Pro­lific na­tional racer passes away af­ter heroic fight with mo­tor neu­rone dis­ease

Motor Sport News - - Racing News -

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 rac­

Cun­ning­ham in 2005 Bri­tish GT

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