Chaparral logo
Chaparral Cars was a United States automobile racing team which built race cars from 1963 through 1970. Chaparral cars was founded in 1962 by Hap Sharp and Jim Hall, a Texas oil magnate with an impressive combination of skills in engineering and race car driving. The combination of the last names of the two founders resembled the Spanish word "Chaparral" (Roadrunner) so it was chosen. Despite winning the Indianapolis 500 in 1980, they left motor racing in 1982. Chaparral cars also featured in the SCCA/CASC Can-Am series and Endurance racing.

Chaparral was a leader in effective designing of air dams and spoilers. Their high point being the 1966 2E can-am car. The 2J is the first "ground-effects" car. The unique use of a semi-automatic transmission beginning with the Chaparral 2 is a major reason for their early success. Tires weren't good enough yet to be able to use all the power the 327 Chevy engine could make in 1964, so the torque converter allowed for better traction.

The development of the Chaparral chronicles the key changes in race cars in the 1960s and 1970s in both aerodynamics and tires. Jim Hall's training as an engineer taught him to approach problems in a methodical manner and his access to the engineering team at Chevrolet as well as at Firestone changed aerodynamics and race car handling from an art to empirical science. The embryonic data acquisition systems created by the GM research and development group aided these efforts. An interview with Jim Hall by Paul Haney illustrates many of these developments.

All items (12)

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.