Imola and its inhabitants are the perfect example that the region of Romagna has the sound of motors in its ears and also running through its blood. In the post-war period racing fans improvised the first races along the town streets, with much enthusiasm and very little money.
The big change came in 1950 when the dream of a real racetrack was finally realised; using the area enclosed between the right bank of the Santerno River, the Mineral Waters Park and the foot of the Santerno hills.
The initial project was a 4-km track, which later was extended to 5 km. with the provision of a road that connected the Tosa Curve to the Piratella Curve. The track, 9 meters wide, comprised 16 bends with a radius varying from 36 to 6 meters for a total of 5017 meters.
On October 19th 1952, while testing the CONI ‘prototype’, the track was inaugurated by the drivers Farina, Villoresi, and Ascari, who were test-driving two 340 Sports cars.
The memorable inauguration day finally arrived on the 25th April 1953 with the “Coni Grand Prize”” valid for the 125 and 500 Italian Championship and the National 250 Race. The following year the first “Gold Cup” motorcycle race and the Shell “Golden Shell” car race put Imola’s racetrack into the international spotlight.
At this point praise and compliments started arriving from all the drivers and there were also those who were already dreaming of a future for the Ferrari cars.
On the 21st April 1963 the Formula 1 Race arrived in Imola, but the race was of minor importance and the Ferrari didn’t participate, but an emerging driver, Jim Clark, won the race with his Lotus. The works continued and in 1965 the first covered tribune was completed in front of the starting grid.
Even if the racetrack debuted in 1950, it’s in 1970 that it made its grand entrance into the sports world. The mayor and the city council entrusted the fortunes of the racetrack to the image and charisma of Enzo Ferrari, who named it after his son Dino, who had died prematurely.
1979 is an important year for the conclusion of the construction of the permanent track. Another important date in the history of the racetrack is 14th September 1980 when the first Formula 1 Race was held. It was the 51°Italian Grand Prix, which was previously hosted in Monza.
The rivalry between Imola and Monza to host the race was settled with the realisation of the Gran Prix of the Republic San Marino to be held in Imola and the Italian Gran Prix in Monza. On 14th August 1988 Imola and the Formula 1 mourn the death of a great friend Enzo Ferrari. As a sign of gratitude, honour and respect the township renamed the racetrack Enzo and Dino Ferrari.
Unfortunately this was not be the only mourning connected to the track, many others followed, until the most recent fatal accidents of Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna during the 1994 GP. Following these accidents the track underwent some important modifications to slow it down so as to ensure a greater safety to the drivers. Two S curves replaced the spectacular but terrifying Tamburello and Villeneuve Curves and an emergency debris barrier along the pit-lane was added as an extra precautionary measure.