For twenty-eight years the Ferrari Challenge has been the world’s most famous one-make championship, with various attempts at imitation. The story began a few years earlier, however, with the first requests from customers to use their cars on the track, possibly competing in real races. One of Ferrari’s greatest strengths has always been its focus on taking care of its customers by attempting to meet as many of their needs as possible. Hence, the idea of a new format: the Ferrari Challenge.
Autumn 1992, Mugello track. The Ferrari Challenge was officially presented. It made its debut with the car that became the star of the series, the 348 Challenge, in the TB and TS versions. Scuderia Ferrari F1 driver, Jean Alesi, was the exceptional godfather to the new Prancing Horse racing car. Once again, the Maranello-based company drew on its past to create a new future. It decided to equip the 348 as standard with a kit that, in line with the tradition of allowing road cars to be converted into racing versions, once removed, returned the car to its original configuration.
The kit comprised a roll cage, six-point safety harnesses, 18” magnesium wheels, a fire extinguisher, front and rear tow hooks, and an electric circuit breaker. The 348 Challenge’s engine unleashed 320 hp, 20 or so more than the road version. The brakes too were boosted.
The Italian series was first to debut, with its opening round kicking off at Monza on 28 March. Paolo Rossi won the first-ever Ferrari Challenge Trofeo Pirelli race in car no. 5, an almost fluorescent 348. Roberto Ragazzi triumphed in Race-2 before eventually going on to become the Ferrari Challenge’s first champion at the end of the season.
There are many anecdotes about the preparations for the inaugural race. However, the one that stands out is about the cars of the Sa.Mo.Car dealership, driving up the motorway from Rome to Monza, and even mounting number plates to do so.
The first round of the European series, on the other hand, took place at Magny-Cours, just a week later and both races were dominated by Bernd Hahne, brother of 1970s Formula 1 driver, Hubert. The German also won the first European title and triumphed in the Finalissima at Mugello.
You can also relive the story of this special year through the official podcast “The Origins of a Legend” on Spotify.