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Reeves Callaway Cars Corvette Sledgehammer Death

The following is a statement from Callaway Cars, surrounding the sudden and tragic loss of its founder, Reeves Callaway.

Callaway Cars announces, with deepest sadness, the passing of our Founder and CEO, Ely Reeves Callaway III, on Tuesday, July 11, at his home in Newport Beach, California, from injuries sustained after a fall.

Reeves was a legendary figure in the world of high-performance automobiles. Entirely self-taught, Reeves founded the company in 1977 from his garage in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

His first product success was an aftermarket turbo kit for BMW, which renowned automotive journalist Don Sherman reviewed favorably that year in Car and Driver. The rest was history as Reeves, a Formula Vee champion driver prior to becoming a constructor, moved with his customary speed to open Callaway Cars’ first headquarters in Old Lyme, Connecticut.

Over the four decades since, Reeves and Callaway Cars have continued to earn top accolades from media, the automotive industry, and the global motorsports world as a pioneer of “Powerfully Engineered Automobiles”. His unique performance and design innovations have delivered track and road-going successes for global marques, including BMW, Alfa Romeo, Aston Martin, Land Rover, Mazda and General Motors, who looked to Callaway’s innovation, creativity, agility, and performance to help accomplish their goals.

Callaway C8 Corvette Stingray Thompson Motorsports Park Delivery Camaro Chevrolet Hero Shot

Reeves is perhaps best known for his work with Corvette, a deep and high-level relationship with the American sports car manufacturer that began in 1987 and culminated with two industry firsts:

• The Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette “B2K” designation, a factory code to signify the GM stamp of approval to permit sale and distribution of the Callaway Corvette via the Chevrolet Dealer network which, in turn, earned Callaway Cars the rare honor of becoming designated a Specialty Vehicle Manufacturer.

• The second was a world-first record: in 1989, Callaway Cars built a Twin Turbo Corvette, dubbed “The Sledgehammer” that blew away all the competition by setting a production-car top speed record of 254.76 mph. Not until 2010, 21 years later, did Bugatti break Callaway’s record by achieving a 267.85 mph in a Veyron Super Sport.

In 1994, Reeves launched a Germany-based racing unit, Callaway Competition, with partners Ernst Wöhr and Giovanni Ciccone. International recognition was achieved by their successes at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and later a European GT racing team which ultimately led to authorization by GM to construct and homologate C6- and C7-generation GT3 race cars for international competition.

Reeves was one of the last and most successful one-man, single-vision practitioners of hyper-performing internal combustion automobiles. It’s a rare-air field that includes the likes of Ettore Bugatti, Ferry Porsche, and Enzo Ferrari, to name a few.

Callaway C8 Corvette

Reeves’ vision, creativity, and innovation encompassed not only automotive engineering, but aviation and aerospace as well with Callaway Carbon, Inc.

A longtime helicopter pilot and Board Director for Kaman Corporation, Reeves was in recent years a founding adviser to a hydrogen-powered and composite-intensive, blended-wing aircraft start-up with funding from NASA and the Air Force.

“Thanks to Reeves’ visionary entrepreneurial spirit, Callaway Cars will continue to innovate and grow in the 21st century, inspired by his unique, extraordinary vision, and by his personal example of integrity, resourcefulness, and leadership as our founder,” says his son Peter Reeves Callaway, the company’s President. “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. 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.”

Mike Zoner, the Chief Operating Officer of Callaway Cars, remembers him:

“I have had the privilege of working with Reeves and helping him innovate for over 35 years. Reeves always strived to make the finest vehicles and products, and then improve them. His support of our customers, partners, and team members was unwavering. We shall carry his vision and mission forward and continue to grow the company he founded and built into innovative future products that he would applaud as we honor his legacy.”

Callaway Competition Corvette C7 GT3 Corvette
Image via Callaway Competition.

The first son of Ely Reeves Callaway, Jr., the founder of Callaway Golf, and brother of publisher Nicholas Callaway, Reeves proudly epitomized the entrepreneurial Callaway family tradition of making the finest goods that enhance an individual’s enjoyment, performance and lifestyle.

A true gentleman, he was the devoted father of four and grandfather of two.

His large circle of friends, colleagues and admirers around the world will mourn his passing and miss him deeply.

Further communiqués from Callaway Cars will be forthcoming.

For inquiries, please e-mail: [email protected].

On behalf of the entire MC&T staff, it was an absolute honor to have met and interviewed Reeves Callaway. His charm, wit, and unmatched knowledge is unparalleled in the automotive community. We want to thank Callaway and his family for all they have done over the years, and we will support their operations however we can going forward.

– Manoli Katakis

Founder, Editorial Director, Muscle Cars & Trucks.

Reeves Callaway Death

Written by Manoli Katakis

Muscle Cars & Trucks was founded by Manoli Katakis - an automotive media veteran that has been covering the latest car news since 2009. His journalism has uncovered dozens of major product changes, updates, plans, and cancellations long before automakers were ready to make things official.

Some highlights over the years of his reporting include the uncovering of the Zora trademark before anybody else reported on the coming of a mid-engine Corvette, as well as the dead-accurate reporting of the coming of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2, two years before it hit the market, and even before the debut of the concept vehicle. This type of reporting has immediately continued here, with reports of the original seventh-generation Camaro plans being shelved, as well as what's in store for the Chevrolet Silverado.

Some of his work can be found on massive automotive media outlets, such as Motor1. He also has been a guest on the 910AM Radio Station with Detroit News auto critic Henry Payne, as well as the enthusiast-oriented Camaro Show podcast.

Over the years, Manoli has interviewed various automotive industry titans, leaders, and people that make things happen otherwise. These include figureheads such as GM CEO Mary Barra, GM President Mark Reuss, automotive aftermarket icon Ken Lingenfelter, Dodge firebrand Tim Kuniskis, along with various chief engineers of vehicles such as the Ford F-150 & Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro & Corvette, and many more.

At MC&T, Manoli is taking his journalism expertise, deeply planted sources, driving abilities, and automotive industry knowledge to new levels, covering more vehicles and brands than ever before. This is the place where you will continue to read groundbreaking stories about American performance vehicles, pickup trucks, and sport utility vehicles. Here is where you’ll also read insights and quotes from various automotive subject matter experts on the latest relevant products, as well as some of the latest official news from their manufacturers.

Fun facts: he also once beat Corvette Racing driver Tommy Milner in an autocross with a Chevrolet Bolt EV. The biggest vehicle he’s ever driven is a John Deere mining truck. Besides a go-kart, the smallest vehicle he’s driven has been a Hyundai i10. He’s also spent time in the cockpit of various American performance vehicle icons, including the fifth-generation Chevrolet Camaro Z/28, Dodge Challenger Demon, and Ford Mustang GT350R. He has reviewed dozens of trucks, SUVs, and performance vehicles over the years.

One of his favorite new vehicles on the market today happens to be the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 Bison. He is also a card carrying member of the Sports Car Club of America, and regularly participates in Detroit Region autocross events.

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