For Automotive News Editor-in-Chief Keith Crain, who entered the Automotive Hall of Fame last week, 1978 was a big year for scoops. The one usually discussed -- and recounted in several books -- was his revelations about Henry Ford II firing Lee Iacocca. But there was another scoop that year -- Crain's interview with Enzo Ferrari.
It happened a few weeks before the Iacocca bombshell and was published in the June 16 issue of Automotive News' sister publication Autoweek.
The headline was "AutoWeek Talks To: Enzo Ferrari" and the interview was bylined "by Keith Crain and Bob Irvin." The late Irvin, an Automotive Hall of Famer in his own right, was an esteemed reporter for Automotive News and Autoweek.
Crain made one thing clear in the 1970s and early 1980s. No matter where he was, or what he was doing, or what was on his schedule, he would put down everything if he had the opportunity to interview Enzo Ferrari. He would leave for Maranello, Italy, on the next flight.
Eventually, he got the interview and traveled to Italy with Irvin. The visit included a tour of the Ferrari racing shops, a walk around the Ferrari assembly and manufacturing plant, a drive around the test track across the street and, finally, an hour and a half interview with Enzo Ferrari.
Crain and Irvin wrote: "The Commendatore, who is 80-years-old, saw us in a summer house he keeps, which, appropriately, is in the center of the two-kilometer test track."
The two journalists asked such questions as: "Are you happy with your new Formula 1 tires?" ("Yes"). But more philosophical inquiries elicited some rare self-examination by the great man. Crain asked: "There has developed a great mystique about Ferrari, the car and the man. Do you understand it?"
Ferrari replied: "There is nothing magic."
But he also told Crain: "When other people begin to exalt me, to say I'm great, I look in the mirror and think that probably I have always dreamed of being Ferrari."