Tag Archives: Louis Chevrolet

Celebrating Louis Chevrolet

If you are in Indianapolis for an auto event like the Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational, Bloomington Gold Corvettes USA Show, Performance Racing Industry Trade Show, or another automotive enthusiast event, I would like to share two must see sights celebrating Louis Chevrolet.

Louis Chevrolet Memorial
Louis Chevrolet Memorial

Your first stop should be the Louis Chevrolet Memorial just west of the main entrance to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame Museum. This memorial, erected in spring 1975, celebrates Chevrolet’s exploits as an early racer, the designer of the first of the more than 125 million cars that bear his name built in 1911, and the first car builder to win two Indianapolis 500 mile races.

The four bronze panels depict Chevrolet and W. C. Durant, founder of General Motors, with the first Chevrolet passenger car in 1911; Chevrolet’s first winning car at Indianapolis, driven to victory in 1920 by brother Gaston; Chevrolet’s second Indianapolis winner, driven by Tommy Milton in 1921; and Chevrolet’s 1923 Barber-Warnock Fronty Ford at the Speedway with Henry Ford at the wheel. Most any time I visit the Hall of Fame Museum I stop by the memorial to think about these early days at the Speedway.

Chevrolet brothers memorial
Chevrolet brothers memorial

Next, head south to the Chevrolet brothers’ memorial at Holy Cross & St. Joseph Cemeteries at 2446 S. Meridian St. At the intersection with Pleasant Run Parkway N. Dr., turn west and go about two blocks. Then turn north at the cemetery entrance and proceed to the flag pole to find their gravesites at the fork in the road. Gaston was buried here in November 25, 1920, six months after winning the Indianapolis 500. Louis was buried here June 6, 1941, after complications from a leg amputation. Louis’ sons Charlot and Charles L. are buried just north of the bench. Arthur’s son also named Arthur, was also buried here in 1931 in the grave miss-marked as Arthur 1884-1946 (senior). Arthur senior is buried in Slidell, Louisiana. Sometimes when you visit the gravesites, they may be marked with a checkered flag or toy Chevrolet Camaro.

Close associates and fellow workers described Louis Chevrolet as fearless and daring, but never reckless; persevering, but quick-tempered and impetuous at times; a perfectionist who took pride in his work, with very little patience for the mistakes of others; and a dedicated innovator who deplored any and all social amenities which interfered with his customary 16-hour work day.

The next time you are visiting Indianapolis on an auto-enthusiast adventure I encourage you to visit the Louis Chevrolet Memorial and the Chevrolet brothers’ memorial to celebrate our car culture.

For more information about Louis Chevrolet, follow this link.
emorial

Schedule an Indianapolis Auto Tour

If you are an auto enthusiast looking to do something that is truly unique in Indianapolis, then scheduling an Indianapolis Auto Tour fits the bill.

Stutz Motor Car Company
The Stutz Motor Car Company

Did you know that at one time Indianapolis had more automobile manufacturers than Detroit?

Fortunately, Indianapolis still has over 30 manufacturing buildings and homes from this era to document this heritage. Did you know Indianapolis’ auto heritage is much more than auto racing.

Dennis E. Horvath is a “genuine car nut,” who enthusiastically shares his obsession for autos and touring. With a 20-year background sharing auto history, many have said that “Dennis brings the story of Indianapolis’ automotive heritage to life.”

Have Dennis travel along with you and learn about the Indianapolis auto leaders who had a significant impact on the American transportation experience. For example, find out about how Louis Chevrolet became the first builder to win two Indianapolis 500’s with cars built in Indianapolis. Hear about the Duesenberg brothers building their prestigious luxury cars and race cars on Washington Street. Learn about Carl G. Fisher, one of America’s forgotten promoters, starting as a bicyclist in the 1890’s and going on to promote auto racing and develop transcontinental highways and leisure destinations. Discover tidbits about Harry C. Stutz who accomplished an amazing feat with his first Stutz automobile that finished 11th in the 1911 Indianapolis 500-mile race.

These and many more unique stories allow you connect to our transportation heritage. It extends from our everyday car, to luxury cars, and modern highway systems. Indianapolis Auto Tours transport you back to the era when autos were more about the journey than the destination.

Testimonial
For anyone with even a passing interest in the auto industry, Indianapolis Auto Tours, conducted by Dennis Horvath, provides a fascinating look at how pervasive the industry once was in the city of Indianapolis. There are a surprising number of buildings still standing that help tell the story of the auto industry’s early days in Indy. Buildings that once housed legendary marques, such as Marmon, Stutz, Duesenberg, and numerous others still have a physical presence in the city, but many people unknowingly drive right past them every day. Dennis relates fascinating stories about not only the companies, but also the leading industry personalities who once occupied those buildings whose success in the formative years of the auto industry ensured their rightful place in history.
Ted Woerner,
Co-Owner, Miles Ahead

Click here to Plan Your Visit.

Monroe Motor Company

One of the lessor-known autos in the Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit is a 1920 Monroe Model S built by the William Small Company. This is the first Indianapolis-built Monroe I’ve ever seen.

1920 Monroe Model S
1920 Monroe Model S

In 1918, the Monroe Motor Company assets were purchased by the William Small Company, the former distributer of Monroe autos in Indianapolis.

Small then recruited Louis Chevrolet as a consulting engineer to work out design problems for the new Monroe at the Indianapolis Small facilities. This new Monroe sported a 35 horsepower, 4 cylinder Monroe engine. The 1920 Monroe Model S was available in either a five-passenger touring car or a two-passenger roadster.

In preparation of the Small entries for the 1920 Indianapolis 500-mile race, Chevrolet recruited Cornelius Van Ranst to help build seven race cars, four of them to campaigned under the Monroe name, and three as Frontenacs. Louis’ brother, Gaston Chevrolet, drove a Monroe to victory in the 500, which was the first win by an American car at the Brickyard since 1912.

Gaston Chevrolet in 1920 Monroe
Gaston Chevrolet in 1920 Monroe

Unfortunately, three months later, the William Small Company went into receivership. In January 1922, the Monroe assets were acquired by American Fletcher National Bank in Indianapolis. By June 1923, Premier Motor Corporation of Indianapolis obtained control of the Monroe Motor Company and produced cars for a short time.
I believe the brief story of the William Small Company adds rich details to Indiana automotive history and thank the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum for sharing this car.

Be sure to visit the Indiana Automobiles: Precision over Production exhibit ending March 26, 2017, to see the gems of Indiana automotive production.

Congratulations to Indiana Racing Memorial Association for recognizing the Chevrolet brothers

I must say congratulations to the Indiana Racing Memorial Association for renovating the Chevrolet brothers grave site in Indianapolis.

Chevrolet brothers memorial

I have known about the Chevrolet grave sites in southern Indianapolis for many years, but was concerned about the poor up-keep and failure to recognized their accomplishments in our automotive industry.

The Indiana Racing Memorial Association, with sponsorship from Chevrolet Motorsports, and the Central Indiana Chevrolet Dealers Association have corrected this oversight. They have created a renovated grave site in the Holy Cross and St. Joseph Cemetery at 2446 S. Meridian Street. They have constructed an exquisite granite monument for
the Chevrolet brothers: Louis, Arthur, and Gaston.

chevrolet-brothers-marker

In addition to the monument, they dedicated a historical marker celebrating their automotive accomplishments. All three raced multiple times in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with Louis winning the first 10-mile race at the Speedway in August 1909 and Gaston taking the 1920 Indianapolis 500.

In 1911, Louis was named president of the Chevrolet Division of General Motors and developed the Chevrolet Classic Six five-passenger touring car. Upon leaving General Motors in 1915, he began developing race cars that competed at the Speedway and across the country. In 1922, Louis and Arthur created the Chevrolet Brothers Company, in Indianapolis, to develop Frontenac cylinder heads to extract greater horsepower from the Ford Model T engine. They produced over 10,000 units that dominated dirt track racing across America.

The easiest way to get to the site is to turn west on Pleasant Run Parkway off South Meridian Street and go about a quarter-mile. Then turn north into the cemetery and proceed to the flagpole. The monument and marker are right there north of the flagpole.

I believe IRMA’s efforts with the monument and historical marker beautifully recognizes the Chevrolet brothers automotive accomplishments. Thanks to IRMA for commemorating our automotive heritage.

For other Louis Chevrolet articles click here. For more information on Indiana auto pioneers follow this link.

From my bookshelf Holidays 2016 Edition

If you’re like me, you’re cogitating on unique auto related books for gifts. Here are some picks from my bookshelf for the 2016 Holidays.

hoosier

How about a book written in August 1916 about a road trip from New York City to Indiana? In A Hoosier Holiday Theodore Dreiser colorfully documents his journey in a new Indianapolis-built sixty-horsepower Pathfinder to his old Indiana haunts in Warsaw, Terre Haute, Sullivan, Evansville, and Bloomington.

One of the stories is of meeting Indiana auto pioneer Elwood Haynes at the Haynes Automobile Company plant in Kokomo. He begins by describing the workers and sights during his plant tour. “After inspecting the factory we came into presence of the man who built up all this enterprise. He was relatively undersized, quite stocky, with a round, dumpling-like body, and a big, round head which looked as though it might contain a very solid mass of useful brains. He had the air of one who has met thousands, a diplomatic, cordial, experienced man of wealth. I sensed his body and his mind to be in no very healthy condition, however, and he looked quite sickly and preoccupied. He had a habit, I observed, contracted no doubt through years of meditation and introspection, of folding both arms over his stout chest, and then lifting one or the other forearm and supporting his head with it, as though it might fall over too far if he did not. He had grey-blue eyes, the eyes of a thinker and organizer, and like all strong men, a certain poise and ease very reassuring, I should think, to anyone compelled or desiring to converse with him.” Haynes told Dreiser of building his first automobile in 1894 and his recent development of Stellite, a new metallurgical alloy patented in 1912 and still in use today.

Dreiser’s travelogue describes their 2,000 mile, two-week pilgrimage to his boyhood home. He paints you into the story of the people, the journey, and the destinations.

Peruse A Hoosier Holiday at Amazon.com.

cobra

I am interested in stories about hunting for automobiles. The next two selections fit that genre. The Cobra in the Barn: Great Stories of Automotive Archaeology is the first book in the series of tales of the elusive search for the ultimate “barn find” automobile that started in 2005.

This book in the series explores a gathering of over 50 cars, including seven different Cobras. Passionate sleuth Lynn Park of Pasadena, CA, has owned nine Cobras, and he’s still on the lookout for more. Park’s obsession started one day when an acquaintance showed him a copy of Road & Track magazine with a Cobra on the cover. The next day he visited Carroll Shelby’s shops in Venice, CA, to see one for himself. He was immediately hooked. Being just out of high school, the $5,000 price tag was beyond his budget. So, he purchased an A.C. Aceca coupe and converted it to 289 Cobra specifications himself. His main emphasis is non-restored original automobiles. One of these is the 289 Cobra found under a canvas cover in Temple City, CA, with 33,000 miles on the odometer. Park has respectfully conserved the car, which he drives more than any of his other Cobras.

Author Tom Cotter shares how some of these dream searches might start out as part of an urban legend, but through what he calls automotive archaeology, the details of the actual “barn find” come to reality.

Peruse The Cobra in the Barn at Amazon.com.

my-first-car

It has been said “You never forget your first car.” I know that the saying is true for me. I still remember my Canyon Coral with India Ivory top 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air hardtop. That’s why I wanted to read My First Car: Recollections of First Cars from Jay Leno, Tony Stewart, Carroll Shelby, Dan Ackroyd, Tom Wolfe and Many More.
Motor Trend executive editor and motoring author Matt Stone compiled 60 stories of these “firsts” from titans of the auto industry and other celebrities. The interviewees share what drew them to, how they enjoyed, and other remembrances of their first car.

The first thing I wanted to checkout was how many claimed 1957 Chevrolets Bel Air “firsts” like me. I’m in good company with motorsports legend Mario Andretti and well-known auto care product manufacturer Barry Meguiar.
I enjoyed how Stone presents each of these stories. First he offers a short background on the individual. Then he weaves the tale of acquisition, use, misuse, and separation from the revered vehicle. There are many stories of how these vehicles helped to build a life-time bond with someone close.

Stone’s motor journalist experience yields a thorough look at the topic. His love of automobiles adds interest and draws you into the story.

Peruse My First Car at Amazon.com.

So, if you’re looking for some different books this holiday season, I invite you peruse these. See you the next time over by my bookshelf.

For more information on our bookstore follow this link.