Jim Hall’s Chaparrals were a huge influence on myself and many other designers. Chaparrals were innovative, leading edge designs with mysterious connections to General Motors. Big-block starships.

I grew up in Riverside, California, and when the USRRC or CANAM came to town I was at the Riverside International Raceway taking home movies (you can watch a compilation of the movies I shot back in the day here). During the week leading up to race weekend, I’d drive through local motel parking lots to see if I could spot any race cars or trailers with Texas plates. Once I went over to DeAnza Chevrolet before they moved to the Auto Center and managed to watch (through the fence) the Chaparral team work on the cars in one of the garages. Pretty cool stuff for a car crazy teenager. In 1968 I traveled to Las Vegas with friends to watch the Stardust Grand Prix, and witnessed (through binoculars) Hall’s horrible crash with Lothar Motschenbacher’s McLaren M6B.

In 2005 I had the opportunity to visit the Chaparral Exhibit at the Petroleum Museum in Midland, Texas. It’s well worth a visit, hollowed ground for Chaparral enthusiasts.

Petroleum Museum Gallery

Photos by Gary D. Smith

Ed Welburn drives the Chaparral 2.

Several years ago Ed Welburn had the opportunity to drive a Chaparral around the Tech Center. Had I known that was a possibility, I’d have stayed at GM and competed for the top spot.

  1. My Chevy Monza was almost names a Chaparalle after Jim Hall’s beautiful cars. Too bad Jim and Chevrolet couldn’t agree on a dollar figure to use the name. The idea died a slow death and Chevrolet brought back the Monza nameplate, hoping most had forgotten the Corvair by then.
    This page on my website outlines the deal, or lack thereof …

  2. Larry Crane

    Hi Gary,

    We communicated briefly when I first discovered Dean’s Garage. Did we talk about Riverside? I just noticed you lived there during the CanAm and TransAm years. I lived in Pete Brock’s house behind turn 9 on Cottonwood Ave for 5 years—’64-69. We could see all of Riverside Raceway, except for the top of the esses, from our sofa. Love your website. Thanks for all you work on behalf of the rest of us.

    Larry Crane

  3. Hi Gary, yet another great Dean’s Garage! thank you. Love the Jim Hall footage too. My brother Richard wrote the first book on the Chaparral (check out the book if you haven’t seen it already), and I took all the colour pics for the book on 35mm in Midland TX in 1985. We had previously spent a day at his shop in 1977 – nothing much changed in that period. Richard owns the 5th of five Troutman and Barnes front-engined Chaparrals, which he races in historic speed hill climbs and has twice been in the Goodwood Festival of Speed. I attach a picture taken in our yard last week while we did some work restoring the original ‘ball & slot’ 1961 4-speed shifter.

  4. Walter Gomez

    Beautiful race cars! I only wish that some of the old racing grime was left on the cars, particularly the 2D & 2F!

  5. Tom Matano

    Great! Love the video of Ed driving fast along the lake. It brought back memories of Mitchell and Chuck….driving down the same stretch

    Always Inspired

    Tom Matano

    Executive Director
    School of Industrial Design
    Academy of Art University

  6. One word: WOW. THis is DREAM stuff! Especially the video. Of course I adored Jim Hall’s magical race cars all during their era. It was one of my personal edge-of-seat anticipations awaiting the next car in the line. And… they were not just advanced in technology and performance, but they were pretty! Each succeeding car was more amazing than its predecessor.

    Also I love seeing the red Cox decal on the car. To this day, I still have my Cox and other Chaparral slot cars of the 1960s. Many still in the original boxes.

    Finally, Larry Crane’s comment on Riverside Raceway… ohhhh does that bring back a lot of memories!

    Ahh, the glory days of GM, American cars, American race cars, Riverside Raceway and the auto industry in general. Jim Hall and his cars have my permanent respect and admiration.

    Leon Dixon
    Leon Dixon & Associates Automotive Consultants

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