Chaparral Cars

Jim Hall and Hap Sharp’s accomplishments in the 1960s have had monumental influence on the design of race cars. They may not have discovered downforce, but they were certainly the first designers to understand it and apply it to their racecars. Hall purchased a Chaparral 1 from its designers Trout and Barnes, looking for an edge on builders John Cooper and Colin Chapman. The Chaparral 1’s design was simple, easy to maintain, with excellent braking and big tires. When Hall and Sharp began building their own cars they received approval to continue using the Chaparral name. Hall had a unique set of talents as both a trained engineer and talented driver. He was able to apply a methodical approach to measuring how his cars reacted to speed. Examples include implementing wider tires which delivered better skid pad numbers and later in redesigning his car’s chassis in order to reduce lift and actually create downforce. Concepts that are refined to a science these days – such as measuring telemetry, downforce and grip – were subjects that Hall experimented with in their infancy and applied productively in the 1960s. These aerodynamic milestones, combined with a very fruitful relationship with GM that gave Hall access to cutting-edge technology, lead Chaparral Cars to innovations that continue to influence today’s hypermodern designs.

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