July 23: Jim Hall, builder of the Chaparral race team, was born on this day in 1935


Texan Jim Hall was pretty good as racers go, but as an engineer and team owner, he's one of the all-time greats. It was Hall who first took a systematic approach to finding engineering solutions to some of the long-standing challenges in race cars, reflected in the Chaparral 2-series cars of the 1960s with everything from adjustable aerodynamics to fiberglass frames. The tall wings shown on the 2G at Laguna Seca in this 1966 photo could be moved for either greater downforce or less drag — an innovation that was later banned by most race series. Hall's push for innovation was so strong it often knocked him out of races, and led him to quit Can-Am after it banned his "sucker" car that used a fan to vacuum itself to the track — but every modern professional race car can trace some of its speed back to him. Here's a collection of his cars back at Laguna Seca in 2005: