Reeves Callaway, Corvette Maestro, Has Passed

Ely Reeves Callaway III, who made his mark as a self-taught purveyor of specialty vehicles, passed away July 11th at his Newport Beach home, following injuries sustained after a fall. Callaway, 76, was best known for his work with Chevrolet Corvette sports cars, which he amended in such a manner that their performance, both with engine adjustments and suspension mods, was higher than what was available from the manufacturer.

Callaway started his Callaway Cars business in 1977 in his Old Lyme, Connecticut garage, with his first successful product an aftermarket turbo kit for BMW cars. It was the first of many such achievements for the former Formula Vee champion driver, whose work as a constructor was met favorably by General Motors, whose platforms were among his favorites.

A young Reeves Callaway turns the dyno knobs – photo courtesy Callaway Cars

Callaway Cars’ “Powerfully Engineered Automobiles” delivered unique performance and complementary design to customers around the world, from headquarters in Old Lyme, a motorsports division in Germany and in California, where he made his home. In addition to GM products, he worked with Alfa Romeo, BMW, Aston Martin, Land Rover and Mazda.

The company’s deep relationship with Corvette began in 1987 and included two industry firsts: the Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette “B2K” designation allowed the sale and distribution of the Callaway Corvette via the Chevrolet dealer network as a specialty vehicle manufacturer blessed by General Motors. In 1989 the company built a twin turbo Corvette dubbed “The Sledgehammer” that set a production-car top speed record of 254.76 mph that stood until 2010, 21 years later!

Callaway with The Sledgehammer – photo courtesy Callaway Cars

In 1994 Reeves Callaway launched the Germany-based racing unit, Callaway Competition, with partners Ernst Rohr and Giovanni Ciccone. They met success at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and later with a European GT racing team, which ultimately led to GM’s authorization to construct and homologate C6- and C7-generation GT3 race cars in international competition.

Callaway was the eldest son of Ely Reeves Callaway Jr., the founder of Callaway Golf. and brother of publisher Nicholas Callaway. He was the devoted father of four and grandfather of two. Son Peter Reeves Callaway, the company’s president said of his father: “Dad’s passion for making beautifully designed and crafted machines can be seen in each and every project, and we remain devoted to executing – to the highest standards – in true Callaway fashion.

“He was rarely found doing anything other than working towards the next milestone for the company,” Pete Callaway continued. “He was a charismatic leader with a sense of humor that we will all remember through various ‘Reeves-isms’. I feel fortunate to have grown up working with him and the company.”

Further information will be forthcoming from Callaway Cars.

About Anne Proffit 1264 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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