Experience Ferrari’s Early Racing Days with Ferrari: Race to Immortality

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Beautiful documentary showcases the glamour, danger & pedigree of Ferrari’s formative years in the 1950s.

Despite countless people knowing the name Enzo Ferrari and his famous cars, Enzo, the man, is still a character shrouded in a bit of mystery. Some described him as a dictator, others would say he’s compassionate, others may hint at a manipulator of minds, but all knew he had a passion for motorsport.

Ferrari: Race to Immortality begins with the covering of Ferrari‘s beginnings, and his chosen path of automobiles as a way to get through life. By Ferrari’s own words, passion was more important than the desire to succeed, and that would play out through his whole life.

Passion for motorsport was perfect for an Italian mindset, and of course in developing his early team members, he naturally selected drivers from Italy to pilot his machines. But that theory soon gave way to a different mindset on talent. The mid 50’s were the ultimate time for the playboy motorsport racer, and by happenstance, Ferrari’s choice of drivers would typically reflect this. It would come out that he had a disdain for any of his drivers “settling down” as it would take their focus away from the racing.

Of course the man himself saw things a different way when others accused him of running his racing team like a dictator. He says, “If by dictator you mean demanding from others the utmost commitment to their job they definitely have a point.” And yet the drivers that he picked were able to do just that, and this meshed with Enzo Ferrari’s persona incredibly well. Those drivers would stare death directly in the face and have a laugh while doing so.

Ferrari’s racing cars spanned both Formula 1 and international sports car racing back then, as they do today. But with a much shorter F1 schedule, drivers were able to compete in both series, and those drivers are exactly what this documentary focuses on. From Italy, Luigi Musso and Eugenio Castellotti. From Spain, Alfonso de Portago. And the highlight of the film, two extremely influential British drivers, Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn.

Ferrari Race to Immortality

Hawthorn was the first to team up with Ferrari in the 1955 season, but left for another team the year after, when Collins first got in with the team from Modena. It was the 1957 season when the two drivers were truly magical together driving cars with the prancing horse on the side, but things turned extremely tragic for the team throughout the 1957 and 1958 seasons. All five drivers that had been entrusted to win for the Team from Modena would lose their lives. Il Commendatore himself remarked, “the era of gentleman racing drivers is ended.”

With countless interviews from surviving family and fellow drivers, this documentary takes you intimately through the thrill and heartbreak of that era in motorsport. Video in both black & White and color takes you right to the heart of the action in all of the races, too. We also get to get a glimpse of the man behind the bright red race car.

Ferrari Race to Immortality Enzo Ferrari

Ferrari was also ruthless about business and getting on with the show. When Castolletti perished in a testing crash Modena, in F1 journalist Nigel Roebuck recounted Ferrari’s reaction:

Collins was in the office with Enzo Ferrari when the phone rang. It was with the news that Castellotti had been killed. The old man said “Oh no, no. Castellotti morto… e la macchina?”

Richard Williams, a biographer of Enzo Ferrari’s spoke of the softer side of the man in charge, recounting, “Peter Collins was one of the drivers that Enzo loved. He felt a real warmth toward him which he didn’t feel towards all his drivers by any means.” That may have been from the friendship struck by Collins and Enzo’s son, Dino Ferrari, who was terminally ill. Louise King, wife of Collins, pointed out why the connection was so important, saying, “my husband did a wonderful job of helping to communicate between the dying son, and Enzo.”

Enzo recounts the era, by saying, “I would say first and foremost that I did nothing other than what gave me pleasure. I just did something that mattered to me in a purely selfish way.” But the result of those actions produced drivers of un-rivaled talent and unrivaled lore. Doug Nye, a motorsport historian said of the five featured drivers, “these guys, they were warriors.” Now they are immortal.

Anyone who is a fan of Formula 1, sports car racing, or motorsport in general would do themselves a great deal to check it out. Ferrari: Race to Immortality is available On Demand from most providers, including Amazon, iTunes, Google Play, YouTube Movies, Cable and Satellite On Demand.

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Patrick Morgan is an instructor at Chicago's Autobahn Country Club and contributes to a number of Auto sites for Internet Brands, including MB World and 6SpeedOnline.

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