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Chevrolet, Louis (25 December 1878–06 June 1941), mechanic, race car driver, and engine designer, was born in La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland, the son of Joseph Felicien Chevrolet, a clockmaker, and Angelina Marie (maiden name unknown). Louis Chevrolet’s family moved to Beaune, France, when he was six years old. From his father Louis acquired basic mechanical skills and an appreciation for the importance of precision in machine parts manufacture. While still teenagers, Louis and his two brothers, Arthur and Gaston, established a bicycle making shop. They used the brand name “Frontenac” for their bicycles, a name Louis later applied to automobiles he manufactured....

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Gehringer, Charlie (11 May 1903–21 January 1993), baseball player and executive, was born Charles Leonard Gehringer in Fowlerville, Michigan, the son of farmers. Preferring that young Charlie would follow the same occupation, his parents discouraged him from playing baseball; however, they did permit Charlie and his brother to construct a rough diamond on the farm. Charlie learned the game well enough to pitch for the Fowlerville High School team, losing only one game at that level. He also played third base for both school and town teams, then enrolled at the University of Michigan. He attended only one year, playing baseball, football, and basketball, but lettering only in the last of these. His batting skill attracted the attention of the Detroit Tigers management, however, and in 1924 he was given a tryout in Detroit supervised by Manager ...

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Milton, Tommy (1893–10 July 1962), race car driver and engineer, was born Thomas W. Milton in St. Paul, Minnesota, the son of a prosperous dairy farmer. At six feet tall and 175 pounds, Milton was a talented athlete, focusing on hockey, but an indifferent student. After only three semesters in high school in St. Paul, Milton left to pursue a newly found fascination with racing. Despite having full sight in only one eye, he soon became a champion motorcycle racer and helped to design the steel-soled boot that created the modern style of cycle racing. Increasingly intrigued by auto racing, Milton ran in his first sanctioned contest at the Minnesota Fairgrounds in 1914. He mixed his early racing career with appearances in auto daredevil shows until the famed driver ...

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Vanderbilt, William Kissam (12 December 1849–22 July 1920), railroad capitalist and sportsman, was born on a farm near New Dorp, Staten Island, New York, the son of William Henry Vanderbilt and Maria Louisa Kissam. He was the grandson of “Commodore” Cornelius Vanderbilt. William studied with private tutors and later attended a school in Geneva, Switzerland. At nineteen he was sent to work in New York City as a clerk and bookkeeper under Charles C. Clarke, the treasurer of the Hudson River Railroad, a line his grandfather had controlled since 1865. The Commodore believed that only hard work would keep his grandsons from becoming spoiled. William worked his way up various clerical grades in Clarke’s office....