Ground(ed) Effects

Indycar and general autosport opinion

1979 – Pennzoil Chaparral

The very car from which this blog derives its name and first I saw live in an Indy 500.  While reading about this car in Sports Illustrated (I think it was), I realized this car was the ‘next wave’ of Indy cars which was the beginning of the ground effect era.

Sleek and fast and in the brightest yellow than I’d ever seen, this chassis still holds my title for ‘best looking Indycar nosecone’.  My dad was an Al Unser fan (which pretty much made me al Al Unser fan), and for Al to not win in 1979 with this superior machine was disappointing to the extreme.  That winter I made my Pinewood Derby car in it’s color and numbering treatment.  To see it one year later with the angular red 4 on that nose and some guy named Rutherford driving into victory lane was, to me, a jab that the fates could’ve done without.  That Chaparral that sits in the IMS Hall of Fame museum will always be the No. 2 Pennzoil car in my mind.

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