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Chaparral Cars was a United States automotive company which built prototype race cars from the 1960s through the early 1980s. Chaparral was founded by Jim Hall, a Texas oil magnate with an impressive combination of skills in engineering and race car driving. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Chaparral's distinctive race cars experienced strong success in both American and European racing circuits. Despite winning the Indy 500 in 1980, the Chaparrals left motor racing in 1982. Chaparral cars also featured in the SCCA/CASC CanAm series and in the European FIA Group 7.
Chaparral was the first to introduce effectively designed air dams and spoilers ranging from the tabs attached to the earliest 2C model to the driver-controlled high wing 'flipper' on the astoundingly different looking 2E, all the way through to Hall's most idealistically inspired creation, the 2J, the car that would forever be known as the 'vacuum cleaner'. Chaparral also used a semi-automatic transmission.
The 1967 2G was an improved version of the 2E. It was more aerodynamic. The car ended Hall's racing career when he crashed at the Stardust Grand Prix.
The 2H was built in 1969 as the replacement for the 2G. Hall thought that it was a good design. The car was not very successful.
The most famous Chaparral was the 2J. In addition to a powerful 700hp engine, the back of the 2J housed two large 17-inch fans driven by a 45hp snowmobile engine. The purpose of the fans was to 'suck' air from under the car and propel it out the back. This gave the car tremendous gripping power and enabled greater maneuverability at all speeds, which cannot be achieved by simpler aerodynamic devices such as diffusers and wings. Since it 'sucked' a fixed amount of air out from under the car at all speeds, downforce did not decrease at lower speeds. With other aerodynamic devices, down-force decreases as the car slows down or achieves too much of a slip angle, both of which were not problems for the 'sucker car'. It also had ground effect skirts to keep air from leaking out, a technology that would appear in Formula One several years later. The 2J was not a success, despite qualifying from the front at each rounds, the car was plagued with mechanical problems and ran for only one racing season in 1970 as its technology was quickly outlawed by the SCCA after driver's complaints of stones being thrown at them from the rear. It was also adopted in Formula 1 for the 1978 Swedish Grand Prix, used by Brabham BT46B which it was banned soon after. The 2J is the other Chapparal to appear in Gran Turismo 4.File:2jp2.jpg
- Chaparral 1
- Chaparral 2
- Chaparral 2D
- Chaparral 2E
- Chaparral 2F
- Chaparral 2G
- Chaparral 2H
- Chaparral 2J
- Chaparral 2K
In 2005 a wing of the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum in Midland, Texas was dedicated to the permanent display of the remaining Chaparral cars and the history of their development by Midland native Jim Hall.