The Monster of Le Mans| GT Colour Lab™️ #2

The Monster of Le Mans | GT Colour Lab™️ #2

Previously.GT Colour Lab™️ #1

Cunningham had a major impact on American sports

Cunningham C-4R emblem. ©︎Valder137


K: Brix Cunningham was more than just an American racing driver. He was a man who had a tremendous impact on the American sports world. He was an expert in all sports, including golf, tennis, boxing, and bobsledding, and he was also a man of considerable wealth. Among other things, he was known as a legendary yacht racer and won the first postwar race, the 1958 *America's CupHe was also a team owner in the*Skipperand won the championship as *skipper*. Incidentally, the device he designed at the time to adjust the tension of the sails had a revolutionary function and is still commonly referred to as a "cunningham".

S: So it has had a tremendous impact on the history of yachting. And if you ask me, the national colors of white and blue seem to be somehow common to marine sports. The uniform of the U.S. Navy, the so-called sailor uniform of sailors, is also white with blue stripes, and considering that Cunningham was a yacht racer, these colors were certainly natural for him.

K: Cunningham was both a prominent yacht racer* and aSCCA (Sports car club of America) Since the 1990s, he has been inducted into both the America's Cup Hall of Fame and the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in recognition of his achievements.

S: The more I hear about him, the more I think he is the perfect guy.

Cunningham in conversation with Graham Mann, skipper of the rival team "Sceptre" (1958)
At the America's Cup ©️George Silk / LIFE MAGAZINE

K: In any case, the fact remains that in the years surrounding 1950, it was only the upper class that could regularly compete in such international races. And it would have been impossible for anyone to compete not only in yacht racing, but also in the 24 Hours of Le Mans* at the same time. The fact that there are still so many colors and names bearing Cunningham's name is proof that he was one of the greats of the 1950s.

S: If he had the ability and financial resources to continue to compete in Le Mans many times, it is no wonder that Cunningham's colors were recognized by the public as the national colors. Considering that he was competing in international races with the prestige of his country on his shoulders at that time, this color must have meant something like the Olympic uniforms nowadays.



K: Cunningham first in 1951White with blue racing stripesCunningham introduced a car with a white and blue racing stripe. It was a C-2R with a Chrysler V8 engine. There seems to be a popular theory that this car was the first car with racing stripes on the automobile. According to one theory, the identifying blue originally painted on the chassisDue to changes in the structure of the automobile,It was no longer visible from the outside,Instead.Two stripes were drawn on the hood instead.... Incidentally, the national colors of the race registered with the FIA in the early 1950s are described as white with two blue stripes. This is probably the reason why it is called the "Cunningham Stripe.

S: The ©︎ logo on the front grille is quite distinctive and interesting, and compared to the C-4R, it looks more like a road car.

A postcard of the Long Island Auto Museum Southampton, circa 1976. The museum is now abandoned.

K: In 1950, one of the regulations to enter Le Mans was that at least 25 cars had to be produced to serve as the basis for a racing car. The C1 was the base for the Cunningham C-2R and the C3 was the base for the C-4R,*HomologationThe C1, based on the Cunningham C-2R, and the C3, based on the C-4R, were built to the minimum required to obtain *homologation*, so they can be driven as road cars. However, both of these cars are very valuable to the history of American motorsports, and only a few of them are still in existence, so they are very popular at auctions.


 Article on the Cunnigham C3 featured in Mechanix Illustrated magazine (1952)

S:.Briggs Cunningham_ America's Sports Car Kingis a strong catchphrase that tells the story of his existence. Also, the special feature at the time was "Is Science Changing Lives? and "Let's build a radio using the new transistor" are also very indicative of the culture of the time.

By the way, have you ever seen the actual C-4R? We were together.*Goodwood RevivalI probably didn't see it when we went to the *Goodwood Revival* together.

K: I saw most of the cars associated with Cunningham at Goodwood. Certainly not when I went with you. Of course I saw the C-4R up close.
Oh, and... Oh, and by the way, there was a "Monster".

S: Monster?


Cunningham's problematic "Monster of Le Mans."


K: This car is the "Monster of Le Mans," Cunningham's early problem car. I guess the French reading would be "le monstre le monstre". It is a legendary car that was badly designed due to the regulations. The body is wedge-shaped like the tail of an airplane, and the tires are attached directly to the body.

S: This is another crazy design. The shape of the lights, it looks like an amphibious vehicle or a submarine. And the color is the same, but it's still not two stripes. How did this happen?

K: When Cunningham first tried to enter Le Mans in 1950, he initially tried to enter a Ford hybrid with a Cadillac V8 engine, known as a "Fordilac," but was rejected by the organizers. At that time, you could modify the body as much as you wanted, but switching to another engine was prohibited by regulations. So Cunningham changed his plans drastically, and one car was a Cadillac that was close to normal production condition, and the other kept the Cadillac engine and chassis, but took away the body and put in a body that took weight and wind resistance into consideration, resulting in the creation of this monster. lol
Of course, despite this obviously bizarre appearance, this time he did not violate any regulations at all. Maybe he had his own sense of humor in this.

 The paddock at Le Mans in 1950. Left: Le Monstre and Right: Petit Pataud ©︎IMAGO

S: But whatever the shape of the car, it is amazing that it finished 11th in the 24-hour endurance race in its first appearance. At first glance, the car may look like a piece of plastic, but it is a complete Le Mans car. Cunningham must have been a man who was dynamic and always did what he said he would do.

K: I guess that's why this car is still talked about today as the "Monster of Le Mans. On the other hand, the other car, a Cadillac Series 61, was available as a reserve for the Monstre at the time and was sarcastically called Petit Pateau (French for "clumsy puppy"). This special Cadillac, which also competed in Le Mans and finished 10th that year, would have been a disaster if it had been compared to this monster and treated like a puppy.

S: To put this in perspective, Cunningham started competing the following year, 1951, in the original C-2R.... It seems like the brand has evolved tremendously in just one year. The year 1950 is often associated with F1, but there is also an indescribable drama in motorsports here.

K: Yes, indeed, the C-series cars produced by the B.S. Cunningham Company were updated every year from the C-2R onward, eventually culminating in the C-6R, but the development of the original car body was completed after its entry in Le Mans in 1955. It is still written that Cunningham stopped updating the C-series project due to his age, but it is easy to imagine how difficult it must have been for him to both develop and compete at such a speed.

However, this does not mean that Cunningham himself lost interest in racing.After 1956, he continued to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Sebring, using a variety of cars. All in American National colors, of course.

©️The Revs Institute 

Painted in American National colors
Briggs Cunningham in his Jaguar D-Type, painted in American National colors.
The man's challenge is not over yet.

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*America's Cup
 America's Cup

The America's Cup is a prestigious international yacht race that has been held since its establishment in 1851, and was temporarily suspended in 1937 due to World War II, but was reopened in 1958. Briggs Cunningham was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1993 for his many accomplishments.


The captain or skipper of a yacht team. In yachting, the skipper holds the helm.

*SCCA (Sports car club of America)
Sports car club of America

Founded in 1944, the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) is an organization that oversees automobile racing in the United States and has hosted numerous races, including Can-Am.

*Heures du Mans 24 (LE MANS) 
24 Hours of Le Mans

An endurance race that has been held at Le Mans, France since 1923, in which drivers compete for the number of laps in 24 hours.It is also one of the WEC (World Endurance Championship) races. Briggs Cunningham competed in a total of 10 races between 1950 and 1963. It is one of the three major endurance races along with the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indy 500 in the United States.


It means "approval" or "certification. A vehicle to be used in a race must be "certified" by a federation set in advance by the organizer. These rules are strictly set by the FIA and other federations, taking safety and suitability of parts into consideration.

*Goodwood Revival
Goodwood Revival

A classic car racing festival held every September in Chichester, southern England. Basically, only cars "important in racing history" from 1948 to 1967 are invited to compete in the race event held at the Goodwood Circuit. The venue and visitors are decorated in a dress code that dates back to the 1960s. Incidentally, Negroni had a stall every year until 2019.

Cover Photography