TRIBUTES TO CUNNINGHAM
Prolific national racer passes away after heroic fight with motor neurone disease
Racers from across the sport have paid tribute to Neil Cunningham, who lost his brave fight against motor neurone disease last week at the age of just 53.
The former single-seater and British GT ace was diagnosed with the condition six years ago but faced it with typical good humour and raised money for MND research in the hope that a cure would be found in time to help him.
Although a New Zealander by birth, Neil arrived in Britain after starting racing in Formula Ford in Australia and soon made his name as a rising star of Formula Ford 1600. He showed himself to be a fine racer and his cheerful disposition and hard working attitude won him many friends.
When his single-seater career stalled, Neil moved to Eurocar racing and was the 1996 V6 champion but it was in sports and GT cars that he really found his perfect racing home. He won multiple times in the British GT Championship, notably with Embassy Racing in a GT2 Porsche he shared with Ben Collins in 2005, a partnership that culminated in third place in the championship that season. Later, he raced across Europe and then competed at Le Mans in the LMP2 class.
Neil proved his versatility by racing historic cars with success and even took a driving role in Quantum of Solace, the James Bond film. He also regularly deputised for Collins as Top Gear’s Stig character. Cunningham later moved his family to the Gower Peninsula in South Wales where he indulged his love of surfing but, cruelly, at age of 47 he was diagnosed with motor neurone disease.
Neil Cunningham was a fine racer, a truly likeable character and immensely popular across the sport.
His many racing friends have been fulsome in their praise of Neil as a gentleman, racer, rival, team mate and friend. Motorsport News sends sincere condolences to his wife Rachael and their two children as well as his countless friends in the sport.
Cunningham established the Racing4mnd charity in recent years to raised funds to battle the disease. More information on, and to donate to the charity, visit racing4mnd.org.