Africa is the only major continent not featured on the Formula 1 calendar, but that was not always the case. In fact, as far back as 1925, Italian Tripolitania, now known as Libya, hosted motor races, thanks mainly to it being a colony of car-mad Italy. The Tripoli Grand Prix ran up to 1940 and therefore never counted for the World Championship which was inaugurated a decade later. But factory teams from Europe with famous names such as Alfa Romeo, Mercedes, Auto Union, Bugatti and Maserati all engraved their name on the Tripoli winner’s trophy.
On 12 May 1935, all the top drivers of the time lined up on the grid at the Mellaha seaside circuit and the start is captured with a wonderfully evocative view from the grandstand in this Automobilist Fine Art. Mercedes was the dominant team and Rudi Caraciolla won the race, recalling the finish in his autobiography: “Then Neubauer (Mercedes team boss) rushes up, and the mechanics, my faithful Walz among them. “The big man” is quite beside himself. He pulls me from the car, kisses me in both cheeks; two mechanics hoist me on their shoulders. They carry me that way to the pits. I shake many hands. I am still quite numb. Suddenly it comes over me – I have won, thank the Lord, I have won! It is an indescribable feeling which cannot be compared to anything else.”