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Enzo Ferrari was a racing driver who founded the Italian sports car manufacturer bearing his name. Ferrari cars are generally seen as a symbol of luxury and wealth.
He was born Enzo Anselmo Ferrari on February 18, 1898, in Modena, Italy. His father, Alfredo Ferrari, had a metal business. At the age of 10 Enzo saw several car races in the 1908 Circuit di Bologna, and he decided to become a race car driver. He received little formal education, and in his youth during WWI he was shoeing mules during his assignment to the Alpine Artillery division of the Italian Army. Both his father and brother died in 1916 as a result of Italian flu outbreak and the family business collapsed.
Ferrari himself became severely ill during the 1918 flu epidemic which he barely survived, and was discharged from Italian service. He applied for a job at Fiat, was turned down and eventually got a job as a test driver at a small car-maker named CMN. In a 1919 race at the Targa Florio he finished ninth. With the help of his friend Ugo Sivocci he got a job with Alfa-Romeo in 1920, and had success as a racing driver. In 1923, young Ferrari won the Circuit of Sivocci at Ravenna. There, he acquired the legendary ace pilot Francesco Baracca's WWI pilot badge, a prancing horse on a yellow shield. This icon would have to wait until 1932 to be displayed on a racing car.
Enzo Ferrari's greatest victory was at the 1924 Coppa Acerbo at Pescara, with an Alfa Romeo R.L. That and many more successful races made Ferrari a recognized name. In 1925 Benito Mussolini seized power in Italy and established a totalitarian fascist regime that sponsored an aggressive nationalism as a mimic of the Roman Empire. The name of a winning driver, like Ferrari, was used as one of many propaganda tools. He was awarded the Cavaliere dell'ordine della Corona d' Italia and was promoted to the rank of Commendatore. In Mussolini's eyes Ferrari had won all his races for Italy. In reality it was the only job Ferrari could do.