Hall's push for passing

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

Current page

163

Current page

164

Current page

165

Current page

166

Current page

167

Current page

168

Current page

169

Current page

170

Current page

171

Current page

172

Current page

173

Current page

174

Current page

175

Current page

176

Current page

177

Current page

178

Current page

179

Current page

180

At 73 Jim Hall is still as sharp as a tack. Hall is one of America’s greatest racing men. He was an accomplished driver until he badly broke his legs in a Can-Am accident in 1968, and was also the father of the legendary Chaparral race cars.

Born in Abilene, Texas, Hall (right) studied engineering before embarking on building and racing the remarkable line of Chaparral sports-racers. His increasingly innovative Chaparrals were what Can-Am was all about. Hall pioneered the development of wings and aerodynamics in racing with the high-winged 2E and 2G and the famous 2J ‘sucker car’, a skirted ground-effect car that was phenomenally fast but was banned at the end of 1970.

“I’ve often thought, Christ! What do we do about downforce today?” Hall ruminates. “When you were one of maybe the first people to have a really good understanding of it you thought, ‘Wow! What a wonderful thing.’ But when you think about the time, effort and money that’s spent today on these minute aerodynamic details trading off downforce and drag… It makes you wonder, was that a good idea, or not?

“There’s nothing you can do to keep people from doing things that they know about,” Hall adds. “You can make all kinds of rules and limit them in certain ways, but the best-financed teams are going to spend money on whatever they discern to be the biggest gain they can possibly make under the rules.”

The 2J was the end of the line in great white Chaparral Can-Am and long-distance sports cars, but Hall’s racing career continued for another quarter of a century. A partnership with Carl Haas, called Haas/Hall Racing, resulted in three consecutive US F5000 championships in 1974-76, with Brian Redman driving the team’s Lolas. In 1978 Hall went Indycar racing with a Lola T500 in which Al Unser won the Indy 500, as well as the Pocono and California 500s. Then in 1980 Johnny Rutherford won the Indy 500 and CART championship aboard the Chaparral 2K, a Lotus 79-like Indycar designed by John Barnard. Hall’s career as a team owner finally came to an end in 1996 after running Gil de Ferran in the first two years of the Brazilian’s Indycar career.

Hall admits that he doesn’t follow modern motor racing very closely, but he strongly believes the sport needs a serious shake-up. He believes some first principle thinking needs to be applied, rather than futzing with the details of the regulations like the FIA is doing with Formula 1 this year. Hall thinks the focus should be on the tyres.

“The one thing we had back in the earlier days of racing that I really pine for is passing,” says Hall. “It would make racing a hell of a lot more interesting if you had some passing on the track. A lot of it has to do with the tyres and nobody seems to focus on that aspect of it. They try to define the characteristics of the cars to build a bigger passing zone, which is fine.
I don’t object to that. But I think the tyres are one of the major factors in the whole thing. They need to reduce grip, to reduce the contact area and make it so the tyres have got to last the race with no pitstops. There would also be a cost reduction in equipment by cutting out the pitstops.”

Refuelling has already been outlawed for 2010 in F1, but Hall believes tyre changes should go, too. It’s been done before, of course. In 2005 drivers faced the prospect of racing the full distance with tyres they’d qualified on. The racing was indeed better, with Michelin gaining the advantage over Bridgestone as Ferrari’s form declined. Funnily enough, tyre changes were back for ’06. All in the name of safety, apparently.

Hall believes running a full Grand Prix without pitstops would accomplish a number of objectives. The tyres would have to be more durable, which should reduce the problem of off-line ‘marbles’ and make for a wider racing line with more options. It would also create more of a test for the driver to get the best from his tyres over a long period of time, as seen in 2005.
“Back when I was racing in the ’60s and the ’70s, there was more than one line and you could pass,” says Hall. “I know they introduced the pitstops to try to level the field and make some interest for the crowd, but back in the days when we used to run two-hour races without pitstops we had tyres that didn’t trash up the race track that much. Once you have pitstops during the race and real soft rubber, where it wears and gets on the track, you can’t get off-line and you can’t pass.

“Of course, if you talk to drivers and tyre companies they don’t want to hear about it. It’s hard to go down that path, but if you’re the race organiser and you’re looking for a better show, then I think you’ve got to put your head into some of the things that the drivers don’t like.” And now with only one tyre supplier in F1, it could make the change easier to accept.

“Another thing that has happened since I got involved and we started putting downforce on the cars is that it’s been optimised,” says Hall. “We haven’t changed the configuration of the cars in a long time. They’re all mid-engined, rear-drive, ground-effect cars that have been optimised. Nobody’s thought of a better idea and they’ve fixed the basic design of the cars.

“I don’t like that,” Hall adds. “If you could have room for a different tack on it, a different strategy to design the car, maybe it would be more fun for everybody. But I don’t know how to do it, I really don’t. Even the NASCAR folk have made their car the same for everybody. Times have changed, and maybe I’m too old to have the vision that it takes.”

Despite his self-deprecation Hall may have the right ideas for an addled sport. Anyone out there listening?

Related articles

Related products