From 1962, after the first Chaparral was built by Hall and Hap Sharp in Midland, Texas, to 1970, Hall’s engineering genius, backed by behind-the-scenes help from General Motors technicians, turned out a series of dramatic race car inventions that have left a lasting impact on auto racing. Having access to GM’s wind tunnel to refine the aerodynamics, and powered by Chevrolet engines ranging from an aluminum 283 and 327 cu. in. V8 to a 427 V8, Hall’s Chaparrals campaigned the USRRC and Can-Am Series in the 1960s, winning the 1964 USRRC championship. Competing in World Championship Endurance Racing against the might of Ford and Ferrari, the Chaparral 2D won the 1966 Nurburgring 1000, marking the first time an American car had won a major European race in 45 years. That victory was followed by the Chaparral 2F winning the 1967 BOAC 500.
Hall’s original designs, with the assistance of the Chevrolet Research and Development department, included the dramatic high-mounted movable rear wing, an automatic transmission for road racing, and the radical “vacuum cleaner" Chaparral 2J, which was banned before it could win a race.
In 1970, Hall entered three refrigerator-white Chaparral Chevy Camaros in the SCCA Trans-Am Series, graced by huge Chevrolet ‘bow ties’ on their sides, with Vic Elford taking a win for Hall at Watkins Glen, N.Y.
“Jim Hall’s early successes as an innovator and race-car driver are now part of motorsports history," said Mark Kent, Director of Chevrolet Racing. “Back in the ‘glory days’ of the 1960s, with help from Chevrolet, he made headlines with his advanced concepts, many of which remain in use today. We are proud to have worked with Jim at such an important time in racing history.
“It is also an honor to support the RRDC Evening with Jim Hall. The RRDC has done much to mentor young drivers who seek to make a similar mark on the sport in the future, as Jim Hall had done in the past."
Added Bobby Rahal, president of the RRDC, “It’s like coming full circle to have Chevrolet support the RRDC Evening with Jim Hall presented by Firestone. We’re honored to have Chevrolet join the celebration to honor – as was said at the 1987 Chevrolet Legends of Performance ceremony – ‘a thinking driver who raced as much with his brain as with his hands, an engineer who brought theory down to practical application, a designer with a flair, a businessman who sought and achieved success and a sportsman who knew how and when to finish gracefully.’"
The dinner's proceeds will help support the RRDC’s young driver initiatives, including its groundbreaking www.SAFEisFAST.com program and the Team USA Scholarship, which the RRDC has backed since 1997. Previous banquets have honored Dan Gurney, Parnelli Jones and Roger Penske, drawing fans and luminaries from all forms of motorsports.
The RRDC Evening with Jim Hall will be held at the Hilton Hotel, 701 West Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, Calif., with cocktails at 6 p.m., and dinner at 7:15 p.m. This event is reaching toward capacity, but there are still a few seats available at $180 apiece. Reservations MUST be made in advance via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.