Ferrari (NYSE:RACE), the History if its Iconic ‘Prancing Horse’ Badge
If you flew European skies during the WWI, 1 logo struck fear in the hearts of the enemy.
Painted on the side of Count Francesco Baracca’s SPAD XIII fighter plane was a prancing red stallion. The red stallion was lifted from the Baracca’s Family Crest.
As a legendary professional of Italy’s air force, Count Baracca proved to be an inspiration to young Italian men.
Depicting his ‘prancing horse’ upon the wings of various aircraft, with its tail pointed downwards as a symbol of courage, the pilot Count claimed 34 victories, and sending dozens of aviators to the grave before being shot down himself on 19 June 1918.
Count Baracca’s exploits and untimely death developed a champion’s mantra, eventually declared a national hero his symbol of victory was adopted by many pioneering Italians including one Enzo Ferrari. And Enzo added his personal touch.
The original ‘prancing horse’ was painted red upon a white background, with subsequent plane-markings draped in back as a mark of respect for fallen aviators.
Enzo Ferrari adapted this to incorporate a yellow backdrop, the color of his birthplace: Modena.
Enzo Ferrari’s adoption of the horse did not stem from pure appreciation. His association with the symbol stemmed from well before his days crafting culture’s iconic sports cars. The pairing first sparked when Enzo was racing for Alfa Romeo on 17 June 1923.
Having posted several victories for Alfa, Enzo Ferrari was introduced to Count Baracca’s parents.
And, speaking with Countess Paolina Baracca, the mother of the young Count, she suggested Ferrari should adopt her son’s prancing horse symbol, and sport the mark as a symbol of good luck
Ferrari agreed and, 9 years later in Y 1932, the 1st sighting of Baracca’s badge was seen on the Alfa Romeos of Enzo’s Scuderia during the Spa Grand Prix, bringing him a 1st and 2nd place for his racing team on the day.
Alfa withdrew from racing the following year due to financial difficulties.
As time went on and Ferrari left Alfa Romeo to start his own team after World War II, the prancing horse gained prominence across the country. The logo even found stance upon the grill of Alfa Romeo’s 1935 Bimotore.
Due to contractual obligations with Alfa Romeo, Enzo Ferrari could not use his Ferrari name or the prancing horse on any of his racers for a 4 year frame.
Enzo’s determination during WWII insured the Ferrari name was soon to be known globally in motor-sports.
The 1st model considered a ‘true Ferrari’ with that prancing horse up front was the 1947 Ferrari-built 12-cylinder Tipo 125S. Debuting during the 1948 Italian Grand Prix, the Ferrari logo now featured a flaring tail, slimmer silhouette and trimmed mane.
The photo above is me with 125S recently
To my knowledge, Enzo Ferrari spoke only 1 time about the origins of his the iconic mark.
“In ‘23, I met Count Enrico Baracca, the hero’s father, and then his mother, countess Paulina, who said to me day, ‘Ferrari, put my son’s prancing horse on your race cars. It will bring you good luck’. The horse was, and still is, black, and I added the canary yellow background which is the color of Modena.”
It was on the 125S that the logo’s form changed from a shield, as worn during the Alfa Romeo days, and into a rectangle.
The letters ‘S’ and ‘F’ (Scuderia Ferrari) were replaced with ‘Ferrari’. The marque was born, with the resulting saga consigned to some of humanity’s most celebrated events.
The rest is history.
Ferrari today is the world’s #1 automotive brand, it is an Aristocrat, my association goes back over 50 years.
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