Before the "space race" became a metaphor for national technological capability, the Grand Prix motor race was regarded, at least by Hitler and Mussolini, as the most readily available way of displaying its world-leading technological prowess. In 1930s Europe, the exploits of Mercedes Benz and Auto Union for Germany, and Alfa Romeo and Maserati for Italy, were powerful tools key to the national interests of their home countries. ⠀
The Gran Premio di Tripoli was first held in 1925 in the capital of what was then an Italian colony in North Africa named Tripolitania - part of Italian leader Mussolini's dream of recreating the glory of the Roman Empire. Tripolitania was later unified as Italian Libya, then after WWII, it became Libya.⠀ ⠀ ⠀ When the Mercedes team rolled its new W125 off the boat in Tripoli in early 1937, the 750 kg era of motor racing was about to begin its final year, and the W 125 was developed specifically for that single year.⠀
⠀ It was there to win. Mercedes had quit Grand Prix racing in early 1936 in order to build a competitive car for 1937, and the new beast the factory had built represented a quantum leap in race performance.⠀ ⠀ It won in Tripoli in front of a brace of Auto Union C machines - Bernd Rosemeyer in second, Ernst von Delius third, Hans Stuck fourth, and Luigi Fagioli in fifth, with the W125s of Caracciola and Seaman sixth and seventh.