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Enzo Ferrari (mi.) dedicated his whole life to his sports cars and his drivers. © Archivio Giorgio Nada Editore/Fondo Franco Villani

Even people who are critical of the automobile know his name: Enzo Ferrari. After all, they say, he was “one of the most famous Italians after Leonardo da Vinci”. Today, Ferrari is a global brand. But the myth surrounding the red racers from Maranello owes much to Enzo Ferrari, who loved racing since early childhood. He was also called “the madman” because he drove through the city in racing cars. The Cavallino Rampante, the rearing horse against a yellow background, Ferrari’s company emblem, became world famous and the best drivers of their time such as Alberto Ascari, Phil Hill and Niki Lauda sat at the wheel of Ferrari’s racing cars. The documentary “Enzo Ferrari – A Story of Passion and Death” describes not only the racing successes that shaped Enzo’s life and the company’s history, but also numerous human losses. Using autobiographical documents and previously unpublished archive footage, Enrico Cerasuolo’s film paints a fascinating portrait of the man behind the myth, Enzo Ferrari.

Enzo Ferrari came from Modena. His father owned a small iron foundry there. The whole family was passionate about cars and car racing. As a young man, Enzo tried in vain to get a job at Fiat, and so he initially made a living with odd jobs in the automotive industry. Through a friend who is a test driver for the Milanese car manufacturer “Costruzioni Meccaniche Nazionali” (CMN), he gets a job as a racing driver at CMN. In 1919 Enzo drives his first road race, a year later he takes second place in the Targa Florio. From 1920 he drives for Alfa Romeo. In 1929 he founds his own racing team in his home town of Modena, the “Scuderia Ferrari”, for which he wins outstanding drivers such as Tazio Nuvolari and Alberto Ascari as well as some of the best engineers. With his racing team he breaks international records. From 1932 onwards, Enzo Ferrari himself no longer raced; the dancer Laura Garello and he became parents of a son. The first racing car developed entirely by Ferrari, the Alfa 158, was built in 1937. After the Second World War, this car wins two world championships for Alfa Romeo. During the Second World War, the factory is moved to Maranello in the outskirts of Modena, where it still stands today.

Enzo Ferrari’s life was marked by successes, but also by great suffering: his father died early, his brother was killed in the First World War, his son Dino died at the age of 24 as a result of muscular dystrophy. Several drivers from his racing team, including Gilles Villeneuve and Wolfgang Berghe von Trips, also had fatal accidents at the wheel of his cars. But despite this tragedy, he held on to his passion for the rest of his life. On 14 August 1988, Enzo Ferrari died at the age of 90 at his home in Modena.

The story is told – often from Enzo’s perspective – of the irresistible magic and futuristic dream of speed, of the heroism of the racing drivers as “messengers of bravery and daring” (as in the case of Tazio Nuvolari), of the tingling flair of the races and the deadly danger. Rarely are successes and strokes of fate so close together, are family, racing and company history so closely intertwined as at Ferrari. Enzo Ferrari – A Story of Passion and Death will be shown on 11 December at 10.30 pm on Arte. The documentary is available in the media library until 9 January 2023.

Also on 11 December, immediately afterwards at 23.25, another pioneer of automobile history will be presented under the title “Bugatti – Intoxicated by Speed”. To this day, the name and the brand Bugatti stand for speed and legends of automobile design. Behind them is a family of obsessives and artists, each of whom found their own medium of expression for their passion, inventiveness and creativity. The documentary by André Schäfer and Oliver Bätz tells the story of Ettore Bugatti and his family, which – despite or because of its chequered history between rise and fall – like Ferrari is still a myth today. Father Carlo Bugatti was a painter, designer and architect and designed extravagant furniture for Europe’s royal houses at the end of the 19th century. He initially had different plans for his sons Ettore and Rembrandt: Ettore was to become an artist and Rembrandt an engineer. But things turned out differently: Ettore constructed masterpieces of engineering, while his brother Rembrandt, who took his own life during the First World War, created spectacular sculptures, especially animal sculptures cast in bronze. Finally, Ettore’s son Jean designed and built one of the most beautiful and the most valuable car in the world today – the Atlantic.

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