Niki Lauda

February 9, 2009 by  
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One of the few Formula One racers who bought their way into the sport, Nicholas Andreas Lauda was born in 1949 in Vienna. His father was a paper manufacturer who had managed to amass a fortune for his family – a fortune which Nicholas never saw. His family shunned his desire to be a racing driver and refused to support him in an effort to bring him to his senses. But Niki was strong-willed. He skipped university and borrowed money from various Austrian banks in order to get himself in the races. He started his career in 1968 in a Mini and before long was attempting to race Formula Vee and Formula Three. His early racing career was somewhat dismal and he often crashed – which was a problem since it meant he was one car less and had few winnings with which to repay the money he had borrowed.

In 1972, Niki Lauda bought his way into Formula Two and Formula One with yet another loan. The Marches were unsuccessful and not only did they leave him virtually bankrupt, but they didn’t help his reputation as a driver either. With no other qualifications to turn to, Niki was forced to keep racing. So, the following year he managed to make a deal with BRM which put him in the driver’s seat once more. Before long his results started improving and his true worth as a driver became evident. BRM offered him a new contract but instead he chose to buy his way out his contract with money from Enzo Ferrari who had also offered him a contract.

The following year found Lauda racing for Ferrari. Within his first year he garnered the nickname ‘The Computer’ and though he was doing well, he still made some costly mistakes. However, his saving grace for the year came in the form of two different Formula One victories. Over the next few years he enjoyed numerous victories around the world. Then, in 1976 his car suddenly crashed and burst into flames. He suffered third degree burns on his head and wrists as well as numerous broken bones and scorched lungs. Doctors gave him up for dead and he was even read his last rites by a priest. Somehow, Niki Lauda not only recovered, but he returned to racing just six weeks later. He finished fourth in the Italian Grand Prix – his first race since the accident – and his bandages were seeping blood by the end of the event. His comeback was hailed as the most courageous in sporting history. From that time forward, Niki always wore a red baseball cap to hide some of his facial disfigurements.

In 1978, after winning two championships, he proclaimed he was bored and he walked out on the sport to start his own airline. Though his airline did well he eventually found himself needing more money and so he returned to racing for this purpose. He signed a US$5 million contract with McLaren and won his final Grand Prix in 1985, after which he retired from the racing car cockpit for good. In 2008, American sports television network ESPN ranked him 22nd on their prestigious list of top drivers of all-time. Lauda will always be remembered for his startling recovery, his plucky attitude and his die-hard work ethic.

Ferrari

February 9, 2009 by  
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When we hear the name Ferrari, we immediately picture legendary drivers such as Niki Lauda, John Surtees, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher. However, there is more to Ferrari, than a successful racing team. When Enzo Ferrari established Scuderia Ferrari in 1929, he did not do so with road vehicles in mind. He wanted to be part of the racing world and by 1938, Enzo Ferrari headed up the Alfa Romeo racing department. During the war, Alfa Romeo became absorbed by the government in their war efforts, and the little division run by Enzo Ferrari passed by unnoticed. He was not permitted to participate in racing for a period of four years, but he nevertheless built the Tipo 815. In 1943 Enzo Ferrari moved his operations to Maranello, where it still remains today. After the factory was bombed in 1944, it was rebuilt, and included a division for the production of road vehicles, even though this was just to generate the money needed to fund Enzo’s passion for racing. The name Scuderia Ferrari, means Ferrari Stable, but is translated, in a figurative form, to mean Team Ferrari.

The 125S, is the very first road vehicle that Ferrari produced in 1947. Enzo disliked the fact that he was producing vehicles that people bought for prestige and not for how the car performed, but his vehicles continues to grow in popularity, becoming famous for their style, excellence and speed. Today, the rich and the famous ensure that they add a Ferrari to their collection as a status symbol.

The world famous Ferrari emblem has been a source of speculation. All badges have a prancing black horse on a yellow background. The letters SF (Scuderia Ferrari) appear on either side of the horse, with the national colors of Italy (Green, white and red) appearing at the top of the logo.

To know the naming of the Ferrari vehicles, will definitely make you an expert. Until the 1990’s, car engines were named on engine displacement. For example, the V6 and V8 car models were total displacements. That would mean that a 206 would be a 2.0 L V6 and a 348 would be a 3.4 L V8. Displacement is measured in deciliters. On the V12’s displacement is measured in cubic centimeters, of one cylinder, making the 365 Daytona, a 4380ccV12. Flat 12’s were in liters. Body style would also play an integral role in naming a car, and over the years the styles and names have changed, but the excellence and performance has remained top quality.

Working at the Ferrari Factory in Maranello, Italy, is the job of dreams. Even though workers are free to wear what they choose, you will not see anything but red. Workstations are decorated in Ferrari logos, racing team memorabilia and everyone works with a smile on their face. There are approximately 30 stations that a car visits before completion, and the production of a Ferrari is not rushed. State of the art machines will ensure a beautiful finish on a paint job, but installations of the custom made seats and dashboards are fitted by hand and installed to perfection. The engine shop produces approximately fifty engines a day, due to its fully automated production line, that employs close to a hundred staff. The automation ensures a decrease in mistakes, and a faster production line. The factory itself is a combination of the old meticulous ways, and the latest technology, incorporated in a relaxing, spacious working environment. The manufacturing of a Ferrari might be faster today, than in Enzo’s day, but the love, pride and the passion that goes into every Ferrari, remains unmatched.

Imola

February 9, 2009 by  
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Imola is a picturesque little town in the province of Bologna which can be found on the Santerno river in north-central Italy. For much of the year this ancient Roman settlement enjoys a charming tranquillity that lends itself to romantic getaways and leisurely holidays. Imola is best known for two things – it is the home of the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari and the San Marino Grand Prix. It also unfortunately known as the track where the legendary Ayrton Senna lost his life in 1994. Rubens Barrichello was also badly injured in that very same race.

The Formula One San Marino Grand Prix is named for the nearby independent republic of San Marino but it is held in Imola. The track as Imola was used for the 51st Italian Grand Prix in 1980 and became a regular home for the San Marino Grand Prix shortly afterwards. This Formula One championship race has been run at the Autodrome Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola since 1981. It was named for San Marino as there was already an Italian Grand Prix at the time. Since San Marino is too small to host a grand prix, the decision was made to use the track at Imola and name the Grand Prix after the republic.

Motoring enthusiasts are usually pleased to learn that the area surrounding Imola is home to a number of racing car manufacturers such as Ferrari, Lamborghini and Maserati. What’s more, a number of local roads have been linked together to form a test track for these manufacturers. This means that bystanders are often given the opportunity to see new and improved models in action as they are being tested on the public roads. Imola has a strong racing legacy and cars have been zipping around the area since 1954.

The first non-championship event with Formula One cars to be held here took place in 1963. However the racetrack at Imola really came into its own when, in 1980, the Italian Grand Prix was temporarily moved to Imola from Monza after a massive and tragic start line pile-up. The following year the Italian Grand Prix was moved back to Monza and the decision was made to launch the track in Imola as the San Marino Grand Prix. Though the track has been incredibly popular during the course of it’s racing career, recent accidents and deaths have brought up complaints of unsafe road-surfaces and other scruples. As a result the San Marino Grand Prix may soon end a long and successful period as a brilliant Formula One Grand Prix host.

The 2010 Italian Grand Prix will be held at Monza.