America’s Le Mans pioneer died recently at the age of 96.
The son of a wealthy businessman, his family’s fortune allowed Cunningham to pursue his passion for racing. It began in the 1930s, and after the war he was central to the creation of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA).
However, it was Le Mans that really captured his imagination and he first competed there in 1950 in a Cadillac. Although outclassed, the car finished 10th, but Cunningham decided to build his own cars. One of the most successful of these was the C4R in which he finished fourth in 1952. His cars also enjoyed success in the USA, a C4R driven by Phil Walters/John Fitch winning the first world sportscar championship race, the 1953 Sebring 12 Hours.
Cunningham later became a Jaguar importer and it was at the wheel of an E-type that he finished fourth again at Le Mans in 1962 alongside Roy Salvadori.
That was his final Le Mans. He retired from racing in 1966, and began to collect many of the cars from his racing years.