Monday, March 2, 2009

More Jim Hall ( The Chaparral 2J "The Sucker Car" )

As un-race-car-like as it appears, this angular, boxy car built for the 1970 Can-Am series was designed to create immense down-force independent of speed.  With two 17" fans driven by a second engine mounted at the rear of the car, the 2J earned the name "sucker car' as it literally sucked air from under the car and forced it out the back, thus creating a vacuum that held the 2J on the track surface. This downforce increased grip to the tires independently of the car's forward motion, and allowed the car to corner faster in both slow and high-speed turns. To create a seal between the car and the road, sliding polycarbonate skirts were placed around the bottom edge of the car and maintained a constant gap to the ground. Theoretically, enough suction could be generated by the fans to hold the car upside down on the ceiling of a room. The airflow generated by the fans alone could propel the car up to speeds of 40mph or more. 

In its first race, the 2J recorded the fastest lap at Watkins Glen, New York, and then earned the pole position in every other race it entered. In fact, it was so fast that the FIA officials banned the 2J at the end of the 1970 Can-Am season because the sliding polycarbonate skirts were said to be in violation of the "moveable aerodynamic ban" ; thus ending the car's career at its Dawn of Victory. 

"If I come up with a better mousetrap that is within the guidelines of the regulations, than I ought to be able to use it." - Jim Hall in 1970 commenting on the 2J's ended career. 

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