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The most famous constructor in motor racing history originally had ambitions as a racing driver himself. The son of a structural engineer, Enzo Ferrari suffered ill-health as a child and was hospitalised during World War I but recovered to start a new career in 1919.
Career as a racing driver
His ambitions wavered between opera, journalism and motor racing when growing up but it was the latter that won out. Ferrari was a test driver for Costruzini Mecchaniche Nazional and he raced for the concern in the 1919 Targa Florio.
He then drove in a works Alfa Romeo 20/30 in the following year’s race but was delayed early on. Undaunted, he closed on Guido Meregalli’s leading Nazzaro but he had to be content with a gallant second place finish.
Continuing with Alfa Romeo in 1921, he was fifth in the Targa Florio and second on the Circuito di Mugello. Ferrari’s first major victory was the 1923 Circuito del Savio near Ravenna after leading from the start against an admittedly limited field. His reward that day was a shield emblazoned with a prancing horse that would later become the logo for his team.
That victory was repeated in 1924 when beating a young Tazio Nuvolari there and at Polesine. He also won the inaugural Coppa Acerbo at Pescara but Ferrari’s hoped for Grand Prix debut in the French GP did not materialise when forced to withdraw through illness.
The start of Scuderia Ferrari
Ferrari’s true skills lay in organising others and when Alfa Romeo withdrew its works team it entrusted the newly formed Scuderia Ferrari with factory blessing in 1929. His days as a racing driver finally ended in 1932 after the birth of his son Dino but the new team represented Alfa Romeo throughout the 1930s. Ferrari turned constructor in its own right in 1946 and the rest, as they say, is history.