A Conversation With Reeves Callaway

The Legendary Tuner Talks Styling, Superchargers, And The Shape Of Things To Come

Walt Thurn Jan 24, 2007 0 Comment(s)
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Callaway Competition, in Leingarten, Germany, built four C4 Callaway LM coupes. This is the original Callaway LM racing at the 1995 24 Hours of Daytona. It won the 1994 Le Mans GT pole position and led its class for 13 hours before running out of fuel.

Vette: Will you be able to run the supercharged engine at Le Mans?

RC: No, the regulations will not allow us to use a forced-induction engine package.

Vette: Can you use the LS7?

RC: Yes, the seven-liter LS7 engine will be fine.

Vette: What kind of horsepower level is required to be competitive?

RC: Well, the rule of thumb in GT2 is about 500 hp. We actually need a little less horsepower in the race car than we need in the street car. Isn't that ironic?

Vette: Will these two cars be entered by Callaway Cars or by customers?

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This Callaway C7 was conceived as the ultimate Corvette-based GT car. Built entirely from carbon fiber, it was intended to compete at Le Mans. Only two were built, one of which now sits in Callaway's Old Lyme, Connecticut, showroom.

RC: Callaway will enter them, and we will run the operation out of Callaway Competition in Germany. Ernst Woehr will be the program manager. Now, I want to emphasize that there are a lot of "what if's" about this project. There are sponsorship, regulation, and development hurdles that all must be put to rest before we go to Le Mans.

Vette: Why race at Le Mans and not other venues?

RC: In the hierarchy of motorsports, the only race that means anything to a car manufacturer is Le Mans. Everything else is an also-ran. The thing you want to achieve by participating at Le Mans is you want to broadcast to others that you have the strength and reliability to go 24 hours. By the way, you are doing this nose-to-nose with anybody else who says they can do that.

Vette: How will the new C16 be offered to your customers?

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When the C5 was introduced, Callaway Cars temporarily left the mainstream Corvette hobby. Instead of tuning Vettes, the company completely remanufactured them, transforming them into C12 supercars. There were 27 C12s built, including two C12R race versions. This one competed at the 2001 24 Hours of Le Mans.

RC: It will be offered in two versions: as a body kit for the C6 or a complete C16 car. To create the C16, every body panel on the C6 is replaced. We tried to stay with add-on components, but to us, it looked pretty scary. Our designer, Paul Deutschman, did a wonderful job on this new design, and we are quite proud of the outcome. It is a gorgeous car. The new Z06 is flared and looks added-on to us. We wanted to capture this wider stance in a more integrated manner, and I think Paul met this objective. I think the new design reminds me of the Aston Martin DBR9-very aggressive but very refined.

Vette: What have you learned from the GT3 program in Europe?

RC: We learned that the GT3 lessons could be applied to a commercially available race version of the Corvette. It would be a big advantage for teams to apply the lessons we have learned about racing the Z06 in GT3 competition.

Vette: Reeves, thank you for spending time with us. The C16 is awesome, and we wish Callaway Cars much success with the program.

RC: Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share our company's present and future plans with your readers.

For the latest developments on the C16 and other Callaway Cars Corvette programs, stay tuned to Vette.




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