Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Francesco Baracca, Enzo Ferrari, and the Prancing Pony

Italian veteran Enzo Ferrari liked to tell the story of how the prancing pony became his emblem. The black horse had been painted on the fuselage of the SPAD fighter flown by Francesco Baracca, Italian ace of aces, killed over the Montello in 1918. After winning a race in Ravenna in 1923 Baracca's father and mother congratulated him. The aviator's mother said, "Ferrari, why don't you put my son's prancing horse on your cars? It will bring you luck." He did, and it did.

Incidentally, Porsche has a similar emblem, but it's not connected to the Great War.  Stuttgart, the company's home base was founded in the 13th century as a horse farm. The company wanted to highlight its connection to the city.


  1. Replies
    1. You got me going on this one so I looked it up on Wikipedia; I know not the most elegant of sources but fast.
      Wiki says "It was in origin a site for breeding cavalry horses, the Old High German name stuotengarten meaning "mare" (as in, an estate for horse-breeding, as it "were stud-yard)."

  2. Why did Barraca's parents think the horse would bring anyone luck, given that Francesco got killed?
    More likely, Ferrari thought the association with an aristocratic family would be good marketing.

    1. WWI Pilot's life expectancy in combat was measured in days, 11 in 1915, 21 in 1918, and that was if they managed to live through flight school.

      (1/3 of all pilot casualties in WWI occurred in flight training).

      He survived as a pilot for 6 years, pre-war and during the war.