Fact-Checking ‘Ferrari’: Accuracy and Fiction in Adam Driver’s Racing Film

Fact-Checking ‘Ferrari’: Accuracy and Fiction in Adam Driver’s Racing Film: Few names evoke as much reverence in the realm of auto racing as Ferrari. While enthusiasts might debate, bringing up contenders like Porsche, Mercedes, or Bentley, the legacy of Ferrari stands distinct.
Located in Maranello, Italy, the iconic Prancing Horse brand has solidified its esteemed reputation through numerous racing triumphs and iconic road vehicles. Yet, beyond the machinery lies a deeper legend, often shrouded in lore: the visionary behind it all, Enzo Anselmo Giuseppe Maria Ferrari, central to the narrative of “Ferrari.”

Fact-Checking 'Ferrari': Accuracy and Fiction in Adam Driver's Racing Film

Michael Mann’s movie doesn’t offer a comprehensive biography of Enzo Ferrari. Instead, it focuses on a pivotal and tumultuous period in 1957. During this time, Enzo, portrayed by Adam Driver, navigates financial troubles while managing the conflicting desires of his assertive wife, Laura (Penélope Cruz), and devoted mistress, Lina (Shailene Woodley).

To what extent does “Ferrari” adhere to historical accuracy? Drawing inspiration from auto writer Brock Yates’ 1991 biography, “Enzo Ferrari: The Man and the Machine,” the film captures the overarching narrative accurately. However, certain specific details merit further examination for accuracy.

“Enzo Ferrari: Fact or Fiction – Did He Truly Have a Mistress and Secret Son?”

Enzo Ferrari divided his attention between two women: his spouse, Laura Garello, whom he wed at 25 in 1923, and his mistress, Lina Lardi, whom he encountered in the late 1930s. Together with Laura, Enzo had a son named Alfredo, commonly known as Dino. Dino inherited his father’s fervor for automobiles and was poised to assume a prominent role within Ferrari. Tragically, he succumbed to muscular dystrophy complications at the age of 24 in 1956, a year preceding the timeline depicted in “Ferrari.”
Dino’s death rocked Ferrari, who named a now-famous sports car after his son. But while very few knew it at the time, Ferrari also had a son with Lardi: Piero, born in 1945. Italy’s then-strict laws prohibiting divorce resulted in Ferrari staying with Laura until her death in 1978, at which point he acknowledged Piero as his son. Today, Piero Ferrari, 78, is vice chairman of Ferrari.

Was Ferrari on the brink of collapse in 1957?

Enzo Ferrari’s love for automobiles began during his teenage years, leading him to a racing career with Alfa Romeo by the mid-1920s. By the 1930s, he transitioned from racing to overseeing the Alfa team, enhancing his expertise in both vehicles and racing talent. In 1947, he established his namesake company.
although Ferrari’s vehicles had garnered attention on racetracks, the company faced significant financial challenges. Despite producing luxury cars for an elite clientele, the limited production volume couldn’t offset the substantial expenses associated with maintaining a competitive racing team. In the film “Ferrari,” Enzo’s financial advisor presents a stark choice: either secure victory in the esteemed Mille Miglia road race—a challenging 1,000-mile circuit from northern Italy to Rome and back—or consider selling the company to stabilize finances.

“Did the Devastating 1957 Mille Miglia Car Crash Actually Occur?”

The pivotal event in “Ferrari” revolves around the renowned 1957 Mille Miglia race. Held 24 times over three decades, this race held immense significance for Italians, akin to a blend of the Super Bowl and Indianapolis 500 in importance. Triumphing in the Mille Miglia elevated racers to legendary status, including notable figures like Alberto Ascari and Stirling Moss (portrayed by Ben Collins).

However, the 1957 Mille Miglia marked a devastating end to the event’s legacy. Scuderia Ferrari’s Piero Taruffi (played by Patrick Dempsey) clinched victory. Yet, a tragic accident ensued involving Ferrari driver Alfonso de Portago (depicted by Gabriel Leone), resulting in the fatalities of his co-driver, Edmund Nelson, and nine spectators, including five children. In the aftermath, the Italian government promptly prohibited the Mille Miglia. It later resurfaced in 1977 as a rally exclusively for cars manufactured between 1927 and 1957, the original race years.

“Did Enzo Ferrari Truly Neglect His Iconic Road Cars?”

In the film “Ferrari,” Enzo Ferrari appears largely indifferent to his luxurious road cars and their affluent buyers. This demeanor is rooted in Ferrari’s origins as a race car driver and his unwavering commitment to crafting winning engines. To Ferrari, everything else, including the driver, often took a backseat to the machine’s performance.

Some iconic quotes ascribed to Ferrari include statements like, “I create engines and then fit wheels to them,” and “The customer isn’t always correct.” A popular tale suggests that Ferruccio Lamborghini, initially a tractor manufacturer, approached Ferrari with concerns about his car’s shortcomings. Allegedly overlooked by Ferrari, Lamborghini was inspired to establish his own automotive brand in response. Today, contemporary Ferrari road vehicles fetch prices ranging from $300,000 to over $1 million. However, the standout among them is the coveted 1960s 250 GTO, a model that can command prices soaring up to $70 million in auctions.

“When Did Enzo Ferrari Pass Away?”

Ten years after the tragic 1957 Mille Miglia, Ferrari’s financial challenges persisted despite a victory in the race. To address mounting debts and the escalating costs of motor racing, Ferrari made a pivotal decision: he sold 50% of his company to the prominent Italian automotive powerhouse, Fiat. This strategic move enabled Ferrari to retain control over his company while securing much-needed financial support, further cementing the team’s iconic legacy.

Until his final days, Ferrari maintained a close connection with his company. He passed away from leukemia in 1988 at the age of 90. Known for his deep privacy and almost always seen in his iconic dark sunglasses, Ferrari desired a private farewell, specifying a burial attended solely by family and requesting a delayed announcement of his passing. In a nod to his legacy, Ferrari introduced a premier sports car named the “Ferrari Enzo” in 2002. Presently, these vehicles command prices exceeding $3 million.

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