Wednesday, June 6, 2018

"Auto Builder & Indy 500 Winner" Louis Chevrolet Dies - June 6, 1941

December 25, 1878 - June 6, 1941
Louis-Joseph "Louis" Chevrolet
Born in Northwestern Switzerland.
In 1905 he was hired by FIAT as a racing car driver and a year later became employed by a Philadelphia company developing a revolutionary front-wheel-drive racing car. His racing career continued as he drove for Buick, becoming a friend and associate of Buick owner William C. Durant, founder of General Motors. He raced at the Giants Despair Hillclimb in 1909.

With little in the way of formal education, Chevrolet learned car design while working for Buick and started designing his own engine for a new car in 1909. He built an overhead valve six-cylinder engine in his own machine shop on Grand River Boulevard in Detroit, Michigan. He was a co-founder of the Chevrolet Motor Car Company in 1911.

By the mid-1910s, Louis Chevrolet had shifted into the racing car industry, partnering with Howard E. Blood of Allegan, Michigan, to create the Cornelian racing car, which he used to place 20th in the 1915 Indianapolis 500 automobile race. In 1916, he and younger brothers Gaston and Arthur Chevrolet started Frontenac Motor Corporation, designing and producing a line of racing cars. They became well known for, among other things, their Fronty-Ford racers.
From left, Louis, Arthur and Gaston.
Louis drove in the Indianapolis 500 four times, with a best finish of 7th in 1919. Both Louis and Gaston competed successfully with racing Sunbeams achieving a number of third places in 1916. Arthur competed twice, and Gaston won the race in 1920 in one of their Frontenacs, going on to win the 1920 AAA National Championship.

Chevrolet died on June 6, 1941, in Detroit and is buried in the Holy Cross and Saint Joseph Cemetery in Indianapolis, Indiana. He was inducted into the International Motorsport Hall of Fame in 1991.

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum in Speedway, Indiana, features a memorial at the entrance to the building dedicated to the accomplishments of Louis Chevrolet. The memorial, designed by Fred Wellman and sculpted by Adolph Wolter, was created during 1968–1970 and installed in the spring of 1975. The centerpiece of the memorial is a bronze bust of Chevrolet wearing a racing cap and goggles; it rests on a marble and granite square base.

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