Enzo and the Fighter pilot

The 70th year for the formula 1 World Championship is firmly in the record books. 17 races in only 23 weeks is a far cry from the inaugural season when only 7 races (including the Indy 500) made up the championship.

Many teams have come into and left Formula One, however one team has stood the test of time and been on the Formula 1 grid every year since 1950.

Formula 1 and Ferrari have begun the 71st year of their love affair, a love affair that has not always been smooth, but one that has stood the test of time, through anger, tradgey, excitement and passion.

In a new series we will look through the history of the most decorated team within Formula .

In this sneak peek, we take a look at the Ferrari’s iconic badge, il cavallino rampante or The Pancing Horse and how it ended up being part of the iconic brand.

THE PRANCING HORSE

In 1923, Enzo Ferrari was given a black prancing horse emblem from the parents of a decorated war hero, Francesco Baracca, his mother asking for Enzo to put the horse on his cars for luck.

This simple request, gave Enzo the idea for arguably the most iconic badge in the world.

It is difficult to imagine a more iconic badge

Count Francesco Baracca is a name that not many people will know, we look at his remarkable life and why he is so important to the Ferrari brand.

Francesco Baracca was born in Lugo di Romagna, Italy and the son of a wealthy landowner. In his younger days he studied at a private school before entering the Military Academy of Modena in October of 1907. He was a passionate equestrian, which led to him becoming a cavalryman with prestigious Piemonte Reale Cavalleria Regiment, upon his commissioning in 1910.

Francesco Baracca

During the course of his military service Francesco became interested in aviation, learning to fly at Reims, France, receiving his pilots licence on the 9th July 1912.

He served with the Battaglione Aviatori and in 1914 with the 5th and 6th Squadriglie.

With the outbreak of the first world war, Italy was in political turmoil, with Pro War and Pro Peace factions clashing in the months prior to Italy’s entry into the war. Baracca remained neutral, but ready to serve.

When Italy entered into the war in May of 1915, he was sent to Paris to convert to Nieuport two seaters, when he returned in July, he was assigned to the 8a Squadriglia Nieuport. These planes were woefully inept against Austro-Hungarian raids; they were too slow, with too slow rate of climb. The frustrated Italian pilots even left their observers behind in an effort to increase performance, to little avail.

“in ’23, I met count Enrico Baracca, the hero’s father, and then his mother, countess Paulina, who said to me one day, “Ferrari, put my sons prancing horse on your cars. It will bring you good luck.” The horse was, and still is black, and I added the canary yellow background which is the colour of Modena {Enzo’s birthplace}”

Legend has it that Enzo Ferrari told the story just once

With the new Nieuport 11 single seat fighter with Lewis guns, that entered service in April 1916, Baracca scored his first victory, holing the fuel tank of an Austrian Hansa-Brandenburg C.I and wounding the two-man crew. This was Italy’s first ariel victory in the war.

It was at around this point that Baracca adopted as a personal emblem, a black prancing horse on his Nieuport 17, in tribute to his former cavalry regiment.  This prompted some to call him “the Cavalier of the Skies”.  He flew the Nieuport 17 and then from March 1917, the SPAD VII, he scored both on his own and alongside other Italian Aces.

Francesco Baracca, with the famous stallion, leading to some calling Francesco “the Cavalier of the Skies”

Baracca’s victories made him nationally famous, it also allowed him to be promoted to Capitano, remaining with his unit, until, with 9 victories, he transferred to the newly formed 91st Squadriglia, Known as the Squadron of Aces.

Baracca was a sensitive and compassionate man, visiting his injured comrades and victims in hospital. If this was not possible, he would lay a wreath on the grave of the enemies that he had killed in battle.

Franccesco Baracca had amassed a total of 34 victories before failing to return from a strafing mission on 19th June 1918. His crashed plane and body were recovered a few days later after the Austro-Hungarian retreat.

Francesco Baracca is revered in Italy, with his home now a museum, displaying parts of his shot down plane, restored plane form his time in service. Roads, Airports and Airforce bases in Italy all share his name.

 A huge monument dominates the main square of his home town at Lugo di Romagna.

A beautiful shot of the monument to Francesco Baracca, the monument is located in his home town of Lugo di Romagna.

Enzo Ferrari was presented with Francesco’s prancing horse emblem, the Cavallino Rampante, this became the official symbol of the Scuderia Ferrari racing team since 1929 and of Ferrari automobiles since they began.