Tim's Forza History Class
The Chaparrals of Jim Hall and Hap Sharp were ahead of their time. The cars were not only potent racing machines; they were also rolling experiments for aerodynamics and Chevrolet drivetrain and suspension components. Many of the aerodynamic principles discovered on the Chaparral 2E, for example, are still in use by modern race car designers. Things like, mounting the rear wing directly to the chassis or suspension uprights, this more directly converts that downforce energy into usable traction.
Another major innovation was moving the radiator from the nose to the sides, just behind the driver, this allowed for a lower nose thus lowering the aerodynamic drag and lowering the center of gravity on the car for improved handling and speed. The one innovation that ultimately led to the demise of the 2E was also the most noticeable aspect of the car; that giant rear wing.
Although the rest of the competitors in the 1967 Can-Am season were running manual transmissions, the 2E used a Chevrolet 3-speed automatic. However, a glance into the cockpit of the 2E would reveal that there were still three pedals. Instead of operating a clutch, the left side pedal, when pressed, would close the nose vents and level out the massive rear wing, reducing drag. This resulted in higher straightaway top speeds. When entering a corner, the driver would simply release the pedal to get as much downforce from the nose and the tilted wing as possible.
The 2E’s only win came at Laguna Sece in 1967 in the hands of Phil Hill. Although it only achieved one win, the 2E set several top speed and fast lap times that season. The 2E did not return to competition the following year due to a new rule that stated all aerodynamic pieces were to remain fixed, meaning that wings and vents could not be altered while that car was in motion. This very rule still stands in most major forms of auto racing, thanks largely to the Chaparral 2E.