Briggs Cunningham

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Where are they now?

Briggs Cunningham

IT IS NOW 25 years since Briggs Cunningham arrived at Le Mans with a Cadillac saloon and a rather peculiar streamlined Cadillac-based special which quickly became nicknamed “Le Monstre”. In the years that followed this wealthy American enthusiast not only continued to support major international sports car races, but also graduated to the construction of his own sports cars which he used to compete in the 24-hour classic. Not merely a team owner, Briggs Cunningham proved himself to be a driver of considerable distinction, his best placing at the Sarthe being achieved in 1952 when his 5.4-litre Chryslerengined Cunningham C4R, which he shared with Bill Spear, averaged 88.022 m.p.h. to finish fourth overall.

In 1953 Phil Walters and John Fitch drove one of Cunningham’s cars into third place at Le Mans while Spear and Johnson repeated this achievement the following year, Cunningham running cars bearing his name for the last time at Le Mans in 1955. Later in the early 1960s this ambitious private entrant continued to support the French endurance race with entries of Chevrolet Corvettes, Jaguars and Maseratis. As if that wasn’t sufficient to occupy him, Cunningham took time off to concentrate some effort on his other great love, sailing, and captained the yatch “Columbia” to victory in the prestigious America Cup in 1958. To this day he remains on the selection committee for the America Cup. Cunningham drove his last Le Mans in 1964, sharing an E-type Jaguar with Roy Salvadori, and now lives in the Pacific Coast resort of Costa Mesa, near Los Angeles where he has built up a World-famous collection of

historic road and racing cars. He moved to California in 1962 where he began to put his collection of cars, started shortly after the Second World War, on public display and now has a total of 80 machines on show in a modern, spaciously laid-out museum. All the cars in Cunningham’s collection are fully prepared and ready to drive and each one is periodically taken out of the collection for “road test”. In 1961 Briggs Cunningham married his wife Laura, herself a leading woman racing driver in California during the 1950s and she actively. helps him in the administration of their priceless collection of cars. A sprightly 68 years old, Briggs Cunningham still finds time for sailing in his spare time but devotes most of his working week to the administration of his automobile collection and its substantial archives.—A.1 I.

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