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.