Enzo Ferrari, Italy's greatest sports car builder and racing pioneer, died at his home in Modena, his auto company announced Monday. He was 90.

In a statement, the company said, "Enzo Ferrari serenely ended his earthly life Sunday, Aug. 14."No cause of death was given, but Ferrari was known to have been suffering from a kidney disease.

The statement said son Piero, his mother, Lina, and wife, Floriana, were at Ferarri's side when he died. No other details were given. Ferrari's wife, Lauro Garello, whom he married in 1919, died in 1978.

The founder and chairman of the company bearing his name that makes luxury sports cars and renowned Formula One racers once dreamed of becoming an opera star or a sportswriter.

But his first love was race cars, and his drivers whipped the prancing black horse on his bright red race cars to victory on every major track in the world.

"It's true that I have never met any man whom I thought altogether resembled me - but only because my faults are so enormous," he wrote in his autobiography.

"I have yet to meet anyone quite so stubborn as myself and animated by this overpowering passion that leaves me no time for thought or anything else. I have in fact no interest in life outside racing cars," he wrote. "I have never gone on a real trip, never taken a holiday. The best holiday for me is spent in my workshops when nearly everybody else is on vacation."

His factory, in the northern town of Maranello, near Modena, turns out 1,300 cars a year with engines as precise as clockwork.

Hundreds of customers, many titled, all rich, book the Ferrari models years in advance and pay as much as $40,000 to $50,000 for the cars.

Born in February 1898, Ferrari entered motor racing in 1919 and drove with the Alfa Romeo team for 11 years, winning several races.