Saturday Matinee: Briggs Cunningham Double Feature

This great American took the Corvettes to Le Mans

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2005

In a way, Briggs Cunningham was like the East Coast Carroll Shelby. He built race cars — even homologated a few. He had a Big-3 OEM deal at Le Mans, where his team won class. In another sport, Yachting, he commanded a sloop that won the America’s Cup.

He didn’t need to be the salesman that Shelby was though. His Grandfather was friends with a couple of soap makers in the early 20th century and made a wise investment with Mr. Procter and Mr. Gamble.

The videos you are about to watch covers the gamut of Cunningham’s life — as a great American racer/constructor with some wild designs and many a race win. The second, hosted by Dr. Dick Thompson, tells the story of the Cunningham C2 Corvettes as they won their class at Le Mans.

This was before the Cobras and the GT40s would make their mark. At the time of this win, the Big-3 had a “racing ban” agreement. But that did not mean there weren’t go fast parts going out the back doors of the factory to “privateers” like Cunningham. Zora Duntov and Billy Mitchell were advocates of racing — particularly on the world stage. Though only one Vette made it to the finish after the grueling endurance classic — they still managed a class win.

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If you don’t know him or much about him, this is an awesome history lesson of a man who contributed so many successes to the United States’ presence in international motorsports.

Enjoy! Happy Fourth everyone!

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