On this day in 2007, an around-the-world relay celebrating Italian sports car maker Ferrari’s 60th anniversary passes through Los Angeles, California. The relay began earlier that year, on January 28, in Abu Dhabi and continued on through 50 countries including Saudi Arabia, China, Japan, Australia, Mexico, America, Canada and Russia, before ending on June 23, 2007 at Ferrari headquarters in Maranello, Italy. Thousands of Ferrari owners and their cars participated at various points of the relay, serving as symbolic bearers of a relay baton featuring 60 badges representing key innovations in the luxury automaker’s history.
The relay was officially kicked off in January 2007 by Piero Ferrari, an executive at the company founded by his father Enzo. The elder Ferrari was born in Modena, Italy, on February 18, 1898 (although his birth wasn’t registered until two days later due to bad weather). Starting in 1920, he began racing cars for Alfa Romeo and later became head of the company’s racing division. After leaving Alfa Romeo in 1939, Ferrari went on to found his own manufacturing firm; during its early years, which coincided with World War II, the company built machine tools, not race cars. In 1947, the first Ferrari sports car, the 125 S, which featured a 1.5 liter, V-12 engine and a prancing stallion logo, made its debut. In the decades that followed, Ferrari earned a reputation for producing powerful, pricey sports cars and high-performance racing vehicles.
The company experienced one of its first major racing victories in 1949, when a Ferrari driven by Luigi Chinetti won the 24 Hours of Le Mans 24 Hour race. In 1951, Ferrari collected its inaugural Formula One win at the British Grand Prix. The next year, Ferrari driver Alberto Ascari won the Formula One World Championship. Ferrari would eventually become Formula One’s oldest and most successful team: As of 2009, Ferrari had collected 15 driver championships and 16 constructor championships, along with numerous other records. The list of drivers who have competed for Ferrari over the years includes Juan Manuel Fangio, Phil Hill, Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher (who won a record-setting seven driver world championships).
The final car to be developed under Enzo Ferrari’s leadership was the F40, which was introduced in 1987. Enzo Ferrari died on August 14, 1988, at the age of 90. The Ferrari brand continues to be a compelling one. In May 2009, at an auction held at Ferrari’s headquarters in Maranello, a black 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa sold for $12,402,500, setting a record for the most money ever paid for a car at a public auction.