Cunningham Coming to Compete And Capture Silver Fern
epaySilver Fern Rally - Cunningham Coming to Compete And Capture Silver Fern
There is a very impressive international contingent heading to New Zealand for November's epay Silver Fern Rally and each one has an interesting story as to how and why they have chosen to compete in New Zealand. Frank Cunningham is one such competitor. Born in Boston, Frank grew up in Ireland and now lives between Boston Massachusetts, Palm Beach Florida and Galway Ireland where most of his family still lives.
Frank's cars are built and run from Galway under the team name Galway Mini Centre/C-Sport. The Galway Mini Centre is owned and run by Ray Cunningham, Frank's brother, who started his preparation shop doing Mini's but now works on historic rally and racing cars of all makes. Ray is considered one of the best Mini drivers in Europe if not even further afield. Meanwhile Sport(CunninghamSport) is a preparation shop owned by Frank's nephew, Martin Cunningham and his two brothers Patrick and Jonathan, all M-Sport (WRC) trained.
The family connection continues with Ross Forde, a nephew, who is normally Frank's co-driver on pace note events. For the epay Silver Fern, Ross and his father Gerry will be making a short movie on the team's trip to New Zealand similar to one that already features on YouTube of the teams efforts on this year's Rally Du Maroc Historique in Morocco. A similar production on the epay Silver Fern Rally will be a wonderful promotion for the beauty and challenges of the New Zealand event.
Frank describes himself as "old" and say's he won't be getting a World Rally Championship call up any time soon! "I've been rallying forever it seems, in between working in the Real Estate business in Boston," he says.
Frank will be at the wheel of a Ford Escort RS1800 in New Zealand and will have Ryland James as his co-driver. "Ryland and I have a long association and have done many events together and there is nobody better on maps. He has been to this event before and by the way, for a Welshman he's not half bad at drinking beer."
What brings this globe trotting competitor to New Zealand? "Over the last few years I have been doing all the events that I followed as a kid and marvelled at the drivers that were so lucky to be competing in such incredible places throughout the world. I love adventures and challenges and the longer events present this for us. I may not be as fast as I would like but hell, I'm having a ball and nothing compares to doing these iconic events with my family. Over the years all I have heard is how beautiful and how good the roads are in New Zealand. The people are not bad either. I just hope the beer is okay," he jokes. "There is a gent called Grant Shand and maybe it's partially his fault I am coming." Shand is a period rally enthusiast and an acquaintance of Cunningham from the United Kingdom who has been a regular at the event.
Frank has accumulated vast experience and a fair degree of success in his chosen sport. He was the 1999 USA co-driving Champion alongside Seamus Burke and the Irish Historic Champion in a Mini. He was second overall in the 2011 European Historic Rally Championship and third overall the following year. He boasts a fourth placing in the 2013 Rallye Du Maroc Historique and a fourteenth overall in last year's Tour Du Corse Historique in a Porsche 911RSR.
Frank is just one of seventeen international drivers heading to New Zealand in November, attracted by the wonderful reputation of the event, the scenery and the people of New Zealand. Best of all he will also be capturing the experience on film!