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The Enzo Ferrari
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Ferrari
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Enzo Ferrari

The Ferrari of the Scuderia years was very much the hands on team manager quite unlike the Ferrari of later years when he did not attend any of the races and was given information over the telephone and in reports from his employees. Ferrari continued to be successful after he stopped attending the races but it is not hard to imagine that in this separation from his team were the seeds of Ferrari’s future decline.
Entrance and Facade of the Ferrari Factory in Maranello
Workers Assembling Car Motors in the Ferrari Factory

Many Workers Operating Machinery at the Ferrari Factory

After the war Ferrari set out to create his own Grand Prix car and in 1947 a 1.5-liter Tipo125 entered the Grand Prix of Monaco. The car was designed by his old collaborator Gioacchino Colombo. Ferrari’s first Grand Prix victory came in 1951 at the British Grand Prix in the hands of Argentine Froilan Gonzalez. The team had a chance for a World Championship evaporate at the Spanish Grand Prix. Before the most important race in the young team’s history Ferrari decided to experiment with new Pirelli tires. The result was thrown treads, which allowed Fangio to win the race and his first title.

Scuderia FerrariProduction sports cars were also an important endeavor for Ferrari but in marked difference with other car manufacturers, racing was not used to sell more cars, rather cars were sold so that the team could go racing! Many of the cars that were sold were last year’s models to private entrants. Ferrari was not a sentimental person when it came to his cars and those that were not sold were turned to scrap or scavenged for parts. Ferraris would become common feature at all major sports car events including Le Mans, the Targa Florio and the Mille Miglia. It was at the Mille Miglia that Ferrari would claim some of its greatest victories.

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In 1948 Nuvolari already in bad health was scheduled to drive a Cisitalia but the car was not ready in time. Ferrari gave him a car intended for Count Igor Troubetzkoy, an open Ferrari 166C. Nuvolari realizing that his body was failing him drove as if the devil himself was in pursuit. By the time the field reached Ravenna, Nuvolari was already in the lead. Despite losing his fender and later the engine bonnet nothing could stop the "Flying Mantuan". By the time he reached Florence he was more than have an hour ahead of Ferrari’s normal lead driver. The seat had come lose from his car to be replaced by a sack of oranges and still he drove on driving faster and faster. Some in the crowd began to fear that the "Great Little Man", knowing that time was running out was determined to die behind the wheel. Ferrari at one of the last control stops saw the state of his driver and with tears in his eyes begged his friend to stop. For even though they had at various times been at each other’s throats each understood the other. Nuvolari was the last driver that could look Ferrari in the eye as an equal. Finally at Reggio Emilia what no competitor could ever accomplish, Nuvolari was beaten by a broken spring. Exhausted he had to be carried from his car.

Enzo Ferrari F1 Grand PrixDuring the 1952-53 seasons there was a shortage of Formula 1 cars so the World Championship would be staged for Formula 2 cars. The Ferrari Tipo 500 would dominate the championships both years. In the hands of double World Champion Alberto Ascari Ferrari would win 9 races. For 1954 Ascari left Ferrari and joined Lancia where he would drive one of the the Jano-designed D50s. Lancia's hopes for a title were dashed first when the car was late in arriving and fatally when Ascari died testing a Ferrari sportscar. Lancia was forced to withdraw and Fiat their parent company turned over all of Lancia's cars over to Ferrari also including their designer Vittorio Jano! Ferrari's next challenge came from the new British teams.

Guy Vandervell supplied Ferrari with the special ThinWall bearings that were used in all of their engines. Vandervell had been a part of the BRM group but quit in disgust. After purchasing and racing a pair of Ferrari's he built his own cars that eventually beat the Italian cars. It was only by outlasting the Vanwalls, as the cars were named was Ferrari able to climb back on top. But this was only the beginning of the British invasion. These manufacturers did not produce their own engines but concentrated on chassis design and aerodynamics, areas of traditional weakness for Ferrari. During this period Ferrari began to produce his famous Gran Turismo car in conjunction with Battista "Pinin" Farina. Victories at Le Mans and other long distance races made Ferrari famous the world over.

Chris Amon in Ferrari during 1967 Italian Grand PrixThe demands of producing winning sportscars and Grand Prix cars was proving to much for the relatively small company. In the sixties John Surtees the 1964 World Champion in a Ferrari would complain that Ferrari’s involvement in sports car racing was hindering its Formula One efforts. Surtees explains "At Ferrari in those days you started with a handicap. Until Le Mans was over you couldn't really do the work you wanted to do - and needed to do - in Formula One."

In 1969 Ferrari faced severe financial strains. Their cars were still much sought after but they were unable to produce enough to meet the demand and maintain their racing program. To their rescue came Fiat and the Agnelli family. Ferrari was still the man in charge but a new paymaster was on board.

It was against this background of Fiat's manufacturing and aerospace empire that Ferrari was criticized for not dominating their smaller British rivals but another genius, Colin Chapman was at his peak.