Chevrolet, Louis

Chevrolet, Louis

(1878–1941) race car driver, automobile designer; born in La Chaux de Fonds, Switzerland. He emigrated to the U.S.A. in 1900 to race cars, and in his first race defeated Barney Oldfield. In 1905 he drove a record mile in 52.8 seconds. In 1911, with the backing of William Crapo Durant, he founded the Chevrolet Motor Company and designed its first car. He sold out his interest in 1915 and concentrated on making racing cars; his cars won the Indianapolis 500 in 1920 (with brother Gaston Chevrolet driving) and 1921. In 1929 he formed (with another brother, Arthur Chevrolet), the Chevrolet Brothers Aircraft Company, but this venture failed and he went back to building racing cars.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.