Thirst in class

Browse pages
Current page

1

Current page

2

Current page

3

Current page

4

Current page

5

Current page

6

Current page

7

Current page

8

Current page

9

Current page

10

Current page

11

Current page

12

Current page

13

Current page

14

Current page

15

Current page

16

Current page

17

Current page

18

Current page

19

Current page

20

Current page

21

Current page

22

Current page

23

Current page

24

Current page

25

Current page

26

Current page

27

Current page

28

Current page

29

Current page

30

Current page

31

Current page

32

Current page

33

Current page

34

Current page

35

Current page

36

Current page

37

Current page

38

Current page

39

Current page

40

Current page

41

Current page

42

Current page

43

Current page

44

Current page

45

Current page

46

Current page

47

Current page

48

Current page

49

Current page

50

Current page

51

Current page

52

Current page

53

Current page

54

Current page

55

Current page

56

Current page

57

Current page

58

Current page

59

Current page

60

Current page

61

Current page

62

Current page

63

Current page

64

Current page

65

Current page

66

Current page

67

Current page

68

Current page

69

Current page

70

Current page

71

Current page

72

Current page

73

Current page

74

Current page

75

Current page

76

Current page

77

Current page

78

Current page

79

Current page

80

Current page

81

Current page

82

Current page

83

Current page

84

Current page

85

Current page

86

Current page

87

Current page

88

Current page

89

Current page

90

Current page

91

Current page

92

Current page

93

Current page

94

Current page

95

Current page

96

Current page

97

Current page

98

Current page

99

Current page

100

Current page

101

Current page

102

Current page

103

Current page

104

Current page

105

Current page

106

Current page

107

Current page

108

Current page

109

Current page

110

Current page

111

Current page

112

Current page

113

Current page

114

Current page

115

Current page

116

Current page

117

Current page

118

Current page

119

Current page

120

Current page

121

Current page

122

Current page

123

Current page

124

Current page

125

Current page

126

Current page

127

Current page

128

Current page

129

Current page

130

Current page

131

Current page

132

Current page

133

Current page

134

Current page

135

Current page

136

Current page

137

Current page

138

Current page

139

Current page

140

Current page

141

Current page

142

Current page

143

Current page

144

Current page

145

Current page

146

Current page

147

Current page

148

Current page

149

Current page

150

Current page

151

Current page

152

Current page

153

Current page

154

Current page

155

Current page

156

Current page

157

Current page

158

Current page

159

Current page

160

Current page

161

Current page

162

15 minutes of fame. Callaway Corvette: 1994 LeMans

Running out of fuel is a painful way to lose at Le Mans, especially when a debut win looks on. Reeves Callaway tells Gary Watkins about a muscle car heartache

No one knew quite what to make of the strange silver projectile that turned up at the Le Mans test day in May 1994. The name Callaway conjured images of golf clubs rather than GT racers and little was known of the US muscle car builder in Europe except that it did weird and wonderful things with Chevrolet Corvettes.

The Callaway Corvette C6-R barely set the world on fire that day: anything that could go wrong did go wrong and the car never set a representative time. Six weeks later, though, everyone was talking about Reeves Callaway’s latest creation.

The C6-R not only claimed pole position for the GT2 class against Honda’s megabuck factory operation, but Boris Said and co-drivers Frank Jelinski and Michel Maisonneuve battled for the lead for more than half the race. It was nip and tuck with the best of a flotilla of Porsche 911 RSRs, only for an elementary driver error to leave the trio wondering what might have been.

Reeves Callaway had started his tuning empire after winning the National Formula Vee title in 1973. “I was convinced Roger Penske was going to call me,” he explains. “When that didn’t happen, I needed to start earning money.”

Twenty years of building what the company motto describes as ‘Powerfully Engineered Automobiles’ had finally put Callaway in a position to go motor racing. The company’s European base was in Germany and it was from there that it launched an attack on the new German GT Cup.

“As we became more of a distinct brand, it was natural to want to go to Le Mans to compete with the world’s best,” explains Callaway. “The GT Cup was merely practice for that.”

The result of that dry run was the C6-R, a car built with the ultra-fast Circuit de la Sarthe in mind “We styled the body on what we thought the requirements of Le Mans would be,” he says. “We needed low drag for the Mulsanne Straight, good cooling and good serviceability. Hence that big one-piece hood.”

The car had run only on an airfield prior to the test day, “to make sure it stopped, started, steered and cooled,” but with more testing under its belt the C6-R quickly emerged as one of the class pacesetters. “Honda really wanted the pole because I’m sure they were convinced their NSXs weren’t going to last,” recalls Callaway. “I told Boris to go out there and find a second. And that’s just what he did.”

The race quickly developed into a battle between the American car and the best of the Porsches, the French-entered Larbre example with a driver line-up including Jesus Pareja. The Callaway had the edge on speed, but the 911 was spending less time in the pits. Not only was the Porsche more fuel efficient, but the Callaway was losing time at lyre changes courtesy of the five-stud fixings on its standard Corvette hubs.

The lead swung back and forth between these two very different racing cars until local driver Maisonneuve missed his pit signal, not once but twice, and ran out of fuel on the circuit. He did eventually reappear in the pits, only for the car to be disqualified for receiving outside assistance, otherwise known as a jerry can of fuel from a spectator.

“The car was running pitch-perfect,” remembers Said. “I’m sure we would have won.” Proof of that was provided three weeks later at Vallelunga in Italy. Callaway entered the car as it had ended its Le Mans campaign: it won its class and took second overall in a four-hour International Endurance GT Series race.

There was another podium that year, at SpaFrancorchamps, and further poles at Le Mans. A customer-entered C6-R ended up fastest in 1995 and, six years later, the next-generation Cl 2-R did the same. But Le Mans ’94, according to the company founder, remains the “highwater mark” for Callaway in motorsport. “It was,” he says, “very nearly a dream debut.”

You may also like

Related products