29/2/1880 - 9/5/1967
Record updated 28-Feb-08
Schwitzer has a permanent place in history of Indyanapolis as the winner of the first auto race there in 1909, 21Â½ months before the inaugural Indy 500. He drove a Stoddard-Dayton at an average speed of 57.43 miles per hour over the still unpaved oval.
Louis Schwitzer, Sr. understood that a car is more than the sum of its parts. A graduate of mechanical and electrical engineering studies at German universities, Schwitzer developed an understanding of automobiles and their engines from the inside out.
He brought this knowledge to America where he won the first auto race at Indianapolis in 1909. He won a 10-karat gold medal after he won the two-lap, 5-mile race over the still unpaved oval. It was the first automobile race at the Speedway, pre-dating the inaugural Indianapolis 500 in May 1911 by 21½ months. It ensured Schwitzer a place in history for himself and his Stoddard-Dayton car, in which he achieved an average speed of 57.43 miles per hour.
He returned in 1911 to win again and remained active in the racing community as chairman of the technical committee for the Indianapolis 500.
Applying his racer's edge to the auto industry, Schwitzer formed his own company in 1918. Beginning with cooling systems and pumps, his company expanded its product line as Schwitzer created major innovations that improved engine performance. He developed many useful auto-related components including the first steering-wheel gear shift, the supercharger and turbocharger, thermostatic controls and pressure oil pumps and he was responsible for the first 6-cylinder automobile engine.
In the company's literature, Schwitzer proudly told his customers, "We feel that the intangible part of a product -- the character, reputation and experience of the producer -- is fully as important as any other part."