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Surtees, Chaparral, CanAm 1969


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#1 Kpy

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 12:31

John Surtees drove the Chaparral 2H in several CanAm races in 1969. At Bridgehampton he went back to driving a McLaren. What were the problems that caused him to give up on Chaparral?
Can anyone help please?

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#2 petefenelon

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 13:19

Originally posted by Kpy
John Surtees drove the Chaparral 2H in several CanAm races in 1969. At Bridgehampton he went back to driving a McLaren. What were the problems that caused him to give up on Chaparral?
Can anyone help please?


Il Grande John hated almost everything about that car - the lack of visibility, the handling (possibly due to the very narrow track of the car?) and (probably) the fact that Jim Hall resented his attempt to provide engineering input. The aero concept was duff too - it was originally meant to be a wingless car and later sprouted quite the most gruesome wing I've ever seen.

Jim Hall was unable to do test driving as he'd injured himself quite badly at the end of the '68 season. I can imagine the tension between Surtees (great driver, frustrated engineer) and Hall (frustrated driver, great engineer)...



#3 2F-001

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 14:14

The McLaren was Hall's, with some Chaparral tweaks, and Surtees drove it early in the year before 2H made it's debut. The M12 appeared again later in the year driven by de Adamich (who had been driving a TS9 for Surtees in F5000). When 2H returned, Surtees drove again until the last race when Tom Dutton had a practice accident and the car didn't start.
Did Surtees drive another McLaren after the Chaparral?

2H was an interesting project and I think it may have gone a little better with some more consistent development. It was long time in gestation due, in part I think, to Hall's accident and the relatively complex construction. Seems Hall and Surtees never got along at all. 2H was originally intended to be a coupé and embodied all sorts of interesting features and ideas. It also, at some stage at least, had active (or rather re-active suspension) which was fairly advanced for the day. I think the huge (and faintly comical) centrally mounted wing was only used at the relatively low-speed Laguna Seca. I've read in articles from those days that 2H worked pretty well at the Chaparral test track, but never quite as well at the races.

There are one or two views in which 2H is quite beautiful, but they don't seem to be in the configuration in which it raced...! :)

#4 David Beard

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 18:11

I recently bought a rather nice book on the Can-Am series by someone called David McKinney.
One photo of Big John in the 2H is captioned: "Revolutionary 2H car was designed to run with driver below level of top deck. But John refused to drive it before a more conventional seating position was devised"

I'm not surprised. I can't imagine how it could ever have been driven with the driver buried inside. Do any photos exist of the thing being conducted in the envisaged mode?

#5 2F-001

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 18:35

I'm sure I have several pics that show it in 'coupe' guise (mostly during construction, I think). The only ones I have to hand at this minute are in Falconer/Doug N book. One of it running at Rattlesnake does look a bit strange - a bit like a 2-litre group 6 car with the driver, the rollover hoop and everything else up top missing. It's one of those grainy ''scoop'' shots so I'm not sure how it would survive scanning and e-mailing. (I don't currently have the means to upload an image).

Could you tell me more about David's Can Am book? I'm sure I don't have that.

#6 David M. Kane

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 22:16

I think Surtees or someone referred to it as the "Whale". I saw it race at
Mid-Ohio and its handling was horrible. It must have been very scary to drive. However, I thought it was pretty neat looking. I remember that it
was very loosely sprung as it had a LOT of body roll, etc. It also plexiglass side doors so you could see into the cockpit. I didn't realize until this post that Jim Hall really intended for the driver to be sitting so low. NO WAY JOSE!

Boy! I would love to have listened in on those conversations between Hall
and Big John...talk about a battle of two strong wills!

#7 Ray Bell

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 22:26

FJ was also into the 'constructor' class by this time, so apart from everything else he would have been pretty tense about all his business interests etc...

I found a year later that he was a bit difficult to talk to.

#8 BS Levy

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 22:39

Saw the 2H run at Road America and noticed it had about the same pilot visibility as the Spirit of St. Louis....

#9 2F-001

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 22:54

Now that would be a good excuse for driving sideways all the time!

#10 Frank S

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 22:55

I was able to spend some time in the garages and pits at the Riverside chapter of the 1969 Can-Am. The 2H was a real magnet, emanating innovation and expertise. And weirdness.

Surtees gave off some other kind of vibrations: an aura that kept everyone at a distance of a meter or more. When he spoke his head jerked as in recoil, and the crewmen working on the car cringed when the bullets flew. He was the most obviously dissatisfied person I remember seeing.

Lovely as it was, the car carried one set of pieces that made me chuckle, as I had seen them in the J.C. Whitney catalog. Planted in a flat area at the end of the smooth sweep from the front of the car, and just ahead of the carburetor intakes, were a dozen or so small chromed-plastic knobs, about an inch tall. Knobs as on a stove, cylinders with sides sliced off and a center section like a thick blade standing up from the circular base. The length of each blade was set at a different angle from the direction of travel.

It seemed clear to me that an undisturbed 200 MPH airflow over the top of the car was seen as a problem of some kind, and that J.C. Whitney had supplied the $1.98 potential solution.


Frank S

#11 WDH74

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Posted 19 March 2003 - 00:09

There are two rather funny pictures of this car in Pete Lyons' book Can-Am. The first is Surtees driving the 2H, and through those big side windows you can see him perched up on his seat, holding the steering wheel that's obviously been cranked up to a ridiculous angle. He looks just like a guy driving a bus. The second is a mechanic demonstrating the 2H's passenger "seating". Poor guy's wedged in next to Surtees' bus driver chair, looking up and to the side, through the plexiglass skylight where the driver's head goes. He looks absolutely miserable, and I still have not figured out how he got in there in the first place!
-William

#12 David M. Kane

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Posted 19 March 2003 - 00:53

The J.C. Whitney parts you are talking about are an outgrowth of Jim Hall's
fascination with aero solutions. Check the wings of an Boeing of that era
and you will see them all over the wings. At least, I think that is what
you are talking about because I remember seeing those too at Mid-Ohio.

The switch to the M12 was no more successful as that car was NO match to the factory cars...by a MILE! I saw Big John race that car too later in the season. I thought it was just because he was over the hill at that point in
his career. The truth of the matter was the man was lucky to be even alive
after the back flip he did at Mont Tremblant/St. Jovite.

#13 2F-001

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Posted 19 March 2003 - 07:17

I do apologise Kpy - you're quite right - I see from the race reports that Surtees did drive the M12 again after the 2H.
At the previous round at Elkhart Lake, the Chaparral was miles off the pace so I would imagine that the relative lack of performance and Surtees' mounting discontent with driving the thing (his discomfort, lack of visibility - which Hall said wasn't a problem for him in testing - it's unpredictable nature and enduring habit of lifting the inside wheels) led them to spend more time tweaking it... although for whatever reason, 2H's performance seemed to decline as the year went on.

To be fair to the M12 though, I thought those production cars were based essentially on the old M6A...? The factory were onto the second incarnation of the M8 by then... and the Chaparral M12 went better than most other stuff in the field.

#14 David M. Kane

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Posted 19 March 2003 - 20:59

For what it is worth, when John Barnard worked for Jim Hall on his Indy car, they too use to have huge disagreements. I gather that Mr. Hall has strong opinions and if he doesn't want to hear something, he doesn't want to hear it. Big John, though very opinionated himself was pretty damn crafty. The record on the Barnard Indy car speaks for itself and I think
John Barnard built upon the respect he got from that design very nicely,
thank you!

It is one thing to sit in a submarine and drive it around Rattlesnake Park
and quiet another to run in competition against Bruce, Deny et al. I SAW
the beast race and I guarantee you there would be some fairly large claw
marks in the tarmac if you tried to drag me over to it and tell me to drive
it in anger....NO WAY!

#15 Doug Nye

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Posted 19 March 2003 - 21:14

John's severe injuries were sustained in what was meant to be team-mate Jackie Stewart's Lola T70 during practice at Mosport Park, not Ste Jovite, and it was not a back flip aerodynamic accident - a sample American-made front hub had been fitted in error and it failed due to an essentially 'minor' manufacturing fault which dragged John off course under braking and left the car somersaulting down a trackside embankment. It rolled and landed on top of John's pelvis, crushing him half in and half out of the cockpit. I did an 'Autosport' story with him in 1970 in which he described the Chaparral as having been "without doubt the worst racing car it's even been my displeasure to sit in" - while Jim Hall - himself in no fit state after his severe Las Vegas injuries - later dismissed John as having been hopelessly self-opinionated, over the hill...and for having taken a dead set against the car from the start. Considering it was originally designed as a closed coupe with extremely restricted vision and ultra-narrow-track de Dion rear suspension it's a toss-up for whom one feels most sympathy.... We thought of asking Jim to let John drive the car at Goodwood but that was speedily dismissed as being simply too wicked .... :cool:

#16 Ray Bell

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Posted 19 March 2003 - 21:25

You know, Doug, I have never heard that before about the Mosport incident... in fact, I've read several times it was a backflip, and I seem to recall one report comparing it to similar incidents others had experienced... and one I'm sure specifically said that his speed was 'take-off speed for a T70.'

It was a terrible thing to happen at the time, because it put an end to our dreams of having him here for the Tasman Cup... no doubt he thought it was terrible for other reasons, of course.

#17 WDH74

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 00:39

I seem to remember reading that backflips over that hump in the back straight at Mosport were getting a little more common in the later days of the Can-Am championship, but I could be imagining that! (My only experience ofMosport is in Grand Prix Legends, and my Lotus will get a bit of air over that hill.)
-William

#18 David M. Kane

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 00:55

I had forgot about the de Dion rear suspension. Basically the whole design
was one of those way too bold with too many engineering endeavors going on
at once so there was no way the thing was ever going to get sorted. Does anyone have a picture of the car with its "final" ridiculous wing. It was
HUGE and totally ugly! What had started out as a slick interesting exercise
ended-up a real ugly duckling. Surely we need to know more about Hall's design philosophy for this car? Was it a desperation move to "catch-up" with the competition or what?

Does anyone have a photo of the car with its HUGE wing?

#19 2F-001

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 07:52

I have plenty of pics I can scan, but don't have the means to put them up on a site - I'd been hoping someone could post one during the recent 'wings' thread!

I think the big wing ("if it were any bigger they'd need to carry a stewardess'') only ran at Laguna Seca and in practice somewhere else (Riverside?).

I've kept plenty of articles - when I have a moment I'll search through for something that maybe has quotes from Jim and his team about 2H's design. As you say David, one has to wonder if it wasn't just too many steps too far all in one go...

The de Dion set up (a large box section rather than the traditional tube) had a hinge in the middle, just to meake it a bit less 'normal'.

Re: Surtees' accident - to be honest, until comments in this thread prompted me to go away and learn, I hadn't realised how serious his injuries were; that was '65 wasn't it? I read that he won his comeback race ( a wet Monza 1000km - does it really rain at Monza? It was springtime, I guess) and then of course the inaugural Can Am title so he was certainly up to it, although that kind of experience must take something out of you somewhere. What a remarkable man - I have a new measure of respect for Surtees now. I guess he just wasn't the right man for a partnership with Hall.

As David points out the Hall and Barnard partnership (two strong minds again) was fruitful, but I believe Barnard was a bit miffed at the time that he didn't feel he'd received due credit (publicly, I presume he meant) for 2K.

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#20 Ray Bell

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 08:48

Originally posted by 2F-001
I have plenty of pics I can scan, but don't have the means to put them up on a site - I'd been hoping someone could post one during the recent 'wings' thread!


Send me a couple and I'll post them for you, 2F...

raybell@mydotcomaddress.com

#21 David M. Kane

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 12:33

I got the impression from observations only that Jim Hall treated John Barnard like a step-child and that HE tried to steal all of John's thunder.
He seemed actually jealous of his obviously abilities/gifts. What a shame.

#22 biercemountain

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 12:50

Did Barnard design the Chapparal Indy car which brought ground effects to the Brickyard? If so, then it's my understanding that the car was more a copy of a Lotus 79 than some new concept that he'd developed.

No offense to John Barnard, I'm sure he's a great designer but ground effects within motorsport had already been on the scene for a few years. He just brought them to Indy.

As far as the 2H "White Whale" goes, it seems to have been the "pig of all pigs" as far as top level Can-Am constructors go. I know Stewart hated the Lola he drove one season but at least he was competitive. Poor John was NEVER even close to competitive in Jim Hall's creation.

#23 2F-001

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 12:50

I'm getting a bit lost now, David!  ;) I think that's the impression we all have regarding the 2K. A shame really, as you say.
(Edited for emoticon mishap)


#24 2F-001

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 13:02

Barnard played a mjor role in creating the Indy car, yes. I don't think I've heard anyone claim 2K to be an entirely new concept: making it work on a superspeedway must have been a slightly different task though.

#25 Jesper O. Hansen

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 14:55

Here's a link to a picture of the stewardess-less (unless you regard John Surtess as one) Chaparral at Laguna Seca 1969: http://www.clarben.c...etro69lag07.htm

I don't think it's ugly, but rather weird and wild in a manner no longer possibly!

Jesper O. Hansen

#26 biercemountain

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 15:58

Originally posted by Jesper O. Hansen
Here's a link to a picture of the stewardess-less (unless you regard John Surtess as one) Chaparral at Laguna Seca 1969:

I don't think it's ugly, but rather weird and wild in a manner no longer possibly!

Jesper O. Hansen


It looks like a modern Sprint Car (World of Outlaws) wing. Notice especially the large endplates unlike many early wings that had much smaller ones.

The classic Can Am was great. Even the cars that sucked were interesting.

#27 bs

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 17:39

Actually, that is one of the better angles for that car. I have an old pic from an instamatic camera, very small image, of the car being towed (just before the corkscrew). The wing was absurd even by the standards of the day.

I also recall reading (in R &T? C & D?) of a small light that would periodically flash (don't remember the exact location but visable through the side panel) and after seeing it flashing someone in the pits would grouse: "G******* John, it's an automatic!".

#28 Manfred Cubenoggin

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 21:47

I recall the Surtees shunt at Mosport for our GP, then for sports cars, in 1965. The next day, I was horrified to see a photo in Toronto's major daily, the Star, with poor John lying on the ground with the car upside down on top of him.

As for the blow-over at Mont Tremblant, I think you'll find that it was Hugh Dibley in a Lola T-70. All Lolas were shortly fitted with large chin spoilers to control the lift. A few years later, Jackie Oliver did the same in the Ti22 and destroyed the car. Jackie survived, of course, but I don't believe that the car ever surfaced again.

#29 Doug Nye

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Posted 20 March 2003 - 22:51

Paul Hawkins survived a back-flip Lola T70 shunt, I believe at Ste Jovite? Ex-team Lotus/Jim Clark mechanic Ced Selzer was looking after the car, and when Paul got back to the pits he showed Ced his crash helmet which had two or three different 'flats' worn into it by contact with the track surface as the car slithered along inverted with Paul trapped in the cockpit. Apparently he realised that his helmet was wearing through, so "I kept movin' me 'ead around to even out the wear before it went right through and started to grind away me scalp!".

Dear old 'Hawkeye'.

Now there was a Man...

DCN

#30 Ray Bell

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Posted 21 March 2003 - 10:20

Getting back on track... the earlier model Chap (2F) has sent me a couple of pics to post:

Posted Image

...and the piece de resistance...

Posted Image

#31 2F-001

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Posted 21 March 2003 - 10:24

Oops - off thread again!
On Doug's theme - April's issue of MotorSport has, in an article about Brian Redman, a picture of Brian's crash helmet bearing ''the scars of his Can Am flip at St Jovite'' ; it appears to be worn right through to the liner over an area the size of a tea-plate. Really makes you wince...

Co-incidentally, there is also a pic of him in the Jim Hall/Carl Haas 'Chaparral' Lola F5000. The car carries, in signwritten script, the legend ''owner - Carlton Beal'' ... what's the story there?



#32 Jim Thurman

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Posted 21 March 2003 - 22:35

Paul Hawkins and H.P.K. Dibley both happened at the same meeting!...

Aerodynamics be a fickle mistress.

Now, OT - and for a different thread, but I'd love to hear stories about Hawkins. What little I've heard has been great.


Jim Thurman

#33 David Beard

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Posted 24 March 2003 - 22:33

Originally posted by 2F-001


Could you tell me more about David's Can Am book? I'm sure I don't have that.


I've bought so many books lately as a joint result of EBay addiction and the desire to keep up with the folk at TNF, that I have a pile I've not read yet. David's Can Am book is one of them. But it looks good to me (I'm a sucker for artists profile drawings...there are a number of nice ones of those). Lovely Michael Turner Amon Ferrari rendition on the cover if you're looking out for it.

#34 David M. Kane

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 03:42

A picture is worth a 1,000 words...what an amazing set of wings. Take off those wings, fill in those "windows" and I think you've got a pretty, BUT
a scary car.

#35 rdrcr

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 06:19

John: I gotta tell ya Jim that &%^# piece of *&%#!! is all over the track... it just won't grip any&$^where!

Jim: We'll get that motherfather to stick...

*sounds of drilling eminate from the Hall shop* ... bang, hammer, hammer, roll, fab, fab, bang, drill ...

Result:

Posted Image

John: You gotta be *&%^%# kiddin!!!!

Jim: shaddap 'n drive!

#36 2F-001

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 07:40

Maybe it needed two - back and front - rather than just one in the middle...

#37 Viss1

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Posted 25 March 2003 - 13:56

Pete Lyons' Can Am opines that the aerodynamic issues with the 2H are a result of the late-development compromises made to appease Surtees. Perhaps the car would have worked (and looked) better if the original "sunken-driver" concept had been fully realized.

#38 Jesper O. Hansen

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Posted 04 December 2010 - 15:26

OT warning! The 2H was followed by the 2J "Sucker" car of 1970. Was there ever a 2I project? If I should guess, it would be the 1970 Trans-Am Camaro. The question is not mine, in fact, but from this Chaparral fan site:
http://www.thechapar...s.com/index.php

Jesper

#39 RA Historian

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Posted 04 December 2010 - 16:01

Co-incidentally, there is also a pic of him in the Jim Hall/Carl Haas 'Chaparral' Lola F5000. The car carries, in signwritten script, the legend ''owner - Carlton Beal'' ... what's the story there?

Similar to the "Boyd Jefferies" notation on the side of some works Can Am McLarens. A wealthy individual who wants to be in racing, and putting his money into a race team gets his name on the side of the car...

OT warning! The 2H was followed by the 2J "Sucker" car of 1970. Was there ever a 2I project? If I should guess, it would be the 1970 Trans-Am Camaro.
Jesper

My understanding is that there was no 2I because of the potential confusion with the number 21.
Tom

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#40 Jesper O. Hansen

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Posted 04 December 2010 - 17:08

My understanding is that there was no 2I because of the potential confusion with the number 21.
Tom


That assumption makes sence, but why was the ca. 1980 Champ Car named 2K? A car totally unrelated to earlier cars, but otherwise continuing the letter game? To turn the question around, had the 1970 Trans-Am Chevrolet Camaro a specific Chaparral code name? On the other hand, Jim Hall made destinctions between the front engined 1 and the center engined 2-generation cars sports cars ..and single seater..

Jesper

Edited by Jesper O. Hansen, 04 December 2010 - 17:13.


#41 RA Historian

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Posted 04 December 2010 - 19:24

The front engine Chaparral was coded "1" retroactively after the '2' came out. Before the 2, the five front engine sports racers were merely Chaparrals. I suspect, and I emphasize that this is opinion and not verified fact, that since the '1' sports racers were largely Troutman and Barnes creations and not the product of Hall's Midland, Texas, shops, that Hall chose to use the designation '2' for cars that were of his manufacture. Hence, all Chaparrals that sprang from Hall's fertile mind were coded with '2'. That was all Chaparrals from the 2 through the 2K. Note, there never was a Chaparral 2A. This has been a retroactive designation applied over the years in the press, but never sanctioned by Hall. In fact, he made the point in an interview a few years ago that his first rear engine sports racers, the three built in 1963-64, were simply Chaparral 2s, and he specifically said that they were not, nor was there ever, a 2A. But that is a trivia digression.

The ill-fated, and little seen, F-5000 car raced out of the Midland shop by Franz Weis in 1971 has been called a Chaparral 3, but I do not think that it ever was officially recognized as a Chaparral, although Competition Press and other periodicals of the day referred to it as such.

Tom

#42 AJB

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Posted 04 December 2010 - 19:34

There are two rather funny pictures of this car in Pete Lyons' book Can-Am. The first is Surtees driving the 2H, and through those big side windows you can see him perched up on his seat, holding the steering wheel that's obviously been cranked up to a ridiculous angle. He looks just like a guy driving a bus. The second is a mechanic demonstrating the 2H's passenger "seating". Poor guy's wedged in next to Surtees' bus driver chair, looking up and to the side, through the plexiglass skylight where the driver's head goes. He looks absolutely miserable, and I still have not figured out how he got in there in the first place!
-William

Those side 'windows' are doors!. Can-Am was open to 2-seater cars, open or closed (you will see GT40s and 917 Coupes taking part from time to time) but were not subject to the FIA rules about body dimensions, so no minimum overall height or need for a minimum height windscreen. I think the mechanic in the passenger seat was Franz Weis, as a similar photo was in Road & Track at the time with a caption saying something like "Show the man the door, Franz".
Symetrical windscreen openings only became a requirement in 1970, but I think a tonneau completely covering the passenger side would still not have been accepted in 1969, hence Jim Hall's contention that the 2H (as driven by Surtees) was not an open car but a coupe whose driver liked a bit of added ventilation and so there was no need to have an opening over the "passenger", thereby trying to retain as much as possible of the aerodynamic advantage of the original design.

Alan

#43 jj2728

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 00:53

Mid-Ohio 1969....I may be adding more....
Posted Image

#44 Jesper O. Hansen

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 03:26

Is that a threat :) ?!

Absolute wonderfull picture of the 2H. Having searched for a 1/32 slot car version of the Laguna Seca wing car, the barn dorr car would suffice.

Jesper

#45 jj2728

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 14:03

Posted Image

#46 jj2728

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 14:54

Posted Image

#47 B Squared

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Posted 05 December 2010 - 15:00

jj - thanks for taking the time to post all of the great photos you have from you and your father's archive in this and other threads. Really outstanding memories.

John Surtees at the rear in the last photo. Keep them coming please.

#48 Doug Nye

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Posted 06 December 2010 - 11:02

Posted Image

Posted Image

You know it makes sense... :cool:

Photos strictly Copyright: The GP Library

DCN

Edited by Doug Nye, 06 December 2010 - 11:14.


#49 Lee Nicolle

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Posted 06 December 2010 - 11:12

They stole the wing off of somebodys Supermodified/ Sprintcar!!

#50 AJB

AJB
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Posted 06 December 2010 - 12:44

Posted Image

Photos strictly Copyright: The GP Library

DCN

Looking at that photo you can see why John Surtees wasn't too impressed with the handling. What would it have been like without the big wing?
Alan