In the 1950s if there was a new race circuit which wanted an F1 Grand Prix, it first had to host a non-Championship F1 race so that the organizers’ abilities could be assessed. It was a good practice, now no longer observed. In 1957 the Royal Automobile Club of Morocco promoted a non-championship F1 race at the 4.7-mile Ain-Diab circuit which was located along the coast road southwest of Casablanca. The European season was over and Juan Manuel Fangio had won his fifth World Championship, driving a works Maserati 250F. But this post-season race allowed some of the teams to experiment with cars they would use in 1958.
Maserati fielded four of their lightweight 250Fs, to be driven by Fangio, Jean Behra, Harry Schell and Giorgio Scarlatti. Ferrari had put their Lancia-derived V8s out to pasture, or rather into the infamous Maranello “shed” where old racecars were left to die. They brought two of their new lighter F2 cars one with a V6 “Dino” 2.2-liter motor and the other with a 2.4 version, close to what they would use the next year. They also were running their cars on AvGas which would be required for all F1 cars in 1958. Vanwall was there with cars for Stirling Moss, Tony Brooks and Stuart Lewis-Evans and BRM had their BRM 25s for Maurice Trintignant and Ron Flockhart.
The race took place on October 27 and in the above photo the Maseratis are being pushed to the grid with Jean Behra walking along next to his 250F and wearing his recognizable helmet with its checkered band. On Behra’s left is British entrant R. R. C. (“Rob”) Walker who had entered a Cooper for Jack Brabham.
Brooks was on pole with Behra and Lewis-Evans next to him and with Peter Collins and Fangio in the next row. Stirling Moss, who had led the first practice session, had then come down with the rampant Asian Flu and returned to England. The flu also affected Hawthorn and Fangio to one degree or another but did not prevent them from racing. At the start it was Collins, running a light fuel load, followed by Behra who took over the lead when Collins spun and stayed there to win the 55-lap event at an average of over 112 mph 30 seconds ahead of Lewis-Evans who was followed by Trintignant and Fangio.
Brabham had a bit of an unusual race. When he had gearbox trouble, he returned to the paddock where the Walker mechanics put in a new one and after some 20 minutes Brabham returned to the competition. This was of course against the rules, all work during the race having to be done in the pits. Therefore the black flag was displayed but without a car number, so Brabham continued for a bit longer. The only other driver to come in for that flag was Fangio who had had a push start after a spin, also against the rules, leading one commentator to observe that the Argentinean may have had a guilty conscience!
Photo by Edward Eves ©The Klemantaski Collection – http://www.klemcoll.com