Lucie Bedford Cunningham Warren Obituary
Lucie died on July 16, 2012 at the age of 104. She was the first wife of Briggs S. Cunningham and the mother of Briggs S. Cunningham, III; Lucie C. McKinney; and Cythlen C. Maddock. Known as the “working donor”, she was a leader in her philanthropic pursuits.
Click here to read her obituary.
Lucie Cunningham McKinney Obituary
It is with sincere regrets that we inform you of the recent passing of a great lady & a special friend. She very much enjoyed being the middle of the three (3) offspring of Briggs Swift Cunningham II and Lucie Bedford Cunningham. Also, she has had much joy from her family & from her two (2) Cunningham C-3 Vignale cars.
Click here to read her obituary.______________________________
Briggs Cunningham, 96, Racecar Pioneer and Sailing Champ
By BARBARA LLOYD
Published: July 5, 2003
Briggs Swift Cunningham II, a sportsman whose affinity for yachts and cars drew him to sailboat racing as an America’s Cup skipper and to auto racing as the creator and driver of his custom sports car, died Wednesday at his home in Las Vegas. He was 96.
Cunningham sailed in the 1958 Cup races off Newport, R.I., as skipper of the 12-meter sloop Columbia, successfully defending the America’s Cup against the British challenger, the 12-meter yacht Sceptre.
”Briggs was like a fine violinist with boats,” said Victor Romagna, who sailed with Cunningham in the competition. ”He would need someone to do the tuning, as one might with a Stradivarius, but afterwards, we would hand the boat back to Briggs. Then he would play the instrument absolutely perfectly.”
Cunningham was born Jan. 19, 1907, in Cincinnati. His family helped finance railways, telecommunications, meat-packing and commercial real estate, and his father was the chief financier of two young men who had developed a bath soap that floated. Their names were William Cooper Procter and James Norris Gamble.
Cunningham spent his summers in the Northeast and learned to sail by the time he was 6. His family moved to Southport, Conn., when he was a teenager. At age 17, Cunningham joined the Star Class racing fleet at the Pequot Yacht Club in Southport. The venture was the beginning of his 30 years of sailboat racing on Long Island Sound.
He attended Yale for two years, then left in 1929 to marry Lucy Bedford, daughter of a Standard Oil heir, Fred Bedford. It was during this period that he entered into sport as a way of life.
As a member of the New York Yacht Club, he continued to sail the Columbia in club races through the 1960′s. He also developed the Cunningham, a common device on sailboats that adjusts sail tension.
Cunningham’s interest in racecars began in 1939 when he participated in the New York World’s Fair.
After World War II, he began competing in the 24-hour auto races at Le Mans, France, and in 1951 he showed up with the Cunningham C-4R, a racecar he had designed and built. Made with a sleek, hand-hammered aluminum body and Chrysler’s newly introduced V-8 engine, the Cunningham has been called America’s first sports car. A year later, Cunningham and his partner, Bill Spear, placed fourth with the car at Le Mans, averaging 88 miles an hour.
”Cunningham himself was never particularly interested in short races,” Road and Track magazine said in 1979. ”What he liked to do was get out and drive and drive and drive, which was why Le Mans was so fascinating to him.”
Having raced his sports car for the last time in 1955, Cunningham began competing on a Jaguar team and became a Jaguar distributor in New England. After moving to California in 1962, he bought several vintage powerboats and, in 1964, opened the Briggs Cunningham Automotive Museum in Costa Mesa, Calif., which has since changed ownership and was moved to a private museum in Florida.
In 1993, he was inducted into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame at the Herreshoff Marine Museum in Bristol, R.I. Earlier this year, he was inducted into the Motor Sports Hall of Fame.
Cunningham was married 40 years to his second wife, the former Laura Cramer. He is survived by his wife; a son, Briggs Cunningham III of Danville, Ky.; two daughters, Lucie McKinney of Green Farms, Conn., and Cythlen Maddock of Palm Beach, Fla.; two stepsons; 19 grandchildren and 31 great-grandchildren.
(Click here to read the obituary in The New York Times.)______________________________
Time Magazine, in its issue of June 25, 1928, announced -
Engaged. Lucie Bedford, daughter of Frederick T. Bedford,* of Manhattan, yachtsman-president of Penick & Ford (Brer Rabbit molasses and syrup), granddaughter of Standard Oilman E. T. Bedford; to Briggs S. Cunningham, Cincinnati scion.
Standard Oil heir Frederick T. Bedford, died in 1963.
This data comes from the following obituary:
FRIDAY, JULY 04, 2003 -
Former Westporter Briggs Swift Cunningham, Noted Racer, Dies
Former Westporter Briggs Swift Cunningham Jr., the captain of the winning yacht in the 1958 America’s Cup and a longtime sports car racing figure, has died. He was 96.
Cunningham died Wednesday at home in Las Vegas from complications of Alzheimer’s disease, said his wife, Laura Cunningham.
Cunningham lived in Westport for many years before moving to California in the 1960s and then to Nevada in 1999.
His survivors include daughter Lucie McKinney of Westport, widow of Stewart B. McKinney, the Republican congressman who represented the area for 17 years before his death in 1987.
Cunningham’s first wife was the former Lucie Bedford, daughter of Standard Oil heir Frederick T. Bedford, who died in 1963.
Now Lucie Bedford Cunningham Warren, she continues to live in Westport as does her sister Ruth Thomas Bedford.
The Bedford family has a long history of philanthropy in Westport, having donated substantial amounts of real estate and development funds to build the YMCA and schools.
Cunningham pursued yachting and auto racing with a fortune inherited from his father, a wealthy Cincinnati financier and early investor in Procter & Gamble.
He was the captain of Columbia when it won the America’s Cup Race in 1958.
Later, he was active in competitive sailing at Westport’s Cedar Point Yacht Club and the Pequot Yacht Club in Fairfield.
Fellow yachtsmen recall the lavish parties Cunnigham threw at his Green’s Farms area home following the races. They often included bagpipers, in accord with his Scottish heritage.
He helped found the Sports Car Club of America and the Automobile Racing Club of America.
His name became part of sailing terminology through his 1958 invention of the “cunningham,” a line controlling sail tension.
Other survivors include a son, Briggs Cunningham III, of Danville, Ky., and daughter Cythlen Maddock, of Palm Beach, Fla.
A funeral is scheduled Aug. 8, 2003 in Corona Del Mar, Calif.
Source: Westport Now, downloaded July 6, 2012 from http://westportnow.com/index.php?/v2/comments/4104/
Founder’s Legacy – Edward T. Bedford
The Foundation was established in 1994 by E. T. Bedford Davie, and is named in honor of his maternal grandfather, Edward T. Bedford.
Edward T. Bedford was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1849, to Fredrick and Mary Bedford of London, England. The Bedfords emigrated to the United States in 1848 and settled in Brooklyn, where Fredrick became a respected wood carver. His most noted work was the carving of the frame, which held the portrait of the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII), which was presented to Queen Victoria by the City of New York.
Educated initially in the Brooklyn public school system, Edward attended and later graduated from Maplegrove Academy in Westport, Connecticut.
Edward worked initially as a salesman for Charles Pratt & Co., selling lubricating and heating oils. Through collaboration with his friend, Robert Chesebrough, he helped develop and market the petroleum by-product now more commonly known as Vaseline. Mr. Bedford later became a sales agent for Standard Oil, and was named a director of that company in 1903.
Soon thereafter Mr. Bedford left his interests in the oil business to his son, Charles and went on to devote his energies to his newly formed Corn Products Refining Company (known more recently as CPC International). The company developed and marketed starch, sweeteners and corn oils.
Edward T. Bedford was a personal friend of John D. Rockefeller and his business acumen was highly regarded. He was the frequent subject of news articles and was even mentioned in Dale Carnegie’s seminal work, How to Win Friends and Influence People.
A devoted family man, Mr. Bedford was the father of three daughters (Mary, Emily and Grace) and two sons (Charles and Fredrick). He was an avid sportsman, whose equine breeding interests included Diplomat and Hamburg Belle. He held numerous records while at the reins of his prized trotters.
Mr. Bedford died in 1931, at age 82, in Westport, Connecticut.
Urling Iselin And Student Are Married
Published: June 6, 1982
Urling Sibley Iselin, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Peter Iselin of New York, was married yesterday to E.T. Bedford Davie Jr., son of Mrs. Charles Addams of New York and Watermill, L.I., and Mr. Davie of Palm Beach, Fla., and Scottsdale, Ariz. The Rev. Thomas D. Bowers performed the ceremony at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church.
Mrs. Jeffrey F. Welles was matron of honor for her sister, who attended the Chapin School and was graduated from St. Timothy’s School and Vanderbilt University. She was presented at a party given by her parents at the Tavern on the Green and attended the Debutante Cotillion and Christmas Ball and was a member of the Junior Assembly.
She is a granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. Morris Duane of Bryn Mawr, Pa., and the late Mr. and Mrs. O’Donnell Iselin of New York. Mr. Duane is a lawyer with the Philadelphia law firm of Duane, Morris & Heckscher. Mr. Iselin was a sportsman and director and former chairman of the Rochester and Pittsburgh Coal Company in Indiana, Pa., of which the bride’s father is financial vice president and secretary.
Mr. Davie attended the Eaglebrook School in Deerfield, Mass., and graduated from the Brooks School in North Andover, Mass., and Vanderbilt University. He is studying for a master’s degree at Pace University. His father is an investor. His stepfather is the cartoonist.
Briggs S. Cunningham II
Published in Palm Beach County History Online
Briggs Swift Cunningham II (1907-2003), an heir to the Proctor & Gamble fortune, co-founded the Automobile Racing Club of America, which became the Sports Car Club of America (SCCAA) in 1944. Starting after World War II, Cunningham competed worldwide in the new sport of road racing. In 1950 and ’51, he raced at Palm Beach Shores on Singer Island, where wet sand could affect the outcome, and at Boca Raton Air Field. Spectator injuries and fatalities ended public road racing by 1952, when the trend moved toward using paved airport and road circuits.
In 1950 Cunningham bought Frick-Tappet Motors of Long Island, renamed it the Briggs S. Cunningham Company, and moved it to to a building in West Palm Beach. His goal was to build an American sports car that would beat European cars at 24 Hours of Le Mans, with an American driver; Cunningham’s drivers were the best in America.
Cunningham installed the best American motor, the Cadillac V8, into a light Studebaker body; authorities at Le Mans were horrified. Work continued at the new facility through late 1950, but Cadillac withdrew its supply of engines. Through a friend whose father was head of engineering at Chrysler, Cunningham obtained the brand-new Chrysler Firepower Hemi V-8.
The Cunningham has been called America’s first sports car. He introduced racing stripes, using blue stripes on his white cars. From 1951 to 1955, they came close to winning Le Mans, developing a new car each year. Briggs contracted with Carrozzeria Vignale in Italy to build bodies on his C2 chassis and return them to Florida for finishing; one such car won the 1951 SCCA National Championship. A C6 model remains the design parameter for the Corvette, Viper, Cobra, and limited specials.
The Cunningham team raced Ferraris, Jaguars, Maseratis, Porsches, and others; one set a record in 1954 that still exists. Although he never achieved his goal of winning 24 Hours of LeMans with a Cunningham, his team amassed an impressive list of wins at other venues.
To satisfy Le Mans rules, small numbers of street versions of the Cunningham C3 Vignale coupe and C2R sports car were produced at the West Palm Beach factory. But in 1953, few Americans had $9,000 to $10,000; about 30 C3s were built. By 1956, low production and five profitless years prompted the Internal Revenue Service to reclassify Cunningham’s business as a hobby, making it financially unviable; he closed the West Palm Beach facility and went to work for Jaguar.
Four of Cunningham’s cars were displayed at the first annual Palm Beach International in 2005, including a Vignale C3 road car, a 1960 Corvette, and the modified Cadillac, dubbed ‘Le Monstre’ by the French when Cunningham took it to Le Mans in 1950.
Briggs Cunningham Biography
By PHIL ALLEN
If the history of Virginia International Raceway can be described as being interwoven with the history of sports car racing in America, then the thread is obviously Briggs Cunningham. Road racing traces its roots from loosely organized events over public streets and roads at such venues as Watkins Glen and Bridgehampton in New York and Elkhart Lake in Wisconsin to airport courses at public landing fields and Strategic Air Command bases around the country. Eventually they evolved into events held on private road courses. Cunningham was a leader at every stage.
Briggs Swift Cunningham Jr. was the son of a wealthy Cincinnati financier who had made his fortune in the 19th Century in real estate, railroads, utilities and banking. Already wealthy, he later financed two young men in business who had plans to market a cake of soap they had produced by mistakenly over-mixing the ingredients so much that the soap floated. The senior Cunningham received a share in the company formed by the partners Proctor and Gamble, with one of them becoming godfather to young Briggs Jr. The elder Cunningham died at age 75 when his son was only 7, leaving a family fortune sufficient for Briggs to lead a privileged lifestyle and to develop his competitive personality through a variety of interests. While at Yale, he began a career as a successful yacht-racing skipper that would lead him to international fame as owner and captain of the America’s Cup winning Columbia.
In the 1930’s Cunningham developed a love of auto racing with his friends and classmates Miles and Sam Collier. They began by racing makeshift racers over the private roads of the Collier estate Overlook in Westchester County New York. They formed The Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) and promoted racing from 1934 to 1940. Briggs did not drive during his mother’s lifetime out of respect for her wishes. However, in 1940 he began a long career of constructing and entering cars of his own design. He entered a Mercedes body on a Buick Century chassis that he had built and named BuMerc in the final ARCA race on the grounds of the New York World’s Fair. He did not drive the car at this time.
After the war, sports car racing re-emerged from a group formed in the Boston area known as The Sports Car Club of America (SCCA). The first organized race was through the streets and over the public roads in the small village of Watkins Glen, New York on October 2, 1948. This time Cunningham drove his BuMerc to a second place finish and hired a driver who drove his supercharged MG-TC to a third place finish.
By June of 1949 Cunningham had established a professional relationship with mechanical wizard Alfred Momo that was to become one of the longest lasting and most successful in American road racing. They purchased a Ferrari 166 Corsa from Momo’s former co-worker Luigi Chinetti who was to become the most important Ferrari importer in the United States. This was the first Ferrari racing car in America and Cunningham entered it in the first race held on the public streets and roads of Bridgehampton, New York. His driver was George Rand. The Ferrari was the class of the field until mechanical trouble caused a DNF. At the Watkins Glen race on September 17, 1949 Briggs drove the Ferrari to a second place finish after leading until the last lap when he was passed for the win by his friend Miles Collier.
The 1950 season was memorable for several reasons. Cunningham raced a Healy-Cadillac the first of many small sports cars with large displacement American engines and he began a quest to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans.His Lemans effort featured two Cadillacs, one a stock body nicknamed “Clumsy Puppy” was driven by Briggs and Phil Walters. It had as its only modification the addition of a dual carb manifold. Sam and Miles Collier drove the other, a specially designed aerodynamic body that acquired the name “Le Monstre”. It captured the imagination of the French fans because its huge engine caused the earth to shake and the exhaust would spew flames out the back at night. The entries were memorable but clearly not capable of winning. The coupe finished tenth and “Le Monstre” finished eleventh after losing time hitting a sandbank.
After Le Mans the team resumed the American season with Briggs having successes in his Healy Cadillac and Sam Collier campaigning the Ferrari 166. Tragedy struck at Watkins Glen when Collier was killed in the Ferrari in a race in which Briggs finished second in the Healy-Cadillac.
The LeMans entries had been at the urging of the Collier brothers and Sebring promoter Alec Ulmann. The Colliers drove the second car and Alec Ulmann served as team manager in 1950 and several subsequent years. The Americans were allowed to race but the organizers seemed to associate them with “hot-rodders”. What was needed was a legitimate manufacturer’s entry to gain respect from the Europeans. To accomplish this purpose, Cunningham decided it was time to build his own cars to establish a place for an American built sports car that would be competitive in prestige as well as speed. Near the end of the 1950 season he bought an automobile manufacturing and development business from Phil Walters and Bill Frick and moved it to Palm Beach, Florida near where he spent his winter seasons. The purpose was to build a sports car that would be competitive with the best that Europe had to offer and to use American components.
The first car, the Cunningham C-1 was designed around Cadillac power but Cadillac pulled out of the project. Chrysler’s new “hemi”engine was substituted and the cars became the C-2R. Three were built. They were 150 mph monsters but they all failed to finish at Le Mans in 1951 for differing reasons. Back home in the United States the results were much better. In the first American outing for the design, John Fitch won on the streets of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on August 26. At Watkins Glen on September 15 the Cunninghams finished first, second, and fourth.
The 1952 season saw the introduction of the most successful Cunningham design ever, the C4R. At Le Mans the C-4K Coupe led the race but dropped out at the 8 hour mark. The C-4R driven by Briggs and Bill Spear finished fourth with Cunningham driving 20 of the 24 hours.
Back in the USA the team finished 1,2,3 at Elkhart Lake but on September 21 a tragic event at Watkins Glen was to change sports car racing in America for years to come. Cunningham was leading the first qualifying lap as the cars entered the village streets when another driver brushed against a crowd of spectators, injuring 12 and killing a small child. The era of racing on public streets and highways with little or no crowd control came to an abrupt end. The pioneers of American road racing had to seek new venues. Their savior came in the form of Air Force General Curtis LeMay, an avid racing fan. He allowed sports car racing to survive by staging events at the many Strategic Air Command (SAC) bases around the country. The first event, a 6-hour race at McDill AFB in Tampa was won by John Fitch in a Cunningham C-4R. Just weeks later, in March of 1953, Fitch teamed with Phil Walters in the same car to win the 12 Hours of Sebring. The car went on to win 4 more times during the season including a 1-2 finish at March Field in Riverside, California.
For Le Mans in 1953 the Cunningham team brought their latest, the C-5R. It was the fastest car on the track but Jaguar arrived with a superior braking system. The C-5R was only able to earn third place and Briggs finished seventh in his C-4R. The Cunninghams were third and fifth the next year in the 1954 Le Mans. Back at home in 1954 the Cunninghams finished first, third, and sixth at Watkins Glen. This would be the last win for a Cunningham-built car. For the 1955 Le Mans race the team carried a C-6R for Briggs and Sherwood Johnston and a D Type Jaguar for Bill Spear and Phil Walters. Both cars failed to finish. The previous year the team had won the 1954 12 Hours of Sebring with Stirling Moss and Bill Lloyd in a small-displacement OSCA. Briggs himself had enjoyed a successful year in the OSCA, winning the1954 SCCA points title in F Modified.
1955 would be the final year for Cunningham cars. The Internal Revenue Service only allowed 5 years before classifying such a business as a non-deductible hobby and the Palm Beach factory closed its doors at the end of the year. Briggs Swift Cunningham had carried the American flag to the greatest shrine of European sports car racing and had done so with an All-American racing car. The French had long since stopped looking down on the Americans as “hot-rodders”. At the same time, he had created a style of car that would capture the imagination of the world for years to come. While he was the first to mate a lightweight two seat chassis to a large displacement American V-8, the design he pioneered lives on today in the Corvette, the Cobra, the Panoz, and the Dodge Viper.
At the end of 1954 the face of sports car racing in America had changed again. Congress had responded to political pressure by banning racing at SAC bases. This time the solution to the problem brought about a positive development, the construction of permanent, private road courses. The civic leaders of the village of Watkins Glen had moved north of town and mapped out a course over township roads that were easier to control than the crowded streets in town. Later, in 1956 the third and final course was constructed at the present location. Meanwhile, the citizens of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin had seen the same benefits in hosting a permanent course and had supported and encouraged Cliff Tufte in his construction of Road America. The Cunningham team was in contention for wins in the inaugural events at both courses.
The milestone year for track construction in the United States was 1957. New courses were opened at Riverside, Calif; Thompson, Conn.; Bridgehampton, N.Y.; Laguna Seca, Calif; Lime Rock, Conn. and Virginia International Raceway in Danville, Va. The Cunningham team was busy around the entire country. Briggs had become a Jaguar importer at the beginning of 1956 and was the factory team for the United States with a trio of D Types. Phil Walters had been the lead driver from the formation of the team until his retirement from racing after witnessing the tragic accident at Le Man in 1955. Sherwood Johnston became the number one driver until May 20, 1956 when a privately entered D Jaguar driven by Walt Hansgen beat the powerful Cunningham entry at Cumberland, Md. and Hansgen earned a place on the team.
The Cunningham Jaguars arrived at VIR for the track’s inaugural race on the weekend of August 3rd and 4th of 1957 in the midst of a hotly contested battle for the National Championship in C Sports class between Hansgen in the Cunningham Jaguar and Carroll Shelby in John Edgar’s Maserati. Hansgen had won at Elkhart Lake and Marlboro, Md. For VIR, car owner Edgar had replaced Shelby’s Maserati 300 with a more powerful 400 horsepower 450 model. The power advantage paid off on VIR’s long straights and Shelby was able to beat Hansgen into the winner’s circle for the Virginia track’s first feature race. Walt countered with wins at Bridgehampton and Watkins Glen in New York. The team returned to VIR in October and Hansgen took the National Championship by a convincing win in the President’s Cup feature. Both Sports Illustrated and The New York Times named the Cunningham driver “Sports Car Driver of the Year”.
The 1958 season at VIR saw the Cunningham lineup equipped with new Lister Jaguars. Hansgen won both the Spring Sprints and The President’s Cup in the fall. In the Spring Sprints Hansgen won the feature after he and Ed Crawford overcame an early lead by Lance Reventlow in his Scarab to finish 1st and 2nd. Reventlow had towed all the way from California to challenge the Cunningham entries in his newly designed and built racer. The fall win earned the team leader enough points for a second consecutive National points title.
The year 1958 was a memorable one for Briggs’ racing career on more than one front. The America’s Cup challenge in yacht racing had been renewed with the British. Just as he had done so often at Le Mans, Cunningham gave the American people a reason to be proud. His 12-meter Columbia defeated the British at Newport, renewing the winning tradition for the United States that would last until the loss to the Australians in 1983.
In the midst of the America’s Cup victory celebration on the docks at Newport, Cunningham found a pay phone and received word that Ed Crawford had won the feature race at Watkins Glen in his Team Cunningham Lister Jaguar. Members of his yacht crew, thinking he was talking about the yacht race, saw him smiling and congratulated him on a “fine race”. He replied, “I just heard. I wish I could’ve seen it.”
The headlines in the local press at VIR in May of 1959 could have been copies of earlier editions. Hansgen made his 4th consecutive trip to the Danville winner’s circle. He ended the season at Daytona with another Championship, this time in C Modified.
The President’s Cup race was not held at VIR in 1960. The event was staged at Upper Marlboro, Md in both 1959 and 1960. The official entry for the May 1, 1960 SCCA Nationals lists an OSCA for Cunningham and a Maserati for Hansgen as well as a pair of Formula Jr. entries for the two drivers. They are not listed as starters in any of the results so it is assumed that the team was busy elsewhere. They had reason to be occupied elsewhere as the team arrived at Le Mans with a substantial departure from their usual entry. In addition to a Jaguar E2A hybrid for Briggs, the entourage included three Corvettes for an all-star line-up of drivers that included John Fitch, Bob Grossman and Dick Thompson. The import and export of driving talent between Europe and America came full circle that year when Cunningham hired Jack Brabham and Bruce McLaren who had finished first and second in the 1960 F-1 World Championship to drive his two Jaguar E2A models in the season-ending West Coast races at Laguna Seca and Riverside. The Jaguar E2A was constructed with features from both the D-type and the newer E-type.
The President’s Cup and the Cunningham/Momo team both returned to VIR in April of 1961. Hansgen lapped the entire field, except for Roger Penske, in the three hour Cup race driving Cunningham’s new Tipo 61 Birdcage Maserati. Penske and Gaston Andrey drove identical 12 cylinder cars to make the podium an all Maserati affair.
Hansgen had led the Formula Jr race earlier in the day until mechanical problems forced him to retire his Cooper-Climax. In October he entered a Cooper-Climax in the U.S. Grand Prix at Watkins Glen. He crashed that car and Cunningham later sold the damaged chassis to Roger Penske who modified it and added a sports car body. Penske campaigned the car as the Zerex Special and established much of his early fame as a driver and car-builder. The same car was later sold to Bruce McLaren and was the first car campaigned by the newly-formed Team McLaren. The chassis sold to Penske was a Cooper T53 chassis number F1-16-61 and we have to assume that it was not the same as the Formula Jr Cooper that Cunningham brought to VIR in April?
The year 1962 was the final appearance at VIR for both the President’s Cup and for Briggs Cunningham. On April 29, a monsoon-like rainstorm caused Hansgen’s Cooper Maserati to make an eight-minute pit stop for Momo to dry out his electrical system and he finished second to Roger Penske in the feature race. In the earlier race for Formula cars Hansgen had started at the back of the grid because he missed qualifying but passed the entire field to earn a victory over Roger Penske and Peter Revson.
Maserati built two Tipo 151 coupes for Cunningham’s 1962 Le Mans effort. He found them to be too heavy and the rest of the season back in America was not successful for the Maserati. Briggs’ trip to France that year was more successful as a driver. He and Roy Salvadori drove a works E Type Jaguar to third overall and first in class
Jaguar shipped Cunningham three all new lightweight E Types for 1963. They were entered at Sebring and Le Mans. Drivers included Hansgen, Salvadori, Augie Pabst, Bruce McLaren, Bob Grossman and Cunningham. Salvadori crashed heavily in the kink on the Mulsanne straight at Le Mans and the Grossman/Cunningham entry finished ninth. Hansgen retired with gearbox troubles. This was to be the final appearance for the Cunningham team at Le Mans. They had not won the 24-hour classic, but they had taken first place in the hearts of many French fans. Laura Cunningham tells of the style with which her husband approached his yearly escapade. “His friend Johnny Baus was an American living in France. He would rent a garage in town each year and the team would arrive from the States with their big semi transporter with the best of equipment and supplies. Johnny would take care of all the local arrangements each year.” She describes a relationship with the French people that developed far beyond the concept of the Americans as “hot-rodders” that had greeted Briggs and the Collier Brothers on their arrival in 1950.
After Le Mans in 1963 Briggs made few appearances as a driver or entrant. The SCCA had established a professional series known as the United States Road Racing Championship (USRRC) that ran from 1963 through 1968. Briggs and John Fitch entered one of the E Type Jaguars at the Road America 500 in 1963. Briggs drove a Porsche 904 to 10th place in the 1965 USRRC at Laguna Seca and finished 9th at Riverside. Cunningham drove the Porsche at Sebring in 1966 with John Fitch and Davey Jordan. This was to be the final race of his driving career.
Facing retirement in 1965, Cunningham and his wife Laura began to plan a museum to house his racing cars collected throughout the years. From the grand opening in 1966, the museum remained open to the public for 22 years, displaying one of the world’s best collections. Included were the most important cars from Briggs’ long career, from his BuMerc and his Ferrari 166 Corsa all the way through the Porsche 904 from his last race in 1966. The collection was sold to Miles Collier in 1986 and remains intact in his private museum but is no longer open to the public.
Cunningham passed away in 2003 at the age of 95.
Published in Wikipedia
Briggs Swift Cunningham II (January 19, 1907 – July 2, 2003) was an American entrepreneur and sportsman, who raced automobiles and yachts. Born into a wealthy family, he became a racing car constructor, driver, and team owner as well as a sports car manufacturer and automobile collector.
He skippered the first victorious 12-Metre yacht Columbia in the 1958 America’s Cup race, and invented the eponymous device, the Cunningham, to increase the speed of racing sailboats.
He was featured on the April 26, 1954 cover of Time magazine, with three of his Cunningham racing cars. The caption reads: Road Racer Briggs Cunningham: Horsepower, Endurance, Sportsmanship. He became an early member of the Road Racing Drivers Club (RRDC), an invitation-only club formed to honor notable road racing drivers.
The October 2003 Road & Track magazine article, “Briggs Swift Cunningham — A Life Well Spent”, states that “by building and sailing his own ships, and building and racing his own cars, Briggs Cunningham epitomized the definition of the American sportsman.” He was inducted into the America’s Cup Hall of Fame in 1993, the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1997, and named to the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 2003.
Cunningham died in Las Vegas, of complications from Alzheimer’s Disease, at the age of 96.
Automobile manufacture and competition
Introduced to motorsports as a youngster when his uncle took him to road races just after the first world war, Cunningham began international racing in 1930 with his college friends Miles and Samuel Collier, who in 1933 founded the Automobile Racing Club of America (renamed the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) in 1944). He continued in competition for 36 years.
By 1940 he was building sports cars for others to race. His first race as a driver was with his Bu-Merc, a modified Buick chassis with Buick engine, and Mercedes-Benz SSK body, at Watkins Glen shortly after World War Two. Some of his other hybrids involved Cadillacs, Chryslers, and Fords. Cunningham was one of the first to purchase a Ferrari barchetta, which was raced along with other marques he constructed or owned.
In 1950 Briggs Cunningham entered two Cadillac cars for Le Mans, one a stock-appearing Cadillac Model 60, the other a special-bodied sports car dubbed “Le Monstre.” They finished 10th and 11th overall. On December 31, 1950 Cunningham participated in the 6-hour Sam Collier Memorial Race, the first automobile race held on the Sebring Airport race track, which was won by a Crosley HotShot. Cunningham finished 3rd in class and 17th overall in his Aston Martin DB2 Vantage LML/50/21, the first Vantage produced.
1955 was last year for the Cunningham marque of cars. The Internal Revenue Service rules of the time allowed such prototype low volume manufacturers 5 years to reach profitability before classifying the business as a non-deductible hobby.
By 1956 Team Cunningham, which also fielded other marques, was described as a dominant force in SCCA sports car racing — a distinction the team retained for the next decade. The team traveled in a caravan with tractor trailer vans that contained the automobiles, mechanics and equipment, and set up in the pits to serve every mechanical or personal need of the team. This contrasted with the typical arrival into the pits of a single race car on a trailer, and was described as “impressive” by driver Lake Underwood. The team’s chief mechanic was Alfred Momo.
Cunningham concentrated on competition automobiles; high-performance prototypes that Briggs Cunningham and his team built specifically for racing in the 1950s. A few, adapted for street use, were personal vehicles. In 1952, Cunningham introduced the Continental C3 road car. Production began in his West Palm Beach plant where his team of mechanics installed 331-cubic-inch Chrysler hemi V-8s in a Cunningham C-2R racing chassis. These were shipped to Turin, Italy to be fitted with aluminum and steel bodies by coachbuilder Vignale, after which they were returned to the Florida plant for completion. There were 25 Continental C3s produced: 20 coupes and five convertibles. They sold for $8,000 to $12,000. Notable owners included Nelson Rockefeller and a member of the Du Pont family. Of these 25 cars, all 25 still exist.
C2-R and C4-R
Cunningham’s announcement in 1951 of his intention to build an American contender for outright victory at the Le Mans race caused a stir on both continents. His team was already a favorite with the Le Mans fans, and the announcement demonstrated his commitment to fielding a winning team of American drivers and automobiles.
One of the cars, the Chrysler-powered Cunningham C2-R built by The B. S. Cunningham Company of West Palm Beach, Florida and driven by Phil Walters and John Fitch, finished 18th out of 60 starters. The other, driven by George Rand and Fred Wacker Jr., failed to finish.
In 1952 the C4-R of Briggs Cunningham and Bill Spear finished fourth overall at Le Mans.
A C4-R won the 1953 Sebring 12 Hours. At Le Mans Walters and Fitch finished first in class and third overall with a C5-R, and the two other Team Cunningham cars finished seventh and tenth. They returned to take third and fifth place in 1954.
These years were to be the high point of achievement for Cunningham-built cars at Le Mans. With victory unattained, the effort was described as a “gallant failure” by American journalist Ozzie Lyons. Later in 1954, a C4-R driven by Briggs Cunningham and Sherwood Johnston finished sixth in the Reims 12 Hour sports car race, behind three Jaguars and two Ferraris.
Malcolm Sayer, designer of the Jaguar D-Type, noted after the 1954 Le Mans that the chassis frame of the C-4R had “no effective diagonal bracing. It therefore twists so much that the door cannot work if one rear wheel is jacked up”, and that the bodies were designed “with no theoretical basis”.
At Le Mans in 1955 the Cunningham C6-R, fitted with an Offenhauser engine, retired from the race. Second and third gears failed, and the engine, designed for methanol fuel and insufficiently modified for the mandatory French pump gasoline, overheated. A burned exhaust valve ended the car’s run.
Team successes with other marques
In addition to Cunninghams, the team raced Ferrari, Jaguar, Maserati, Corvette, O.S.C.A., Porsche, and other sports cars. One set a record in 1954 that remains unbroken: driven by Stirling Moss and Bill Lloyd, Cunningham’s 1.5-liter O.S.C.A. MT4 become the smallest-engined car ever to win the Sebring 12 Hours race, and also the first to win on wire wheels. The team won at Sebring again the following year, this time with a Jaguar D-Type. In 1960 Cunningham entered a team of four cars at Le Mans: three race-modified 1960 Chevrolet Corvettes, and an E-type Jaguar driven by Dan Gurney. The #3 Corvette, driven by John Fitch and Bob Grossman, finished first in the GT Class and eighth overall, the first-ever class win by a Corvette at Le Mans. The model’s best-ever finish there, the achievement was unsurpassed for over 40 years. In 1964 Briggs Cunningham and Lake Underwood won the 3.0 Liter Prototype class at Sebring with their jointly-owned Porsche 904 GTS, and in 1965 they won the 2-liter class and finished ninth overall, again with a 904 GTS.
Cunningham amassed a collection of automobiles that included the first Ferrari in the United States, sold to him by Luigi Chinetti, and a Bugatti Royale, one of only six made. To house the collection he opened the Cunningham Museum in Costa Mesa, California. Eventually the vehicles were sold to the son of his long-time friend Miles Collier, to be combined with the Collier Automotive Museum collection in Naples, Florida, which also was open to the public at that time.
Sebring Raceway’s “Cunningham Corner” is named for Cunningham and his team.
The Cunningham C7, introduced at the 2001 Detroit International Automobile show, was the product of an enthusiast collaboration between Robert (Bob) Lutz, Lawrence (Larry) Black, and Briggs Cunningham’s only son Briggs S. Cunningham III.
Cunningham Motorsports, currently running a Dodge Charger in the ARCA Racing Series as part of Penske Racing’s driver development program, is jointly owned by Briggs Cunningham III and Kerry Scherer.
In 1981 Cunningham was the first American marque to be featured at the Monterey Historic Automobile Races.
Briggs Cunningham’s grandson, Brian S. Cunningham, raced in Formula Three in 1994.
Cunningham team drivers and Briggs Cunningham co-drivers included:
Archie Scott Brown
John Gordon Benett
George G. Huntoon
Briggs Cunningham Passes
By MIKE FRANK, Jaguar Touring Club of New Jersey
On July 2, 2003, Briggs S Cunningham II passed away at the age of 97 at his home in Las Vegas, from the complications of Alzheimer’s disease. I thought it might be appropriate to take a moment to reflect on the life of the greatest car guy of them all.
The Cunningham and Swift family stories are the story of America. They trace their family trees back to the beginnings of English colonization in this continent. By the end of the 18th century, they had settled around present day Cincinnati. As the country grew, the families made their fortunes by operating fleets of riverboats, and by supplying provisions to settlers moving westward. The 19th century patriarch, Briggs Swift Cunningham I, was born into a family that was already quite well off. Pursuing a career as a banker and sometime entrepreneur, he enlarged the family fortune by investing in such budding young enterprises as Proctor and Gamble, Cincinnati Bell, and the Pennsylvania Railroad. By the time the junior Briggs S Cunningham arrived, they were more than comfortable.
The elder Briggs Cunningham died while Cunningham junior was just a tyke. The family businesses were operated by his remarkable mother, who was by all telling, quite astute at business. But Briggs and his sister were both encouraged to make something of themselves, rather than relying on the family wealth. The hope was that he would become a lawyer or banker, and follow in his father’s footsteps. But Briggs had different ideas. He studied engineering, to the dismay of his family and friends.
It was rumored that when Briggs married Lucie, his first wife, in 1929, they were the wealthiest couple in history. Both of them came from well to do families. And both had a flair for sports. While on honeymoon in Switzerland, Briggs took the opportunity to learn how to toboggan. When he came back from the slopes, Lucie asked how he had done…he said not too well, he was only third fastest. It turned out that he had been practicing with the Swiss national toboggan team. For her part, Lucie was an avid yacht racer, the first successful woman in the sport.
They settled in Greens Farms, CT (near Westport), in a big house on the Sound. How does a wealthy couple spend their time? They raised a family, and dealt with their respective family businesses and philanthropies. But in their spare time they took part in competition of all sorts. Briggs wasn’t quite as successful as Lucie at yachting, at least not at first. But together they won the Bermuda’s Cup in 1936. Their involvement with automobiles began as an interest in concours events…Now, if you’ve been to an automobile concours recently, that may not sound too special. But in the 30′s concours was the sport of wealthy gentleman. Today, we may prepare cars for concours, in those days the cars were built expressly for concours. The cars were usually displayed in the context of haute couture fashion, with Lucie doing the modeling.
But Briggs sought something more dynamic. His friend Miles Collier would invite Briggs and a few other friends to his estate in Briarcliff Manor, and would hold car races on the property. Thus was formed the Automobile Racing Club of America. In 1940, ARCA sponsored the first and last New York Grand Prix, held on the World’s Fair grounds in Flushing. Briggs entered a Buick-engined Mercedes, driven by Miles Collier. It didn’t win, but it wasn’t for lack of trying. The die was cast, although war would interfere.
When war broke out, Cunningham immediately volunteered for the Air Corps. But at 33, he was too old. So he did the next best thing…he helped form the Civilian Air Patrol, along with other interested but disqualified aviators. Using his own seaplane, he spent the war patrolling the East Coast, spotting submarines, and coordinating sea rescues. After the war, Briggs took up racing again, scoring a second place in the first post war run at Watkins Glen. But all of this was just prelude to a remarkable career.
In 1949, Alec Ulmann, the entrepreneur who brought road racing to Sebring, attended the first post war running of Le Mans. This was a big thing to the Europeans. Le Mans had been used as an airfield by the Luftwaffe, and had been thoroughly destroyed by Allied bombers. Restoring the track was hardly a priority in 1945. But now, just four years later, it was a symbolic rising from the ashes. Ullman had an idealistic notion that in the future, nations would defend their valor in the sports arena rather than the battlefield. Auto racing was important to national prestige and world peace….but how to get America involved?
Ullman approached Cunningham, and the rest is history. Taking on the task, Cunningham contacted his college friends, who had risen to important positions at GM and Chrysler, and spent some time touring showrooms and factories. He concluded that there were no cars being built in America capable of winning Le Mans. He had found his life calling: he intended to change that.
Working with Frick Motors on Long Island, he came up with the idea of dropping a Cadillac engine into a light Studebaker body. The authorities at Le Mans were horrified, and refused to homologate the car. Back to the drawing board, it was clear that the best motor made in America was the Cadillac V8, but what to about the body? More careful this time, he purchased two Coupe De Ville’s. One, nicknamed Clumsy Puppy, was given the most basic race preparation…at least that one would be up to Hoyle. For the other, he disposed of the body. In it’s place he had a light weight framework built up, and clothed it in an aerodynamic aluminum skin. The body was designed and built by Grumman engineers, working in their spare time. A unique five five carburetor manifold was installed. The result was a huge car, nichknamed Le Monstre, that lit up the night by spitting flaming fuel from it’s tailpipes. They were just barely ready in time for the 1950 race. In the event, the “stock” Coupe De Ville placed tenth. The aluminum bodied special came in eleventh, because it had been involved in a minor accident. Cunningham had done well enough to know that victory was possible, but it would take a new car.
So it came to pass that in 1950, at the age of 43, Briggs S. Cunningham II took the first job of his life…President of Cunningham Motors. The company was formed with one purpose in mind….to build a car capable of winning Le Mans for the US. Now, in order to run at Le Mans, a car has to be made by a bona fide manufacturer, one who makes a certain minimum number of cars each year. Cunningham obliged by turning out both the C2R sports car and the C3 Vignale coupe, and selling them to the general public…just enough to meet the rules. Today, those cars are among the most collectible US production vehicles.
By 1951, Cunningham had begun to assemble a collection of champion race drivers to pilot his cars, they attacked Le Mans in high dudgeon. The cars themselves, C2R’s in that first year, were also superb. The power was provided by a Chrysler Hemi…Cunningham had pulled all the strings to get the best engines out of Chrysler development. The chassis was excellent, although too heavy. Cunningham introduced a little innovation: by Le Mans rules, each car was supposed to display a national roundel, similar to the markings on war planes. But Cunningham did something much bolder: he painted the wheels red, the cars white, and finished them with a blue stripe from nose to tail…the first racing stripe. It was a sensation. But 1951 was to be Jaguar’s year. Although the Cunninghams made for great theater, they simply didn’t have enough of the right stuff to win.
For the next four years, they tried, coming close each time. Despite an Herculean effort, which included the development of a new car every year, Cunningham just couldn’t best Jaguar, Ferrari, or Mercedes. The best showing would be 1953, when the unflappable John Fitch would drive a C4R Cunningham to third place.
The end of the beginning came in 1956. The IRS noted that Cunningham Motors had consistently failed not only to win Le Mans, but to make profits. They declared it a hobby rather than a business, and closed it down. Just as this was playing out, Sir William Lyons of Jaguar, sensing that he could eliminate a nagging challenge, invited Cunningham to close shop and join Jaguar. A combination of pull and push left Cunningham with little choice but to become the Jaguar distributor for the US East Coast.
And so he became a car dealer, and can be credited with much of Jaguar’s marketing success in this area during the 50′s and 60′s. As a reward, Jaguar gave him the newest and best D-Types for his racing stable. By this time the team included master mechanic Alfred Momo and a who’s who of 1950′s race drivers, including the fast and furious Walt Hansgen. The Cunningham team travelled up and down the East coast, showing them how it was done.
For Cunningham, all this must have been a confusing time. He had set out on a mission, and he now was employed by the opposition. His own cars had dominated racing everywhere, except for the one venue that counted. Now he had capitulated, and was driving D-Types, someone else’s….some other country’s car. What’s more, Jaguar’s factory fire in 1956 killed the D-Type (indeed, it nearly killed Jaguar), which meant that his agreement with Lyons left him without a supply of new racers. The Cunningham team turned to Lister, as the most credible supplier of Jaguar powered race cars.
But the whole XK concept was aging. So in 1958, he took a little hiatus, and returned to yacht racing. At the invitation of the NY Yacht Club, he served as the skipper of the America’s Cup challenger, Columbia. There must have been some satisfaction in beating the English team in the final race. As he stepped out onto the dock, and the reporters crowded around, he ducked out for a telephone. He called his Jaguar team, which was running at Watkins Glen. They had just won. As he got off the phone, a reporter spotted him, and said, “Great race, Mr. Cunningham.” With his mind still on Watkins Glen, he replied, “I know, I wish I could have been there.”, leaving the reporter quite puzzled.
Returning to auto racing, Cunningham put heavy pressure on Jaguar to produce a winning car. Whatever the actual technical contribution of Cunningham and his engineering team, the E-Type was forced into the world by his relentless pressure. In 1960, he was finally allowed to run the E2A prototype at Le Mans. The car put in the fastest lap time in practice, and with the team of Walt Hansgen and Dan Gurney at the wheel, seemed to be destined to greatness. But the motor fell apart mid race. Setting aside the recriminations, it was Jaguar’s last real chance to win Le Mans for many years.
That same year, Cunningham ran a team of three Corvettes alongside E2A. How does the US Jaguar distributor come to be running Corvettes? Well, who was going to stop him? He still held the hope that an American car with an American driver would someday win Le Mans. But in 1960, only one car crossed the finish, in eighth place, driven by Bob Grossman. This is the subject of another story, so we’ll skip the details here.
It must have been a very hard defeat for Cunningham. The next couple of years seem to have been pretty difficult. He ran Maserati’s in 1961, which proved fast but unreliable. His personal life became difficult, as well: he divorced and remarried. But in 1962, it was back to Jaguars, and a solid fourth place Le Mans showing. The team at the wheel was British ace Roy Salvadori and Cunningham himself.
For 1963, he was once again stoked for a win. He had pressured Jaguar into building three all-aluminum E-Types. Weighing just 2100lbs, and powered by a true 317HP aluminum block XK, these were simply the best of the breed. Unfortunately, the whole E-Type concept was no longer good enough to beat a flock of V12 powered Ferrari’s. Again, the details are another story, so I’ll skip them here. But another eighth place showing, ironically with Grossman again at the wheel, was the best they could muster.
In the following years, Cunningham briefly flirted with Porsche and Cobra, but now pushing 60, his racing days were really over. Jaguar bought out his distribution network in the mid 1960′s. We can only speculate on his real feelings when Walt Hansgen, by then driving for Holman and Moody, was killed in a GT40 during Le Mans practice in 1966. Just two months later, Bruce McLaren won Le Mans for Ford.
Cunningham moved his car collection from Connecticut to California, and opened a museum to share them with the world. The collection had many notable cars, including not one, but two Bugatti Royale’s, purchased from Bugatti’s daughter after the war. He settled into a comfortable late life as a philanthropist and a curator. But as age overtook him, he sold the collection to Miles Collier in 1985.
He is survived by his wife of 40 years, Laura (nee Cramer) of Las Vegas, son Briggs S. Cunningham III of Danville, Ky., daughters Lucie McKinney of Greens Farms, Conn., and Cythlen Maddock of Palm Beach, Fla., and step-sons Bill Elmer and Joe Elmer, 19 grandchildren, and 31 Great grandchildren.
Send donations to Alzheimer’s Association.
William Bedford Lloyd
Deceased November 28, 2011
William Bedford Lloyd died peacefully in his home in Southport, Connecticut on Monday, November 28, surrounded by friends.
Mr. Lloyd was born on July 12, 1923, son of Harold L. Lloyd and Grace Bedford Lloyd.
He attended Greenwich Country Day School, Deerfield Academy and Amherst College. Prior to the United States entry into World War II, Mr. Lloyd joined the British Army where he served in North Africa, Syria, Sicily and Italy. He then transferred to the U.S. 7th Army, serving in Southern France.
Mr. Lloyd was a well known racecar driver, yachtsman and scuba diver. Mr. Lloyd had an intense interest in the environment and wildlife, particularly in respect of Zambia, where he supported a number of projects in support of wildlife.
Mr. Lloyd had a vacation home in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, which he frequently visited. Mr. Lloyd is survived by nieces and nephews.
E.T. Bedford’s granddaughter’s was Lucie was born February 19, 1907. Lucie Bedford Cunningham was William Lloyd’s 1st cousin.
Lucie’s sisters = Helen born September 11, 1909, Ruth born 1914 and Mary died in her youth.
Grace’s sisters = Mary and Emily. Brothers = Charles and Fredrick.
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