The next race took place in November 1919 – CMN management sent Sivocci and Ferrari to Sicily to participate in the Targa Florio, a murderous race organized by the great local magnate Vincenzo Florio.
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The factory couldn’t afford to send performance cars to Sicily by rail or truck, so competitors had to go there on wheels. In 1919, the journey to the south of Italy had nothing to do with today’s banality: not only did the snow storms have to be confronted, but the competitors were attacked by a pack of wolves, who chased Ferrari away by firing a pistol that hid was among the sitting with them.
There were four laps of 108 kilometers each on the race course, over bumpy, twisty roads. Enzo went as fast as he could. The vibrations broke the fuel tank and they lost a lot of time to repair together with the mechanic (who was always with the driver at the time). In one of the towns, the noisy and primitive CMN car was stopped by a carabiner. The Italian Prime Minister spoke in the square and passage was prohibited.
The furious Ferrari waited impatiently, and when the road opened up, it drove like crazy. Unfortunately, the finish was as good as closed. Rather than accepting defeat politely, Enzo Ferrari, a newcomer to racing, found Mr Florio and scolded him for his dishonest organisation. In the end, it was considered ninth overall and third in class. Somewhat reassured, he knew that the humble CMN was no match for the refined Fiats and Peugeot cars. He had to look for a better car.
Temporarily he started with the mighty pre-war Isotta-Fraschini; we don’t know how he could afford such a car. Shortly after, however, he began collaborating with Alf Romeo, which would last nearly twenty years. It is not known exactly how this adventure started. He would have bought a car, but for what.
Winning the first race in Ravenna strengthened Enzo Ferrari’s position
Lifelong manipulation with the facts of his own biography, Enzo never explained it honestly. Forget it. After that, he fell in the favor of engineer Giorgio Rimini and somehow ended up in the Alfa Romeo drivers’ group. However tall (approx. 180 cm) Enzo did, in October 1920 he was at the start of the Targa Florio race behind the wheel of a pre-war Alfa Romeo in a team led by Giuseppe Campari, a gifted opera singer and then a old friend of Enzo.
The Campari started in a fast and agile car suitable for Grand Prix racing, while the Enzo started in the more road and stable Alfa Romeo Tipo 40-60. And as it turned out at the finish, the theoretically slower car, equipped with huge fenders that protected the driver and his mechanic from mud and stones, achieved a better result. Campari had to retire and Enzo Ferrari reached the finish in second place overall. For the Italian, who constantly remembers his own not-too-noble origins, it was a huge success, which gave him a lot of confidence.
Enzo plunged into a whirlwind of various activities. He participated, brought in Alfa Romeo Sivocci, spied on Fiat technology, eventually started his own company called Carrozzeria Emilia and somehow became the exclusive distributor of Alfa Romeo cars in the Emilia Romagna region.
Ugo Sivocci at the Targa Florio race photo by Alfa Romeo
He went deeper and deeper into the internal policy of the factory, where the technical talents were lacking to measure the technical lead of Fiat and Peugeot. Although Campari, Ferrari, Sivocci and Antonio Ascari belonged to the sports team, the cars did not perform well in the competition. Ferrari went deeper and deeper into the structure of the company, going to the Paris auto show and seeing the regular Brooklands track during his visit to England. His opinion was taken into account and the success of 1923 also helped to strengthen his position. Ferrari and engineer Ramponi won the insignificant Circuito del Savio race in Ravenna. Well, the fact that the competition was weak, they won. It mattered.
Enzo Ferrari claimed he persuaded Vittorio Jano to betray Fiat
Alfa’s sports division built the first real Grand Prix car, which would make its debut at the Monza race. A moment earlier, Enzo had lured Bazzi’s engineer to Portello, Alfa Romeo’s headquarters, taking advantage of his dispute with Fiat management. The day before the race, a crowd of participants were training on the track and during one of the laps, Sivocci fell off the track and died on the spot.
The broken Alfa team withdrew from the competition in which their P1 model did not stand a chance anyway. On his return, there was a serious mood, and then Luigi Bazzi suggested that Fiat had an ultra-gifted young engineer, Vittorio Jano, and that he should be lured to Portello with a little effort.
Enzo maintained throughout his life that it was he who persuaded Jano to betray Fiat, but historians believe that Jano pursued the high liar and allowed himself to be persuaded by Rimini, because he wanted to talk to someone of the right rank. But the truth is, he moved to Portello and turned the average P1 racer into a masterpiece called P2 in record time.
Alfa Romeo factory in Portello photo by Alfa Romeo
The fortunes of the Alfa Romeo racing team had changed: they finally had the right tools at their disposal. Ferrari has officially joined the team alongside Campari and Ascari. It was he who, due to the failure of Campari’s car, won the Coppa Acerbo in July 1924 with the slower and heavier Tipo RL / TF. Sportingly speaking, the win was again not a big achievement, and neither was the title Cavaliere left and right, but over time Enzo exaggerated the importance of these events.
Ferrari withdrew from European GP for fear
The team took him to France as an official team member at the European GP in Lyon, but after a few practice sessions, Enzo boarded the train and returned home. He himself apologized with exhaustion, ill health, but a brave journalist dared to say that Ferrari was just wasting away: his skills did not match the pace of the leading competitors and the track itself was full of dangerous places.
After this event, Enzo Ferrari stopped actively racing behind the wheel and mainly spent time on his own company, expanding it and setting up new showrooms. During the same period, Alfa Romeo also stopped sporting activities after the exceptional Antonio Ascari was killed in a race in France.
After a hiatus, Enzo returned to racing in 1927. He even did well and was in a good mood. King Victor Emmanuel gave him the title of “Commendatore” for his thirtieth birthday (a title without any practical significance, but exaggerated over time in biographies), his exclusive rendering of Alfa Romeo did very well, covering three regions of Italy and developed rapidly under Fascist rule. He was not short of women.
Benito Mussolini admires the tank photo: Wikimedia Commons
A great program of public works ensured short-term economic development, Italy started a great program to convince the nation to accelerate reproduction, developed militaristic currents, Alfa Romeo began to produce trucks and aircraft engines. It was in this atmosphere that motorsport blossomed, and in Italy the whole country was passionate about it.
In 1929 the Societa Anonima Scuderia Ferrari racing stable was founded
Large road racing marathons attracted thousands of enthusiasts eager to see automotive gladiators. Motorsports were ideal for spreading fascist propaganda. Events such as Targa Florio and Mille Miglia received official state support.
Still hanging out in trendy pubs, Enzo met two interesting people. Alfredo Caniato, a manufacturer of textiles and jute articles, bought a fresh Alfa from Mr. Ferrari, and Mario Tadini of Bologna, who did not have to work because he had inherited a huge fortune as complete amateurs tried to participate in races. Enzo Ferrari convinced them that with his connections in Portello, Pirelli at Bosch or Shell he would organize a real racing stable, which would also attract professional drivers. Of course with money from investors.
And so in 1929 Societa Anonima Scuderia Ferrari was founded. The brothers Caniato and Tadini invested the largest resources in the company, smaller, but still significant Ferrari itself, symbolic shares became the property of Alfa Romeo and Pirelli. It should be noted that at the same time, the Great Depression began all over the world and traditional Italian car brands such as Diatto and Itala disappeared from the market.