How Did Laura Ferrari Die?

Michael Mann’s biographical film ‘Ferrari’ opens a window into the tumultuous relationship between Enzo Ferrari, the founder of the Scuderia Ferrari motor racing team and the Ferrari automobile marque, and his wife Laura Ferrari. In the movie, Laura is an unignorable part of the operations of the company, especially while her husband immerses himself in his passion for racing and Lina Lardi, his lover. She sacrifices her personal life to ensure that her husband’s company doesn’t suffer a collapse. In reality, as the film depicts, Laura was heavily involved in the operation of Ferrari. Her death was a turning point in Enzo’s life as well!

Who Was Laura Ferrari?

Enzo and Laura met for the first time after the end of World War I in Turin, Italy. At the time, Enzo, aged 20, was working for an automobile company while the latter was working as a dancer. After meeting in 1921, they got married in 1923. The couple didn’t get to spend much time together after their marriage, as per Richard Williams, the author of ‘Enzo Ferrari: A Life.’ Enzo was immersed in building a racing team. He was a racing car driver for Alfa Romeo in the 1920s and Williams added that Laura was jealous of the women who surrounded her star husband.

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Laura became pregnant eight years after their wedding. Around the same time, Enzo also ended his career as a racing car driver. In 1932, the couple welcomed their son Alfredo, who was eventually known as Dino. While Laura was engaged in taking care of the little Dino, Enzo frequently visited his lover Lina Lardi in a town named Castelvetro di Modena. Dino died in 1956 after battling muscular dystrophy. The death of their son, as per Williams, severely affected the couple. Laura then started to oversee the operation of her husband’s company. Her involvement, however, wasn’t welcomed by the people who worked for Enzo.

According to Williams, eight senior managers complained about Laura to Enzo, only for the latter to fire all of them. Having said that, Laura did care about Ferrari. “Without asking him, she [Laura] pawned a wedding gift he gave her to build the first car because the 10 percent deposit, they didn’t have the money to buy the components,” director Michael Mann told Deadline. In the 1950s, she learned about Lina. “There is no question that at some point in the late 1950s, Laura Ferrari discovered her husband’s second life,” Brock Yates wrote in his biography of Enzo, ‘Enzo Ferrari: The Man, the Cars, the Races, the Machine,’ the source text of the film.

Before dying, as per reports, Laura made Enzo promise her that he wouldn’t publicly accept his and Lina’s son Piero as a Ferrari. Enzo kept his promise and proclaimed Piero as a Ferrari after Laura’s death, as the film depicts. “You can say you like the movie or not, but the story in this case is a real story — it’s really what happened,” Piero told the Los Angeles Times. However, Laura never demanded half a million for her shares in the company when Enzo started negotiations with Fiat as the film depicts, according to Williams.

Laura Ferrari’s Death

Laura Ferrari died in 1978. The cause of her death was a mystery even for Brock Yates. According to Richard Williams, she suffered from a “long illness.” She passed away at the age of seventy-eight, ending a marriage that lasted fifty-five years. “The cause of her [Laura’s] death, at age seventy-eight – a few weeks before Enzo Ferrari somberly celebrated his eightieth birthday – remains a mystery. It is known that she experienced great difficulty in walking during her later years,” Yates wrote in his book about her later years. The tail end of her life, Laura lived mainly in the Adriatic summer place where Enzo “found refuge on the weekends.”

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“[Laura] died as she had lived, an enigma in terms of her health and her true relationship with her husband. Surely her behavior had been erratic in the later years, and she had become a more private person who steadily slipped into the shadows as the years passed,” Yates added. Laura’s death severely affected Enzo. “In the end, he [Enzo] was saddened and depleted by her [Laura’s] loss, having long since accepted a marriage that was more a detente than a union of love. […] They had been lovers, partners, antagonists, co-conspirators, pals, enemies, rivals and embattled teammates through five decades of struggle that had seen them both rise out of the ruck of Italian lower-class life to major national prominence,” reads the biography.

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