Luca Cordero di Montezemolo has worn many hats in the Italian automotive industry. While managing Scuderia Ferrari, he became the golden boy of Ferrari racing with two Formula 1 World Championship wins. He spent his later years as master and commander for Fiat, Maserati, and Ferrari.
Montezemolo was born in Bologna, Italy, to Massimo Cordero Dei Marchesi di Montezemolo, a Piedmontese aristocrat whose family had served the Royal House of Savoy for generations.
A strong student, Montezemolo graduated with a law degree from the University of Rome. He continued his studies in International Law at Columbia University in New York. He joined Ferrari, part of the conglomerate Fiat S.p.A., in 1973 to work closely with its visionary founder, Enzo Ferrari. Montezemolo would soon become manager of Scuderia Ferrari, the company’s racing team. There was no job more important within the company.
To Signore Ferrari, winning was the purpose of his company. Building road cars was necessary to fund the racing effort.
By 1975, with Montezemolo running the team, Ferrari was again at the top of Formula 1, winning World Championship in 1975 and 1977. Sales of road-going Ferraris began to rise, which supported the racing effort. The reward? Montezemolo was given a sequence of increasingly important roles within the Fiat organization.
With Mr. Ferrari’s passing in 1988, the company began a slow decline. Fiat chairman Gianni Agnelli responded and appointed Montezemolo president and chairman of Ferrari in 1991. Realizing that Ferrari’s prominence in Formula 1 must be restored in order to support sales, the challenge was clear. Without success in racing, Ferrari was vulnerable. And without new car sales, Ferrari racing was in trouble.
Under his guidance, new technologies developed on the track led to stunning new road cars while powering Ferrari to eight Formula 1 Constructor’s World Championships between 1999 and 2008. Demand for these new Ferrari road cars was fueled by Formula 1 success while the allure of limited availability, hand-built special vehicles like the F50, Enzo and 599 GTB further increased Ferrari brand cachet.
The best example of the successful fusion of beauty, technology, performance and rarity is Montezemolo’s triumphant finale, the LaFerrari. This remarkable accomplishment boasts the most extreme performance ever achieved by a Ferrari production car and features the most advanced and innovative technical solutions which will, in the future, filter down to rest of the Ferrari range.
Upon hearing the news that he had been inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame, Montezemolo announced he would dedicate his award to his friend, Michael Schumacher, a seven-time world champion, who won an unprecedented five consecutive titles with Ferrari. Montezemolo indicated that he never would have received induction into the Automotive Hall of Fame without the indomitable spirit, brilliant intellect, and unique driving skills of Schumacher, who won 91 Grand Prix, including 72 victories for Ferrari.
“I would like to dedicate the award to the wonderful and competent people with whom I worked in Maranello, sharing the enthusiasm, the affection and the passion we all hold for racing. However, at this time, as everyone will understand, I want to specifically dedicate it to Michael who is fighting his hardest race.”