Dallara Magazine - page 4

Louis Schwitzer Award
Mister Toso, let's start from the man
whose the award is named after: who
was Louis Schwitzer?
«In the first years of the 900's,
Indianapolis was the heart of the
automotive industry in America, and
Detroit was only a place of commercial
exchange on the Canadian border. Between
1905 and 1910, there were more than 250
different "brands" producing cars and
industrial vehicles. And the suppliers of
mechanic components, electric, diesel and
petrol engines, transmissions and bodies
proliferate. The Indianapolis track was
opened in these years to provide these
companies with a proving ground to test
the reliability of the components. And the
competitions at Indy were a showcase to
put new ideas to test. In many cases, the
engineers developed new ideas and then
were goring on-track themselves. Many of
the technicians didn't have a formal
education but learned out on the road.
Some of them knew the fundamentals of
the tools used in farming and managing
livestock, plus the steam engine. They
mainly used racing to to adapt their
experience on the internal combustion
engines. Louis Schwitzer was born in
Austria but moved to the USA at the
beginning of the 20th century. As he could
count on a deep European culture an an
engineering formation specialized in
mechanical design, he started to work in
Boston in the military naval industry
business to design the first submarine
cables. Then he moved to Indianapolis as
he had a passion for cars and met with
Howard Marmon, a local entrepreneur who
appointed Louis Schwitzer to design (all by
himself... ) the "Marmon Wasp" and the
"Yellow Jacket" engine that won the first
Indy 500 in 1911, with Jack Harroun
behind the wheel. But Louis Schwitzer had
started winning even before than that,
when he drove the car to victory in the
first race held at the Indianapolis Motor
Speedway. Other three drivers-engineers
lost their life in that race. Among the
survivors were Louis Chevrolet, driving a
Buick, and Lee Chadwick, an engineer at
the local Purdue University, driving the
first car with a supercharged engine. Louis
Schwitzer became THE pioneer in auto
racing, expert in pumps and turbochargers,
gifted designer of venting systems for coal
mines, hospitals and industrial
installations, a superb military vehicle and
equipment engineer during the war,
pioneer in aviation and, last but not least,
a civic minded person for the whole
Indianapolis community».
Who established this award and how
relevant it is?
«The 1967 statute and the assignment
rules are clear and have not changed
throughout the years: "To the Engineers of
Engineers" for excellence in the design,
development and implementation of new,
innovative motorsports technology concepts
for use in the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race.
The commission features some influential
members of the Indiana Society of
Automotive Engineering including top
executives of Cummins, Allison, Purdue
University e Borg Warner. During the
practice session that lead up to the Indy
500, the commission interviews three or
four candidates in a discreet fashion and
then after some accurate considerations,
reunites to elect the winner. Borg Warner
is a multinational corporation present in
19 countries and specialized in designing
high-end engineering components and
system, focusing on transmissions,
turbines, fuel and cooling systems. After
acquiring Schwitzer Corporation in 1999,
Borg Warner provides turbochargers for all
the IndyCar racecars and contributes with
a 10.000-dollar check for the winner of the
“Louis Schwitzer Award”».
Colin Champan, Bruce McLaren, Mario
Illien, Dan Gurney, Andy Granatelli,
Gianpaolo Dallara. And now Andrea
Toso: can you tell us what winning the
Louis Schwitzer Award means to you,
especially considering such an
impressive roll of honour?
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