Thursday, October 30, 2014

Team ChEaparral Donates 1986 "Sucker Vette"

One of our top priorities at the National Corvette Museum is to create opportunities that will inspire, educate and engage young minds. The automobile, and Corvette in particular, is in itself the ideal classroom combining art, science, cultural trends, commerce and innovative thinking into what truly is a marvel of human ingenuity. So what better place is there than the Museum to introduce students of all ages to the technologies that go into it?

We often attract like-minded people and organizations who are also on a mission to ignite the imaginations of tomorrow’s innovators. Such was the case last Friday when the members of Team ChEaparral donated their 1986 ChEaparral J2J “sucker Vette” to the Museum.

Part fun, part engineering exercise, and part financial challenge, this was a project taken on by a group of engineers from Proctor & Gamble, looking to come up with an entry to compete in the $2007 Grassroots Motorsports Challenge. The goal for this contest was to build a car for under $2,007 that they could enter in a variety of competitions.

With the challenge of doing this on the cheap, they found a wrecked Corvette in a barn for $1400. It already had a hole in the hood so they cut it out further to make room for twin turbos that gave it an extra 100 horses.

Because they couldn’t get fast enough in an autocross to generate downforce in the usual way, they came up with another idea to get more grip inspired by the Jim Hall vacuum enhanced Chaparral 2J from the 1970’s. For their CHEAParral version of Jim’s car, they rigged up a skirt under the car connected to a cooling fan from an Abrams tank installed in the passenger seat. They powered the fan with a snowmobile engine, to create so much suction that you can actually see the car being pulled to the ground. They wound up getting around 1000 pounds of downforce while making quite a spectacle of themselves for the crowds. With a beer keg for a gas tank designed to keep the engine from being gas starved in the hard turns, they were ready to see what they could do with this car.

They competed against 50 others, winning the autocross, concourse, best-engineered award, top finishing team and the 2007 Challenge Overall Champion award. Having succeeded in their goal of making this car a winner, the question eventually came up of what should happen to the car.

“It is sad for us to let the car go, but we are happy that the car is coming here,” says Cliff Papsdorf when he handed over the keys. “The National Corvette Museum is the perfect home for it.”

The team hopes that the ChEaparral will show future generations what a group of people can make happen with hard work, a good education, and a focused devotion to a cause.