Into The Sixties
Part One Text by Kane Rogers
 
 

Having settled on the new Lister-Jaguar as their vehicle of choice, Team Cunningham entered the 1959 Sebring 12 Hours with an impressive driver corps. The two ’58 cars would be driven by the pairings of Walt Hansgen with Dick Thompson and Briggs with Archie Scott-Brown, while Stirling Moss and Ivor Bueb would run the new Costin-bodied car. As it turned out, the team would not factor in the race, which was won by a Ferrari shared by Hill, Gendebien, Chuck Daigh and Dan Gurney.

Cunningham found Bridgehampton in late May a far more satisfying affair, taking his 1914 Mercedes Grand Prix racer to second place in the vintage race event. The field included the 1932 Alfa of New Yorker cartoonist Charles Addams, television personality Dave Garroway’s 1937 Jaguar SS and Dan Donahue, who finished ahead of Briggs in his Bugatti Type 44.

That same afternoon, Walt Hansgen drove one of the Listers to first place in the feature race, beginning his march to a fourth successive SCCA National Championship.

Briggs purchased a Porsche RS, which was driven regularly by Phil Forno and Denise McCluggage to several high placings and class wins. Indeed McCluggage’s successes were a major factor in the increasing number of women making inroads into the feature events, her driving talents proving more than up to the task.

Three other cars were added to the already crowded Cunningham automotive stables: an OSCA 750, a Cooper Monaco and a Stanguellini Formula Junior. Walt Hansgen’s versatility with these diverse machines was certainly on display in September, when he and Crawford won a five-hundred mile race at Elkhart Lake, followed by back-to-back wins at Watkins Glen, the first in a Lister, the second in the Seneca Cup in the Stanguellini, with which he lapped all but one car, a V-8-powered Cheetah.


Measuring the strengths of his competitors, Briggs had come to appreciate the power and reliabilty of the new Chevrolet V-8 powerplant. The Chevrolet Corvette, which in 1953 began life as an underpowered boulevard cruiser, had by 1959 become “America’s sports car”, and Briggs was developing a plan to return to Le Mans with yet another all-American team of racers.

 
  Into the Sixties – Part 2  

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Credit to Kane Rogers for his important contributions to this website's creation.