- Louis Chevrolet
Louis-Joseph Chevrolet (
December 25, 1878, Bonfol, Canton of Jura, Switzerland- June 6, 1941, Detroit, Michigan), of French descent was a racing driverand a co-founder (with William C. Durant) of the Chevrolet Motor Car Company, which was acquired by General Motors and is their bestselling brand nationwide and in many cases synonymous with General Motors itself.
In 1886 his family left Switzerland to live in
Beaunein the Côte-d'Or"département" of France. It was there as a young man Louis developed his mechanical skills and interest in auto racing. He worked for the Roblin mechanics shop from 1895 to 1899 at which time he went to Pariswhere he worked for a short time before migrating to Montreal, Quebecin Canadain 1900. The following year, he moved to New York Citywhere he was hired by FIAT.
Buick, this mechanical genius with little in the way of a formal education learned car design and started designing his own engine for a new car in 1909. This, an overhead valvesix, he built in his own machine shopon Grand River Boulevard, Detroit. [Clymer, Floyd. "Treasury of Early American Automobiles, 1877-1925" (New York: Bonanza Books, 1950), p.179.] Shortly thereafter, he would partner with Durant to start the Chevrolet Motor Car Company there. Chevrolet had differences with Durant over the design and in 1915 sold Durant his share in the company. The next year, the company was folded into Durant's General Motors.
At that time, Chevrolet shifted into the racing car industry, partnering with Howard E. Blood of
Allegan, Michiganto create the Cornelian, a state of the art racing car which he used to place 20th in the 1915 Indy 500. In 1916, he and his younger brother Gaston started Frontenac Motor Corporation, designing and producing another line of racing cars. They became well-known for, among other things, their Fronty- Fordracers.
Louis also competed in the
Indianapolis 500four times, with a best finish of 7th in 1919. Younger brother Gaston won there in 1920 in a car Louis built, and brother Arthur also competed twice.
Louis Chevrolet died nearly penniless, and is buried in the Holy Cross and Saint Joseph Cemetery in
Indianapolis, Indiana. His bust stands at the entrance to the museum at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Indy 500 results
*In 1992, he was inducted into the
International Motorsports Hall of Fame.
*He was named to the National Sprint Car Hall of Fame in 1990.
*He was inducted in the
Motorsports Hall of Fame of Americain 1995.
*Clymer, Floyd. "Treasury of Early American Automobiles, 1877-1925". New York: Bonanza Books, 1950.
* [http://automotivehistoryonline.com/Chevrolet.htm Chevrolet History and Photos]
* [http://www.vanderbiltcupraces.com/index.php/drivers/driver/chevrolet Louis Chevrolet] (VanderbiltCupRaces.com)
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