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12 May1935
The Grand Prix of Tripoli
Famiglia Giogoli
Music by Alessio Ricci & Mix audio Pierpaolo Ovarini | Biennio di Musica da Film del Conservatorio di Musica di Bologna

"The Ghibli, the tremendous desert wind, was still blowing. When we positioned ourselves for the start, the sky had turned a sulphurous yellow." Thus recounted in his memoirs the German driver Rudolf Caracciola with his Mercedes triumphant in the ninth Tripoli Grand Prix on 12 May 1935. We find ourselves in the brand new Mellah racetrack, 13.14 km long and the pride of fascist architecture, before the eyes of Tripolitania's Governor Italo Balbo. In this short 9.5mm film we see the Maserati no. 30 of driver Nino Farina, who will retire on lap 28 due to an engine failure, and the Alfa Romeo no. 56 of the Ferrari team of Monegasque driver Louis Alexandre Chiron, who will be one of the protagonists and will finish fourth. It was a challenge between titans, with Achille Varzi, Luigi Fagioli and Tazio Nuvolari coming second, third and fourth respectively. For Caracciola, of ancient Italian origins, it is a triumph in the year that sees him win so many Grand Prix after recovering from the terrible accident in Monaco two years earlier that left him with one leg shorter than the other and the death of his wife killed under an avalanche. In this Grand Prix the tyres prove to be not up to the power of the cars. Nuvolari has to change tyres no less than thirteen times. His Alfa Romeo is very heavy because it has two engines ('a technical immorality' said Enzo Ferrari). Chiron's Alfa Romeo also has two engines, but that is not enough. Caracciola in a Mercedes 4000 wins 197.933 on average and with a new lap record of 220.167 kilometres per hour. Varzi made up for it by winning the following year, while Farina won in 1940, the year of the last Tripoli Grand Prix. This race is also famous because in 1933 it was linked to the Libyan Lottery. It was a great success: more than a million tickets sold for 12 lire (total takings of 15 million), thirty tickets drawn at random associated with the thirty drivers, thus linking the outcome of the competition to the lottery. The first three would win a total of 6 million. Why then not share such a large jackpot? The rumour that the first three finishers Varzi, Nuvolari and Borzacchini had agreed with the ticket holders to divide the one million into six equal parts was never denied. If I could have a million per grand prix....