Through the Esses - The Chaparral Gallery to Open in April
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© Andrew S. Hartwell

"I was fortunate enough to be able to drive the Chaparral with the automatic transmission and, in my opinion, it was the greatest race car that was ever built." - Roger Penske

This quote appears in professional photographer and writer Dave Friedman's wonderful book, Chaparral Can-Am & Prototype Race Cars, (published by Motorbooks International in 1998.)

I say wonderful, for starters, because the content of the book is outstanding, with Friedman's amazing collection of images from sportscar races held long ago (during sportscar racings 'golden era' - the late '50s and early '60s) a magnificent feast for the eyes and the hearts of us 'senior' sportscar racing fans. And he supplements those images with quotes like the one above, from the people who were involved with the success of - or tried very hard to beat - Texan Jim Hall's magnificent Chaparrals.

Throughout the book, Friedman's captions for his mostly black and white photos tell a story of the times in which Jim Hall raced. And they speak of the success enjoyed by the cars he designed and named after a bird that still roams -at speed - the vast lands of Texas today. (Think Wile E. Coyote and the Road Runner cartoons.) He called his creations "Chaparrals".

The content of the book is key, but the subject is what first draws you to the volume. But why would the accomplishments of a Texas oilman pique the interest of race fans you ask? The answer is because Jim Hall - a tall engineer / oil man / driver / designer and constructor - created some amazing sportscars that broke new ground in the field of aerodynamics. And he ran those beautiful white-winged wonders out of his Midland, Texas facility that he named "Rattlesnake Raceway."

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