Luciano and Dino SANZOGNI
Ferrari Master Mechanic’s
Sarasota , Florida
By Jim DeRespino
(Edited and used with permission)
Luciano Sanzogni was born in the town of Terni , Italy , Northeast of Rome in 1944 and from then on his life was inevitably intertwined with Ferrari automobiles. His father, Mario, began work as an apprentice for Alfa-Romeo in 1925 and soon became a mechanic for Alfa Romeo where he met a young racecar driver by the name of Enzo Ferrari. As the Scuderia Ferrari empire began to grow, Mario Sanzogni specialized in the repair and tuning of the evolving marque, eventually rising to the rank of Ferrari master mechanic (as would his 2 sons and his grandson after him).
These were the early glory days of Ferrari racing history. Luciano would accompany his father to the Mille Miglia, the Monza GP and the Targa Florio and watch as the great racers of the day roared by within a few feet of the crowd. His destiny would be shaped forever by these early memories.
In 1958 a young Luciano began work at the Alfa-Romeo dealership in Terni , and, like his father, quickly became skilled at tuning the exotic sports cars of the day. Political unrest in Italy increased in the late 1950’s, and in 1960 Mario moved his family to South Africa , where the newfound wealth of the gold and diamond mines had developed a growing market for Ferrari sales. Luciano took a job as a mechanic at the Ferrari-Lancia dealership (T.A.K. Motor Co. Ltd/Ferrari of S. Africa ), soon earning a reputation for repairing and tuning the Ferrari California Spyder and the SWB Berlinetta models. At the same time he enrolled in the Technical College of Johannesburg and by 1964 had himself earned the degree of Master Mechanic.
From 1964 – 1969 Luciano returned to Italy 6 times for specialized training at the Ferrari factory and was chosen by Enzo Ferrari himself to assist in the development and test several F1 prototypes. Luciano worked side-by-side with such legendary Ferrari engineers as Forshieri (creator of the flat-12 boxer engine and the 250 GT Berlinetta), GiotoBizzarrini (father of the 250 GTO, Lamborghini Miura and the Iso Grifo) and Battista and Sergio Pininfarina. Each year at the South African Grand Prix at Calami he would join the team as an F1 mechanic (see photo), working with such Formula One greats as Nicki Lauda, Clay Regazzoni and Chris Amon and once driving in an historic race with Gigi Villoresi.
His brother Adolfo, also a Ferrari master mechanic, joined him at the dealership in 1967. Luciano and Margaret were married in 1968, with their children Lisa and Dino arriving in the next four years. Luciano left the dealership in 1984 and opened Luciano Auto Service in Johannesburg .
The volatile political climate of South Africa in the mid 1980’s had become dangerous. Luciano packed up his young family and moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he worked as a mechanic for Ferrari of Tulsa, specializing in tuning 60’ and 70’s Ferrari’s such as the GTO and Daytona.
Looking for a change in venue, the Sanzogni family settled in Sarasota at the end of 1987. Luciano gained a local reputation as an exotic car specialist, first working at Lazzari Motors (Alfa specialty shop) and Bayview Cars of Distinction. In 1991 he opened Luciano Auto Repair at its current location in Sarasota (see photos), where Luciano and Dino (now himself a Ferrari master mechanic) tend to exotic beasts of every age and marque.
But Luciano’s shop has always been much more than just auto repair - it is a gathering place (lovingly named Scuderia Sanzogni in his honor) where the local tifosi come to gaze upon the constant stream of cavallinos , discuss the merits of carbs versus fuel injection or debate topics ranging from the difference between parmesan and romano cheese to world peace. And they come to eat. Lunch is a sacred time where friends gather, discuss the glories of days past and make plans for the future. And, in the true Italian tradition, everyone eats.
I am proud to call the Sanzogni family my friends. Luciano is a man of honor, truthful in dealing with his clients and wise in the ways of Ferrari. Luciano and Dino are skilled in the repair of all European cars, but there is a unique excitement in the shop when one of Enzo’s creations come to call. To these men a Ferrari represents the ultimate in automotive design and function, and is treated with the respect and reverence it deserves. Your stallion is safe here, gathered among its brothers and will emerge again a cavallino rampante under the experienced care of a true ferraristi.
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