Jim Hall, creator of the legendary Chaparrals and the man who gave Gil de Ferran his first Indycar drive, was the honoree during festivities surrounding de Ferran’s final race as a driver at Laguna Seca’s American Le Mans Series finale. After beginning his Indycar career with Hall’s team in 1995, the Paris-born Brazilian went on to collect a dozen Indycar wins—including the 2003 Indy 500—and two National Championships before retiring after the 2003 season.
He then staged a comeback in sports cars by forming his own team to contest the ALMS with Acura in 2008. He’s now hung up his helmet a second time, and again done it in style, taking both pole and victory in his final race, just as he did in Indycars six years ago.
“One of the things I always enjoyed about Gil,” said Hall, “was his interest in the cars and his really strong work ethic. He always wants to do the best he can for the team and himself, and it’s a real joy to work with someone like that. It’s very nice that Gil chose to honor me in some way at what’s obviously a very special event for him. We certainly had a good run with him and he did a great job for us. He kindly gives me a lot of credit for the part I played in boosting his career along, but Gil did it for himself. I greatly appreciate the fact that he’s thankful for the part I played.”
Hall brought along his Chaparral 2 and 2E, as well as the 1995 Reynard in which de Ferran scored his first Indycar win, appropriately enough at Laguna Seca. The two men made several demonstration laps on the Thursday of race weekend, and the Chaparrals remained on display in the paddock throughout. De Ferran, who’s used Hall’s number 66 in Jim’s honor since starting his team, painted his Acura white for the occasion.