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Chaparral leads 'American Specials' as featured marque for 2005 Monterey Historics

 


  • The 32nd Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races Presented by Chrysler will feature Jim Hall's famed Chaparral cars as well as the so-called American Specials, a group of independently built road racing cars from a bygone era.

Chaparral, one of the truly great names in American racing history, will be the featured marque of the 32nd Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races to be staged August 19-21 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The legendary American marque will be part of the event's overall tribute to the "Great American Specials."

While the major manufacturers have long been the dominant force in automobile racing, individual efforts in the American tradition of championing the underdog have produced special cars to challenge the "big guns" over the years. Perhaps no one represented the ingenuity of this industry more than Jim Hall and Chaparral Cars.

Hall, along with fellow racer Hap Sharp, started a small racing team in 1962 in Midland, Texas, naming the team Chaparral, the Spanish word for road runner, a common bird in West Texas. They designed, built and tested a series of innovative and powerful race cars on a private two-mile test track behind their garages named Rattlesnake Raceway.

It is a bold statement, but nonetheless true, to say that Hall revolutionized the sport of auto racing in the 1960s. He introduced the first movable wing in 1965 and his work with aerodynamic wings, ground effects and lightweight construction materials transformed auto racing.

At a time when many of the great race cars were designed and built in Europe, their success gave American race fans a team to cheer for. While Chaparral Cars enjoyed many victories all over the world, maybe the most prestigious win came when Johnny Rutherford drove a Chaparral 2K to victory in the 1980 Indianapolis 500.

"Jim Hall and his Chaparral cars certainly set the standard in racing during their time," said Monterey Historics founder Steve Earle. "And that was around the world, not just in the United States. Their innovative design, preparation and presentation caught the imagination of race fans across the country that grew into a true fan club. They certainly represent the ultimate in American specials."

Most of the original Chaparral cars are currently on display in a special Chaparral Wing of the Petroleum Museum in Midland, and will be appearing at the event this August.

"The first cars, known as the Chaparral 1, were designed and built by Troutman and Barnes in California and are now owned by private enthusiasts" said Earle. The cars designed and built by Chaparral Cars in Midland, known as Chaparral 2s, are now part of the Petroleum Museum in Midland. I am very grateful to them for their support in making this tribute possible."

Names such as "The Ardent Alligator," The BuMerc, ONO, "Old Grey Mare," Tahis Special, Ol Yeller, and Baldwin Special achieved their place in motor racing history as did Miller, Kurtis, Edwards, Cunningham, Scarab and Chaparral. The creative talents and the motivation to win of individuals like Max Balchowsky, Roger Barlow, Sterling Edwards, Frank Kurtis, John Fitch, Jack Hagemann, Dick Troutman and Tom Barnes, Ken Miles, Miles and Sam Collier, Briggs Cunningham, Brooks Stevens, Lance Reventlow and Jim Hall, have brought a uniquely American element to the world of motor racing.

"The best of the American specials are treasures sought after by individual collectors and museums alike and an historic gathering of these unique machines is anticipated for what has become the premier vintage event in the U.S.," said Earle, whose organization, General Racing, Ltd., founded the Monterey Historic Automobile Races in 1974.

Featured displays will include the Rolex Moments in Time, presenting eight significant cars representing important moments in racing history. The Chrysler Heritage and Product Displays will include racing cars from its past as well as concept cars of the future. And, other manufacturers will again make their presence felt with unique presentations in the paddock.

Four hundred racing cars from the early 1900s to the 1980s are expected to take part in the weekend's activities. The entries will be divided into 14 racing groups, with seven groups competing on Saturday and seven on Sunday, creating a different show each day.

"The concept of the Rolex Monterey Historics is to focus on the history of motor racing by encouraging the preservation of racing cars and putting them on display in an appropriate manner and setting for enthusiasts of present and future generations to see and enjoy," Earle said. "From its inception, fans have been treated to a steady presentation of the most famous racing cars in history along with the personalities who designed, built and drove them. Year after year, through the "Featured Marque" and "Special Tributes" programs, the celebration leaves spectators and participants with a lasting, positive impression."

Aston-Martin, Auto-Union, Allard, Alfa-Romeo, Bentley, Bugatti, BMW, Cunningham, Chevrolet, Corvette, Ferrari, Ford, Jaguar, Lotus, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Miller, MG, Porsche and Shelby have all been "Featured." Juan Manuel Fangio, the five time World Champion and considered by many as the
greatest driver in history, was also "Featured," the only individual so honored.

Phil Hill, Jackie Stewart, Danny Sullivan, Dan Gurney, Carroll Shelby, Tom Sneva, Joe Leonard, Bill Pollack, Paul Frere, Roy Salvadori, Maurice Trintignant, David Brown, Stirling Moss, Froilan Gonzalez, Niki Lauda, Piero Ferrari, Nelson Piquet, Tony Rolt, Bob Tullius, Zora Duntov, John Fitch, Jack Fairman, Milt Minter, Ritchie Ginther, Hans Herrmann, Parnelli Jones, George Follmer, Bud Moore, Luigi Chinetti, Briggs Cunningham, Hermann Lang, Bobby Rahal, Marc Surer, Bill Stroppe and John Wyer are just few of the names of the sport who have been present over the years.

Tickets for the 32nd Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races Presented by Chrysler are available by calling 1-800-327-SECA (7322) or logging on to www.laguna-seca.com.

 

 

 

 

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