Chevrolet is a division of the U.S. automobile manufacturer, General Motors (GM) that was founded in 1911 by racing enthusiast Louis Chevrolet and his partner, William C. Durant (who was also a co-founder of General Motors). It is often said that were it not for Louis’s enthusiasm for motor racing, Durant would not have picked him to assist him create the company that came to bear his name! Ever since, Chevrolet has been racing through the years, quite literally.
Starting from the days when Louis and his younger brother Arthur raced on just about any machine on wheels to the mid ‘50s, Chevrolet had a rather small-time racing history. Then in 1955, Chevy introduced the best racing machine of the time, the 265 CID V8 small block. It was quite an inexpensive and easy to work with kind of a racer compared to others at the time. It instantly became very popular with both tuners and racing enthusiasts alike. And soon, its modified and high performance versions started hitting the tracks and winning.
The first major setback came in 1957 when the Automobile Manufacturers Association (AMA) banned automobile makers from directly participating in racing. This was a time when Chevy’s small block had just began achieving impressive milestones and setting the pace in the racing industry. However, this did not deter the company from providing support for racers, especially through dealerships. In fact, many rumors abound then that automakers were offering full covert support for racers despite the ban. This backdoor support was often said to range from providing off the shelf motorparts to special top secret R&D components that were offered to a few select racers so as to enhance their cars' capabilities on the track.
Between the 1960s and early ‘70s, Chevrolet unveiled and regularly improved on a new racing car series, Corvette, which included the famous Corvette Sting Ray. It was also in the early ‘70s that the NASCAR "Modern Era" began, with March 1972 marking the Chevrolet’s maiden "Modern Era" win when Bobby Allison triumphed at the Atlanta International Raceway.
The 1980s started with Dale Earnhardt leading two others in a clean sweep of the top three positions for Chevrolet cars in the 1980 Winston Cup championship. Bobby Allison won the Winston Western 500 in 1981 while Sterling Marlin also won the Winston Cup “Rookie of the Year” honor in 1983.
The ‘90s saw Jeff Gordon win up to eight poles and seven races from 1991 on his way to the 1995 Winston Cup series triumph that made him motorsport history’s second youngest champion. In addition, Chevrolet finished NASCAR SuperTruck inaugural season in 1995 in the victory circle, claiming the Manufacturer's Championship in the process.
The 2000s and beyond have seen Chevy continue to dominate in NASCAR, with the most recent being in 2014 when Chevrolet Racing won eleven Championships, including its 38th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Manufacturers Championship.
For Chevy, even the sky cannot be the limit - the company promises to continue winning!
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