the Scuderia, and he vividly recalled Enzo’s magnetism. Tall and large boned for an Italian, Ferrari was quite handsome and simply had presence.

“Even back then,” Scaglietti remembered, “he had a lot of charisma and was never nasty with the people who worked for him. Having said that, I have to say none of us foresaw the success he achieved later.”

The Alfa Romeo romance wouldn't last, however. In the next section, learn about Ferrari's split from Alfa Romeo and the first Ferrari ever built.

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