Louis Chevrolet is best known as the Swiss-born American race car driver and co-founder of the Chevrolet Motor Car Company in 1911 and who later moved on to other ventures. That is only part of the story.
Are you aware that there is a Louis Chevrolet memorial at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway? I believe that this memorial at the Speedway is a great honor to an icon who is overlooked in our automotive legacy.
Fred Wellman conceived his idea for a Louis Chevrolet memorial in 1964 after visiting Chevrolet’s grave in the Holy Cross and St. Joseph Cemetery in Indianapolis. He recognized that Chevrolet deserved a more impressive memorial and set out to create it. In spring 1975, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway completed the construction of the Louis Chevrolet Memorial just west of the entrance to the Speedway Museum.
Adolph Wolter, an acclaimed artist throughout the United States, created the magnificent bust of Louis Chevrolet and the four bronze panels depicting Louis Chevrolet’s major accomplishments.
The panels show Louis and William C. Durant, founder of General Motors, with the first Chevrolet Classic Six touring car in 1911.
Chevrolet’s first winning car at Indianapolis 500 in 1920, driven by his brother Gaston, with four Speedway pioneers in the background, Carl G. Fisher, James A. Allison, Lem H. Trotter and T. E. (Pop) Meyers.
Chevrolet’s second Indianapolis winner in 1921, driven by Tommy Milton, with Capt. Edward V. Rickenbacker, Col. Arthur W. Herrington, Louis Schwitzer, and Cornelius W. Van Ranst.
Chevrolet’s 1923 Barber-Warnock Fronty-Ford, which placed fifth driven by L. L. Corum, with Henry Ford at the wheel, flanked by Barney Oldfield, Louis, and Harvey Firestone.
Around the back of the monument are four panels bearing the names of the Automotive Pioneers of Progress.
During the late 1910s and the early 1920s, Louis and his racers had numerous wins across the country. He was second in AAA national point standings for the years 1909 and 1915. With the Chevrolet Brothers Manufacturing Company, he and his brother Arthur produced over 10,000 Frontenac high compression cylinder heads for Ford Model T engines for competition across America. The success of this business was largely due to the fame that he and his brothers had earned racing-especially in the Indianapolis 500.
In all of his years racing and developing race cars he put his best effort forward and enjoyed much success.
His legacy is nearly forgotten, but perhaps we should all live by his motto “Never Give Up,” which is highlighted on the pedestal that holds bust of Louis Chevrolet.
I invite you to visit the Louis Chevrolet Memorial at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on your next visit to Indianapolis.
For more information on Indiana auto pioneers follow this link.