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Old 05-22-2013
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Re: The ONE and ONLY Happy Birthday Thread!

HBD Colin Chapman (1928-1982), founder of Lotus Cars in 1952 and the man whose famous quote “simplify and add lightness” became the mantra for all successful racing car design. Many of the greatest F1 drivers of all time were associated with Lotus, including Jim Clark, Graham Hill, Stirling Moss, Jochen Rindt, Mario Andretti and John Surtees. From Wikipedia --

In 1952 Chapman founded the sports car company Lotus Cars. Chapman initially ran Lotus in his spare time, assisted by a group of enthusiasts. His knowledge of the latest aeronautical engineering techniques would prove vital towards achieving the major automotive technical advances he is remembered for. He was famous for saying "Adding power makes you faster on the straights. Subtracting weight makes you faster everywhere", as his design philosophy focused on cars with light weight and fine handling instead of bulking up on horsepower and spring rates.

Under his direction, Team Lotus won seven Formula One Constructors' titles, six Drivers' Championships, and the Indianapolis 500 in the United States, between 1962 and 1978. The production side of Lotus Cars has built tens of thousands of relatively affordable, cutting edge sports cars. Lotus is one of but a handful of English performance car builders still in business after the industrial decline of the 1970s.

In 1948 Chapman started with the Mk1, a modified Austin 7, which he entered privately into local racing events. He named the car "Lotus"; he never confirmed the reason but one (of several) theories is that it was after his then girlfriend (later wife) Hazel, whom he nicknamed "Lotus blossom". With prize money he developed the Lotus Mk2. With continuing success on through the Lotus 6, he began to sell kits of these cars. Over 100 were sold through 1956. It was with the Lotus 7in 1957 that things really took off, and indeed Caterham Cars still manufacture a version of that car today – the Caterham 7; there have been over 90 different Lotus 7 clones, replicas and derivatives offered to the public by a variety of makers.

Chapman at the wheel of one of his ownLotus Eleven sports cars, during practice for the 1956 British Grand Prix Formula Tworace at Silverstone Lotus Development Director Mike Costin on left holding notes. Chief Mechanic John Crosthwaite on right leaning on car.
In the 1950s, Chapman progressed through the motor racing formulae, designing and building a series of racing cars, sometimes to the point of maintaining limited production as they were so successful and highly sought after, until he arrived in Formula One. Besides his engineering work, he also piloted a Vanwall F1-car in 1956 but crashed into his teammate Mike Hawthorn during practice for the French Grand Prix at Reims, ending his career as a race driver and focusing him on the technical side. Along with John Cooper, he revolutionised the premier motor sport. Their small, lightweight mid-engined vehicles gave away much in terms of power, but superior handling meant their competing cars often beat the all-conquering front engined Ferraris and Maseratis. Eventually, with legendary driver Jim Clark at the wheel of his race cars, Team Lotus appeared as though they could win whenever they pleased. With Clark driving the legendary Lotus 25, Team Lotus won its first F1 World Championship in 1963. It was Clark, driving a Lotus 38 at the Indianapolis 500 in 1965, who drove the first ever mid-engined car to victory at the fabled "Brickyard." Clark and Chapman became particularly close and Clark's death in 1968 devastated Chapman, who publicly stated that he had lost his best friend.

Chapman’s racing car designs were pioneering, iconic and frequently beautiful, but his minimalist design philosophy sometimes compromised reliability and driver safety. Chapman's notebook from 1975, recently on display at the Frankfurt Motor Show, sheds light on a man for whom failure was simply not an option. With a chilling brevity Chapman notes, "A racing car has only one objective: to win motor races. If it does not, it is nothing but a waste of time and money. It does not matter how ... safe it is, if it does not consistently win it is nothing." These words were written only a few years after Chapman's great friend and champion driver Jim Clark died due to what many think was a technical fault with his car. Clark's successor, Jochen Rindt, wrote to Chapman saying his Lotus would still be competitive if a few pounds were added to make it stronger. This plea wasn't heeded and, soon after, Rindt shared Clark's tragic fate.

Many of Chapman's ideas can still be seen in Formula One and other top-level motor sport (such as IndyCars) today.
He pioneered the use of struts as a rear suspension device. Even today, struts used in the rear of a vehicle are known as Chapman struts, while virtually identical suspension struts for the front are known as MacPherson struts that were invented 10 years earlier in 1949.

His next major innovation was the introduction of monocoque chassis construction to automobile racing, with the revolutionary 1962 Lotus 25 Formula One car. The technique resulted in a body that was both lighter and stronger, and also provided better driver protection in the event of a crash. Although a new concept in the world of motorsport, the first vehicle to feature such a chassis was the road-going 1922 Lancia Lambda. Lotus had been an early adopter of this technology with the 1958Lotus Elite. The modified monocoque body of the car was made out of fibreglass, making it also one of the first production cars made out of composite materials.

When American Formula One driver Dan Gurney first saw the Lotus 25 at the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort, he was so struck by the advanced design that he invited Chapman to the 1962 Indianapolis 500, where Gurney made his Indy début at the wheel of a space-frame rear engined car designed by John Crosthwaite (who had previously worked for Chapman) and built by American hot-rodder Mickey Thompson. Following the race, Chapman prepared a proposal to Ford Motor Company for an aluminium monocoque Indianapolis car using a 4.2-litre aluminium V-8 Ford passenger car engine. Ford accepted the proposal. The Lotus 29 debuted at Indianapolis in 1963, with Jim Clark finishing second. This design concept fairly quickly replaced what had been for many decades the standard design formula in racing-cars, the tube-frame chassis. Although the material has changed from sheet aluminium to carbon fibre, this remains today the standard technique for building top-level racing cars.

Inspired by Jim Hall, Chapman was among those who helped introduce aerodynamics into Formula One car design. Lotus used the concept of positive aerodynamic downforce, through the addition of wings, at a Tasman Formula race in early 1968, although Ferrari and Brabham were the first to use them in a Formula One race at the 1968 Belgian Grand Prix. Early versions, in 1968 and 1969, were mounted 3 feet (0.91 m) or so above the car, in order to operate in 'clean air' (air that would not otherwise be disturbed by the passage of the car). The underdesigned wings and struts failed regularly, however, compelling the FIA to require the wing mounting hardware to be attached directly to the sprung chassis. Chapman also originated the movement of radiators away from the front of the car to the sides, to decrease frontal area (lowering aerodynamic drag) and centralising weight distribution. These concepts remain features of virtually all high performance racing cars today.

Chapman was also an innovator in the business end of racing. He was among the first entrants in Formula One to turn their cars into rolling billboards for non-automotive products, initially with the cigarette brands Gold Leaf and, most famously, John Player Special.
Chapman was named a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1970. He was inducted in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame in 1994. He was inducted in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America in 1997.
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