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Thread: Chaparral

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    President Member t walgamuth's Avatar
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    Chaparral

    The subject of the Chaparral sucker car came up in the Smokey Yunick thread and I did some reading to inform myself. The subject in question was how much did Chevy R & D have to do with its design and construction. I looked first in a lovely book I have titled Chaparral and did not find much detail about that.

    I have another book called Can-Am photo history by Pete Lyons. It has an extensive chapter about the Hall efforts. In it there is an extensive interview with Jim Hall. In it he says this about the 2j car, as the sucker was called.

    He says it was other folk's idea to begin with. He actually states that he got a sketch from a kid describing a sucker car before any racing people spoke of the idea. People at GM R&D were interested in it and tried to interest Hall in it but as he says "I just did not have time to mess with it. We were building the 2H at the time and it turned into a handful, so the guys at Chevy went ahead and built the J car- which it was not called then, it was just another GM test car originally.
    When the H car was so unsuccessful, we really had egg on our face. I got some vibes from Chevrolet, well why don't you take the vacuum car and run it? But it's scary when you stop and think how complicated it is. Its got a system of articulated skirts and it takes guys looking after that. And it's got an auxiliary engine that turns the fans, plus its a race car in addition to that...compared to cars we were running took about twice the number of people to just go out and test. ...taking it to a race track would be a real scene.
    But they said this is a really original idea and somebody's gonna do it if we don't. Eventually I said "ship it down here and we'll see what we can do with it". They did and we tested it a lot and tried to make it into something. We eventually committed to run it in 1970 but it really wasn't ready to go racing. It was still a test car. We needed another year
    ." And the interview goes on to say it got banned and on to other cars....
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    I guess the Chaparral falls into a similar status of the winged Mopar's in stock car racing. Outlawed for being too advanced. As I recall the fan engines were from snowmobiles??? Is that correct? Today all that would likely be computer assisted. Probably even going so far as to limit speed if the sucker motor failed.
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    President Member t walgamuth's Avatar
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    I'm trying to add pictures.....won't work for me....?
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    When talking about Jim Hall and the Chaparrals race cars lets not forget Hap Sharp. I believe that its well known fact back then in racing circles that Hall and Sharp got a lot of back door help from GM.

    John S.

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    President Member junior's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by t walgamuth View Post
    The subject of the Chaparral sucker car came up in the Smokey Yunick thread and I did some reading to inform myself. The subject in question was how much did Chevy R & D have to do with its design and construction. I looked first in a lovely book I have titled Chaparral and did not find much detail about that.

    I have another book called Can-Am photo history by Pete Lyons. It has an extensive chapter about the Hall efforts. In it there is an extensive interview with Jim Hall. In it he says this about the 2j car, as the sucker was called.

    He says it was other folk's idea to begin with. He actually states that he got a sketch from a kid describing a sucker car before any racing people spoke of the idea. People at GM R&D were interested in it and tried to interest Hall in it but as he says "I just did not have time to mess with it. We were building the 2H at the time and it turned into a handful, so the guys at Chevy went ahead and built the J car- which it was not called then, it was just another GM test car originally.
    When the H car was so unsuccessful, we really had egg on our face. I got some vibes from Chevrolet, well why don't you take the vacuum car and run it? But it's scary when you stop and think how complicated it is. Its got a system of articulated skirts and it takes guys looking after that. And it's got an auxiliary engine that turns the fans, plus its a race car in addition to that...compared to cars we were running took about twice the number of people to just go out and test. ...taking it to a race track would be a real scene.
    But they said this is a really original idea and somebody's gonna do it if we don't. Eventually I said "ship it down here and we'll see what we can do with it". They did and we tested it a lot and tried to make it into something. We eventually committed to run it in 1970 but it really wasn't ready to go racing. It was still a test car. We needed another year
    ." And the interview goes on to say it got banned and on to other cars....
    This is good information indeed. Thanks for following up on it. I was certain the sucker car was Hall's creativity, and now stand corrected. I never got to witness it run, but was fortune enough to see the big wing cars run, and the first outing of the 2H in Edmonton, as well as a spectacular pit fire when the Trans-Am Camaro was being refueled. If memory serves, sadly two crew members were badly burned, but to a 10 year old's eyes, the sight of a 50 ft. column of fire and black smoke was spectacular. Too bad the 2H was such a dud, but the design was sure cool, especially seeing the driver through the side of the car! It was reported that the J car had enough suction to be driven upside-down, a feat that surely would be exploited on you tube if the car was still running today. If memory serves, during qualifying the 2J was at times 2.2 seconds per lap ahead of the Bruce and Denny show, and it was failure of the fan engine that was the real Achilles heel of the whole deal. Also, going off memory, the loss suction due to fan motor failure at an inopportune time entering a corner caused total loss of control and badly damaging the car. I wonder if it's still around? Cheers, Junior

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    1954 C5 Hamilton car.

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    President Member t walgamuth's Avatar
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    I didn't see anything about a crash, nor running upside down. They ran it four times and then it was banned for the good of the series.

    The book Chaparral shows some significant mods done presumably after Hall received it so I believe it was more than an add numbers effort.

    I read more about it today. Teddy Mayer, one of the guys high up at McClaren did not like it at all because as it ran it sucked all the ch!t on the track and blew it out the back to any car running behind it. He felt it was unsafe also because of the possibility of losing its suction suddenly.
    Last edited by t walgamuth; 11-15-2017 at 09:59 PM.
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    President Member junior's Avatar
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    1954 C5 Hamilton car.

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    President Member t walgamuth's Avatar
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    I just realized Teddy was with Mclaren not Chaparral....so I changed it in the above post.
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