The Le Mans Era
1950 – 1955
1954: The Rules Of The Game Text by Kane Rogers
 
 
The 1954 season began with the overall win at Sebring in Briggs’ tiny OSCA, driven by Stirling Moss and Bill Lloyd.  The plans for ’54 included a new downsized racer, the C-6R, that was to feature a two-stroke inverted V-12 Mercury Marine engine. The engine never materialised, so the team turned its attention to preparing the C-4 racers for yet another attempt at winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

 

The team enjoyed some advance publicity at home when TIME Magazine featured the boss on the cover of the April 26 issue, which chronicled the team’s pursuit of victory at Le Mans. The article emphasized Briggs’ ethos of sportsmanship, bolstering the point with quotes from the drivers like Stirling Moss, who said that Briggs “really built and drove his cars because of his love for the sport… Briggs is a man I admire very much – a true  sportsman.” Team Cunningham made good on the praise with another fine showing at the Sarthe. Bill Spears, still driving despite Briggs’ earlier concerns about his vision, teamed with Sherwood Johnston to finish third in one of the C-4R roadsters, and Briggs and Gordon Benett took fifth in its sister car.


In an effort to test the Ferrari V-12 engine’s suitability for a future Cunningham racer, Briggs turned to his recently-purchased Ferrari 375MM, painting it white and blue and installing a water-cooled braking system. Further distinguishable by the two huge air intakes on its hood, the Ferrari ran as high as sixth for drivers John Fitch and Phil Walters until a broken rocker arm slowed them down, the car eventually succumbing to a failed axle bearing.  After the race, Briggs and Alfred Momo paid a visit to Enzo Ferrari to discuss the broken rocker arm. Ferrari refused to acknowledge Briggs’ assertion that a faulty part had been the main culprit in the Cunningham Ferrari’s failure to finish the race. Briggs was incredulous. It was the last business ever between the two men.

 

           
1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955
           
 
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Credit to Kane Rogers for his important contributions to this website's creation.