The month of September had been a rather strange one for the team. Certainly, they had experienced great success at Silverstone, but then came the failure at Modena. It would have seemed like a wash. But, in light of the rest of the season it should have been seen as anything but.
At Silverstone the BRMs were dominant. At Modena, the BRMs were not dominant, and then they failed to make it the entire distance. However, at Modena, the team was performing far better than it had throughout most of the season. And that would be the difference. When compared to the season up until the turn-around in Caen, the month of September would look vastly different. In many ways, the BRM T25 acted like a totally different car. The failed finish in Modena had the look of any other race where Ferrari or Maserati would fail to have a couple of their cars make it an entire race distance. Following Caen, Owen Racing had every reason to forget what was past because the car was now performing much better and appeared much more competitive. The season was drawing to a close, but there was certainly good reason to be pleased and to look ahead with confidence.
The team wouldn't be able to look ahead too far too soon. There was still one more race on the season in which the team could participate. In many ways, this non-championship event was like a championship race. Not only was the upcoming race going to be on the World Championship calendar the following year, but, for Owen Racing, it provided one last 'big' event of the season.
Jean Behra and Harry Schell had negotiated drives with Owen Racing at the end of July. This is when the BRM made a turn-around. The problem is that both Behra and Schell would leave to go back to Maserati following the Caen Grand Prix. It was obvious these two had the ability of taking the car to the next level. What's more, their suggested tweaks would take some time for the factory to fully investigate and take advantage of moving forward.
Certainly the revised rear suspension had already been adapted to the car, but, Behra and Schell would manage to tweak that arrangement with other aspects of the car to make it truly powerful. The team would be smart to take the time and investigate further how to fully adapt these tweaks to make the car even better. The obvious decision then was to forego the German, Pescara and Italian Grand Prix in order to further develop the new changes and to wait for Behra and Schell to end their seasons with Maserati.
The decision would prove to be a smart one in that the team finally had a dominant performance in a race bringing home a sweep of the podium in the International Trophy race at Silverstone. But, to achieve that momentous victory the team had abandoned three rounds of the World Championship to better understand the T25. Therefore, in many ways, the 6th Grand Prix de Maroc provided a splendid opportunity.
Held on the 27th of October, the Grand Prix de Maroc would be like one more round of the World Championship. Most all of the major factory efforts, like Scuderia Ferrari, Officine Alfieri Maserati and Vandervell Products would make the trip across the Mediterranean precisely because the race was to be a part of the World Championship for 1958. And so, for Owen Racing, it was as if their sacrifice of foregoing rounds of the World Championship would be rewarded with one important curtain-call performance; a test for the upcoming season.
Heading to Morocco for the non-championship event held in Casablanca could have seemed like a trip into an entirely different world. However, having been under French and Spanish control for more than a century meant there was some European influence evident throughout the major cities.
The coming of the World Championship for 1958 and the non-championship event in 1957 would be very monumental given the fact France had only just allowed the return of the previously-exiled Mohammed V and that he had just become king that same year as a result of negotiating with France for the country's independence.
Morocco's history, of course, extends well beyond the 19th century and even the important Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship from 1777. The Phoenicians would establish trading settlements throughout the area of Morocco during the 6th century BC. Not long afterward the Romans came and took control of the area and represented the furthermost reach of that empire on the African continent. But while kingdoms would come and go, the native Berber people would remain, inhabiting the high mountains of the interior portions of the region.
By the 1950s, one of the most, if not the most, prominent cities in Morocco would be Casablanca. Situated right along the Atlantic coast, the flat coastal plain would be a popular destination as a result of the currents from the Atlantic keeping the temperatures moderate year-around. Having a Portuguese name for 'white house', the European affect on the city is undeniable. From being the famous site where Roosevelt and Churchill discussed the progress of the Second World War to its French-styled architecture, Casablanca is certainly an amalgamation of cultures and influences. Therefore, it made sense the city would host the best teams, drivers and cars grand prix racing had to offer.
The circuit would be called Ain-Diab and would be comprised of public roads, or streets, that literally ran right up to the edge of the Atlantic and amongst the tightly-packed homes to the west of the city's center. Because of the coastal plain, the 4.74 mile Ain-Diab would be virtually flat all the way around but the setting near the beach and the Atlantic would certainly make it rather picturesque and ideally-suited to the culture of Formula One.
Owen Racing would decide, despite its struggles over the course of the season, to make the trip across the Mediterranean to Morocco. They would come to the race with two cars. Ron Flockhart would be behind the wheel of one. The experienced veteran Maurice Trintignant would be behind the wheel of the other.
The nature of the circuit seemed to provide a level playing field to Ferrari, Maserati and Vandervell. The only question was whether the BRM would also take to the circuit. In practice, Moss would be fast in one of the Vanwalls. However, he would get ill and would be unable to take part in the race. It would seemingly matter little as Tony Brooks would end up fastest around the circuit posting a time of 2:23.3. Jean Behra would be back with Maserati again and he would be just two-tenths slower than Brooks and would gain the second spot on the front row. Stuart Lewis-Evans, the other Vanwall driver, would earn the final spot on the front row.
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