The youngest of these famous brothers – Gaston Chevrolet may not have been as influential as his siblings but he proved more successful behind the wheel. However, just as he basked in Indianapolis 500 and National Championship glory, so he paid the ultimate price.
Upbringing and early career
Originally from Switzerland, his parents had settled in the Burgundy region of France by the time Gaston was born in 1892. Older brother Louis was the first to move to the United States and both Arthur and Gaston followed him in 1902. Gaston worked as a mechanic while his brothers were among their adopted country’s early racing drivers.
Having already formed and then stormed out of the Chevrolet Motor Company four years later, they formed Frontenac in 1916. That pioneering concern used aluminium and monocoque chassis construction half a century before Colin Chapman introduced the latter to Grand Prix racing.
Indycars and suspension
Gaston Chevrolet followed his brothers and started racing that year but failed to make his debut at Indianapolis when his Frontenac was plagued by mechanical problems during qualifying. Results improved in 1917 and Chevrolet scored top-three finishes at Cincinnati (behind a victorious Louis) and twice at Chicago. However, he missed the 1918 Indycar season when suspended by the AAA for running in rival unsanctioned events.
Successful racing return and tragic demise
Chevrolet regained his AAA licence in 1919 and was a disappointed 10th at Indy. But he won three board track races to finish sixth in that year's championship. Frontenacs were out in force in the 1920 Indy 500. Louis Chevrolet qualified second but it was younger brother Gaston who drove the canny race by setting a conservative pace. He did not change a tyre all day and benefited as others faltered to win the Indianapolis 500.
That was also enough to clinch the 1920 Indycar title although tragedy followed in November. The new champion was leading at Beverly Hills when he crashed with Eddie O’Donnell as they lapped a backmarker. Chevrolet was killed instantly and O’Donnell succumbed to his injuries later in the day.