Chevy scorches the virtual track with the laser-powered Chaparral 2X
After seeing Chevy's sneak preview of the Chaparral 2X Vision Gran Turismo, we got the idea that it was going to be the most extreme Vision Gran Turismo yet, both in terms of styling and technology. We weren't disappointed when Chevy pulled the cloth off at the LA Auto Show last week. The radical racer uses a highly conceptual laser powertrain to rattle the track with 900 hp of thrust.
The 2X is a futuristic homage to the past collaboration between Chevy and Chaparral Racing, a partnership that pioneered a few racing technologies nearly half a century ago that still seem futuristic today. Chevy and Chaparral pushed the boundaries – sometimes too far for racing regulatory bodies – advancing key design technologies, including composite monocoque chassis construction, lightweight-alloy powertrains and automatic racing transmissions. The all-new 2X channels that past into a design for the future, a car that pays no mind to the limitations of racing regulation.
"It was created in a no-rules atmosphere to challenge designers and test engineers to deliver the most exhilarating sensations; this is a fantasy car by design," explains Frank Saucedo, director of GM's Advanced Design Center. "Like the original Chaparral race cars decades ago, the Chaparral 2X VGT weaves advanced aerospace technologies into the design to help achieve its performance goals."
Looking from above at the 2X's fuselage and extended appendages, the car takes on the rough shape of a person with arms and legs outstretched. That's no coincidence; the race car is actually built around a prone drive position, in which the driver lays belly down with arms and legs stretched toward the wheels. In place of an instrument panel, key drive information is delivered via the head-up display on his helmet.
"Think of it as adapting a wing suit to a racing car, where the driver’s movements control certain aspects of the aero package," says Saucedo. "In many ways, the Chaparral 2X VGT is like racing wing suit, with a protective fuselage for ‘flying’ very low to the ground."
The skeletal composite chassis and active, driver-controlled aerodynamics eliminate the need for larger, heavier aero components like wings, helping keep weight down. Chevy doesn't specify the fighting weight of the 2X, but to see it is to believe that it is very light, even when compared to the already feathery weights of other race cars.
The look of the 2X is unconventional, but things get really weird when it comes to the powertrain. The car builds forward momentum from a mid-mounted laser propulsion system inspired by space-travel research. Wired to a lithium-ion battery pack, the 671-kW laser "pulses beams of light that focus in a shroud, creating shock waves that generate tremendous thrust." With help from an air generator, that laser system develops up to 900 hp of thrust, which translates into 240 mph (386 km/h) of video-game track speed. In this virtual world, the car can hit 60 mph (96.5 km/h) in just 1.5 seconds.
These projected numbers are reminiscent of another virtual Gran Turismo race car inspired by Chaparral's work from the 1960s and 70s. The X2010 S.Vettel that we checked out at Red Bull's Hangar-7 museum dialed up crazy projected acceleration times and speeds with help from a fan-assisted downforce system similar to the quickly banned system Chaparral introduced on its 2J car.
We're guessing there's not much of a real-life future for a race car that has a prone driver firing lasers out his ass, but Gran Turismo 6 players will soon be able to race the video game version. It will become available in an update during the holiday season.
Despite designing what's easily the most outlandish virtual racer in the Vision Gran Turismo lineup, Chevy was one of the automakers to build its vision into life. Check out the Chaparral 2X's every component and angle in our gallery from the LA Auto Show and learn a bit more in the six-minute video below.