Ferrari’s prancing stallion emblem is easily one of the most recognized logos in the world. It stands for high performance, luxury and the iconic Italian racing culture, but the origin story of the prancing stallion comes from an even more impressive background.
In the skies above Italy during WW1 ruled Italy’s top fighter ace, Count Francesco Baracca. After his first victory against the Austrians in 1916, he painted the emblem of the prancing stallion, the cavallino rampante in Italian, on the side of his plane — a homage to his former cavalry regiment. Two years later towards the end of the war, Baracca had racked up an impressive 34 aerial victories. In 1918, “The Cavalier of the Skies” went on his last strike mission against the Austrians and never returned. The ace fighter is regarded as one of the highest scoring Allied pilots in the war, and though he was killed in action, the legacy of the cavallino rampante lived on.
In 1923, a 25-year-old aspiring racer named Enzo Ferrari had the chance to meet Francesco’s parents, Count Enrico and Countess Paolina Baracca. Ferrari described the encounter when the prancing stallion badge was bestowed to him:
“The horse was painted on the fuselage of the fighter plane of Francesco Baracca — a heroic airman of the first world war. 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 son’s 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.”