Nov 27 2009

Louis Chevrolet and the Vanderbilt Cup Races- Part II

After his tenth place finish in the 1905 Vanderbilt Cup Race, Chevrolet was mentored by two larger-than-life personalities: French champion Victor Hemery and front-wheel drive pioneer J. Walter Christie.


Although Chevrolet (right) was contracted to work for Christie at the Ormond-Daytona automobile tournament in January 1906, he replaced the 1905 Vanderbilt Cup Race winner Victor Hemery on the powerful 200-hp, 8-cylinder Darracq racer when the Frenchman angered officials with his belligerent behavior.


Christie permitted Chevrolet to take the opportunity and he made the most of it, setting fast time for gasoline powered cars at 30.6 seconds or 117.65 miles per hour. Only Frank Marriott in the Stanley Steamer race car was faster at 127.66 miles per hour. The automobile trade magazine The Motor Way reported:

"Next to Marriott's great performance was the mile in 30.6 seconds made by Louis Chevrolet, with the 200-horsepower Darracq that he has driven only once or twice. The French driver who scored so well at track racing last summer, drove the eight-cylinder machine to its limit, and the new mark is the world's record for gasoline machines, being a big cut in the form of figures of 34.4 seconds, credited to MacDonald. Chevrolet took the honors in the kilometer trials as well, scoring 19.4 seconds, a record for gasoline cars..."


While much of the next two years were spent as a mechanic and not a driver, Chevrolet (left) returned to Long Island as the driver of one of the two Mathesons entered for the 1908 Vanderbilt Cup Race.


In this photo, Louis Chevrolet (wearing overalls) can be seen in the middle of the Matheson Team prior to the race.


After the first lap of the race Chevrolet was holdng his own in fifth place. But, he soon cracked a cylinder in the hamlet of Jericho and was done for the day. He finished 16th of the 17 entries. Chevrolet's 1908 run was so short, this image of the #15 Matheson preparing at the starting line (far right) was the only documentation of his 1908 race.

Links to posts on Louis Chevrolet


Dec 08 2009 Stanford Smilow 10:43 PM

The most interesting pictures and copy of that exciting era of
Motor racing, delightful.

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