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Some Interesting Facts about Louis Chevrolet

Most people know the name Chevrolet, but few people know much about the man behind the Chevrolet brand. The Chevrolet car company is actually named for one man — Louis Chevrolet — a dare devil who came from France to America and became famous as a racing driver. At Bob Bell Collision Center, we love cars and their illustrious history-and of course, we also love those Chevys!

Here are some notable things about the man and his legacy:

-Like many famous people, Chevrolet was born on Christmas Day, 1878

-Chevrolet immigrated to the United States from France in 1900. Five years later, in his first automobile race, he defeated the great American driver Barney Oldfield, and thereafter he set records on every important track in the United States.

-In May 1905, Chevrolet’s name first appeared in press reports in connection with motorized races. Driving a massive Fiat racer at Morris Park, N.Y., Chevrolet broke the track’s flying-mile record with a 68-mph run. He then went on to win a three-mile flying-start race at the same event.

-He raced in the Indianapolis 500 four times. His best finish was in 1919 when he came in seventh.

-Chevrolet learned basic automotive mechanics from his father, who worked as a watchmaker. He married his wife Suzanne and had two children, raising them in Indiana.

-During the 1906 speed trials at Ormond Beach, Fla., Chevrolet drove a French-built Darracq race car, powered by what was at the time a spectacularly powerful 200-hp V8, to a then world-record speed of 118.7 mph.

-On November 3, 1911, Swiss race car driver and automotive engineer Louis Chevrolet co-founded the Chevrolet Motor Company in Detroit with William C. Durant and investment partners William Little (maker of the Little automobile) and Dr. Edwin R. Campbell (son-in-law of Durant). 

- Despite all of the spectacular successes, Chevrolet paid a price for his racing career. Celebrated in the American press as “the dare-devil Frenchman,” he is said to have spent nearly three years in hospital beds as the result of various accidents. When the youngest Chevrolet brother, Gaston, died as the result of a racing accident in 1920, Louis vowed to never race again.


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