2020 Indianapolis 500 Poster
At the beginning of 2020, I was thrilled to receive a commission from BorgWarner, the official sponsors of the Indianapolis 500, to produce a poster celebrating the centenary of the Frontenac car’s success in the 1920 event.
The brief involved creating a large, one-off poster, eight feet by four feet, that would hang in BorgWarner’s private viewing suite overlooking the famous raceway, with a limited edition of one hundred prints for selected clients. Being the biggest race in world motorsport, you will appreciate that this was an exciting project. The BorgWarner trophy has been awarded every year since 1936, and each winner has their likeness posted on the trophy.
The short-lived Frontenac marque was founded in 1914 as a joint venture by the Chevrolet brothers, Louis, Gaston and Arthur. The brothers set up their workshop in Indianapolis with the express intention of creating high performance automobiles that they themselves would race to glory in the recently established Indianapolis 500 race. Louis Chevrolet went on to become a co-founder of the Chevrolet Motor Car Company, later incorporated into General Motors.
Arthur Chevrolet drove in the inaugural Indy 500 race in 1911 and again in 1916, although he failed to finish on either occasion.
Gaston was chosen to take the wheel in 1920. Ralph De Palma driving a Ballot from pole position led the race until stalling on lap 187, but managed to rejoin the race, but in the delay the lead went to Gaston Chevrolet. The Frontenac ran out of fuel on lap 197, but Chevrolet managed to coast to the pits and refuel, holding onto the lead through to the finishing line.
Chevrolet won at an average speed of 88.6 mph, with another Ballot, driven by Rene Thomas, coming in a close second. Sadly, Gaston died in an end-of-season race in Los Angeles in November 1920.
Frontenac won the race for a second time the following year with Tommy Milton driving, and the brothers entered into negotiations with Stutz Motor Company. But the deal quickly fell through, and Frontenac closed later that year.
My triumph in gaining this prestigious contract was also short-lived, as the 2020 Indianapolis 500 race was postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and despite being rescheduled for August of this year, BorgWarner pulled out of sponsoring this event.