Mellaha was an ultra-fast blast around a salt lake that developed into one of the classic races of the 1930s.
Mellaha was an ultra-fast blast around a salt lake that developed into one of the classic races of the 1930s. The Tripoli Grand Prix had started in 1925 on 40 miles of open roads to the east of the city and the introduction of a lottery made it one of the richest races in the world. The first Mellaha race was held in 1933 to the north of the original course and it produced perhaps the most public example of race fixing in the sport’s history. The top drivers of the day conspired with a lottery ticket holder to ensure that Achille Varzi won the race, and then divided the prize money among themselves. Unhappy with the German domination of Grand Prix racing, the Italian organisers switched to the Alfa Romeo- and Maserati-dominated voiturette category for the 1939 race. Mercedes-Benz responded by building two W165 voiturettes in absolute secrecy which promptly finished in first and second positions. The setting for the circuit is now Tripoli’s Mitiga International Airport.