Chaparral Gallery Opens In Midland
© Andrew S. Hartwell
Among the American legends
of professional sportscar racing in the United States there stood
one tall Texan who engineered and built racecars that gave birth
to truly innovative practices in the field of chassis construction
and aerodynamics. That man was Jim Hall and his Chaparrals remain
some of the most revered racers of all time.
Hall ran his small team
out of a simple compound in the flat lands of Texas – essentially
a small cluster of steel buildings that included a few sheds and
a small structure in which his office was housed. In these austere
confines Hall created automobiles that were so cutting edge for
their time that some of his competitors never really understood
the principles he applied to the art of speed. And the ones who
did understand, never really seemed to be able to duplicate the
effectiveness his cars achieved on the racetrack.
advantage Hall enjoyed over his competitors, besides having the
financial resources to create cars from scratch, was having access
to his own private racetrack on which to test his ideas about wings
and spoilers and automatic transmissions. Rattlesnake Raceway was
what he called the track that he - and a group of like-minded oilmen,
including Hap Sharp - built on the grounds of the Chaparral Cars
compound. Dan Gurney, a man who often found himself racing against
Hall’s Chaparral creations, recently allowed as how Hall’s
cars always arrived at a race weekend ready to go. He gave a good
measure of the credit for that to Hall’s access to Rattlesnake
But Gurney holds no grudge
for Hall’s Success. In fact, he, along with other noted sportscar
greats Phil Hill, Brian Redman, Vic Elford, and Gil de Ferran, came
to Midland last week to honor Hall at the grand opening of the Chaparral
Gallery. This is the new, permanent home for Hall’s creations.
Located within the Petroleum Museum, this is an impressive facility
that is just a few miles from Hall’s shop.
events included a celebrity golf tournament, tours of the Chaparral
Cars compound, a ride around Rattlesnake Raceway and a press conference.
On the last day of a three-day celebration of the man and his machines,
the general public was invited to attend the official grand opening,
replete with many festive activities. The most enjoyable of these
was the arrival of Hall driving the 2F. With a police escort, Hall
drove five miles on public roads to deliver the car, from his Chaparral
Cars compound to the museum staff.
In the vernacular of
another great American institution – baseball – the
gallery has hit a home run. Visitors are sure to feel a real sense
of the pride and engineering genius Jim Hall – and his dedicated
support team – applied to their creations.
But will the
white wonders ever be seen on the track again? Hall commented that
he would very much like to see the museum allow his cars a chance
to spread their wings again to once more thrill the fans. Perhaps
a select vintage event or two may be in their future? Those of us
who saw these beautiful cars perform in their prime would certainly
want to be there again when they do take flight.
from the opening of the Gallery here.