When I met Enzo Ferrari

Today marks the start of a series of articles telling of the many famous names of the car world that I have had the honour and pleasure of meeting throughout my professional life. And who to start with, if not the Man himself: Enzo Ferrari.

Photos by Luigi Marmiroli Archive

Courtesy of Archivio Ferrari

Rivers of ink have been used to write about Ferrari, and in future who knows how many millions of words will be devoted to him on the web. Here I don’t want to add anything to his official biography, but I would like to share some memories of the time I spent working in the “Gestione Sportiva”, the Racing Department of Ferrari Automobili, soon after graduating.

Due to some unfathomable twist of fate, I was born on a farm very close to where, in 1972, the Fiorano Race Track was built and where, having completed my studies, I found myself working soon after it was inaugurated.

In the centre of the track there was a small building, right next to the famous house with red shutters, where Ferrari often went for a siesta after lunch. The emergency vehicles were housed here, on the ground floor, and there were two rooms on the first floor. Ferrari had called this place the “Studies Office”; a forerunner of the “think-tank”, where the future road and racing cars were designed.

I had just graduated from the University of Padua, and I began to work in a factory that produced spare parts for tracked vehicles, but when I was called for an interview at Ferrari I literally fled that company.

Entering the room where the “Great Old Man” was, I was a bag of nerves. Ferrari was half a century older than me. As he invited me to sit down in a chair in front of his very modest desk, I instantly thought of all the famous drivers, politicians, actors and even royals who had sat in that chair before me.