Briggs Cunningham was a millionaire owner of a car museum at Costa Mesa and also a car builder. Besides this, he was also an all-round sportsman who competed in all manner of races. He won the Americas Cup in his yacht Columbia in 1958, and had competed each year from 1951 to 1955 at Le Mans.
In order for a car to be homologated for Le Mans, a specific number have to be made but this was no problem for Cunningham. He built the necessary 27 cars and sold them as sports cars for every day use.
The cars never achieved victory at Le Mans but came close several times. A C-5R was third behind two Jaguar C-types in 1953. The other two Cunninghams running that year finished seventh and tenth.