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Callaway Of the Month February '05

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Carlisle Callaway Corvette C6 – C36

For February’s Callaway of the Month, we are pleased to bring you the story about the recently introduced Carlisle Callaway Corvette C6 – or simply called, the C36. This car kicks off the development of the C6 product line by Callaway Cars, and is certain to be one heck of a car when completed!

            Opportunity knocks on many doors. However, when that opportunity knocks on two doors at once it becomes destiny…

            Last June, at the Bloomington Gold Corvette Show, the legendary Callaway Corvettes were featured as the “Special Collection XX”. Among the privately owned cars on display, Callaway Cars was invited to feature some of their creations. New Callaway products for C5 Corvettes were also on display and the engineers from Old Lyme were on hand to answer questions as well as to discuss C6 product development plans.

            During Bloomington Gold, a rather special Callaway owner approached Mike Zoner, Managing Director of Callaway Cars, and inquired about what was new with the company. That owner, Lance Miller, son of the late Corvettes at Carlisle co-founder Chip Miller, mentioned to Mike that he was planning on purchasing a new C6 in a few weeks for a Carlisle Events project car.

The Carlisle project was conceived and the C6 chosen as a tribute to Chip’s love for the Corvette and its styling and performance. Lance told me that, the project will add another dimension to the Carlisle Events shows as the car is constructed and the buildup displayed. The conversation at Bloomington set into motion much of the groundwork for what is sure to be one of the biggest and most exciting projects in either firm’s history.

            While more discussion took place during the weeks following Bloomington, the project changed direction entirely just prior to the car’s delivery at Carlisle. While Lance had originally envisioned the Carlisle Corvette as a “multi-tuner C6”, he quickly changed his mind, putting the project entirely in Callaway Cars hands and naming the project the “Carlisle Callaway Corvette C6” or simply C36 (C-cubed-6).

            Lance is no stranger to Callaway Corvettes. His father owned a few of them over the years including a 1991 Speedster and the only Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette (RPO B2K) race car, which still reside in the family collection today. I asked Lance, why the change in direction? He told me that his father always held a high regard for Reeves Callaway’s creations and for the engineering and craftsmanship that the Callaway team put into their vehicles. Rather than have a handful of different companies try to make all of their parts work together, Lance said he had a lot of faith in Callaway (Cars) and its staff, who shared many of the same ideas for the project.

            Ideas evolved into goals. Lance had a few stipulations for the project. The car must be capable of running a ten second quarter mile in street trim. Goals also include improved braking and handling.  In addition, interior and exterior styling is to be addressed by the team in Old Lyme, CT.

            Talking delivery of the Carlisle Callaway Corvette C6 on Thursday night before the Corvettes at Carlisle show kickoff, excitement was building. On display for the weekend at the Callaway Cars tent, the C6 was pulled from the display Friday afternoon for some dyno fun. Keep in mind, this is one of the first C6’s to be delivered to a customer and Lance was heading straight for the dyno! With only 16 miles on the digital odometer, the car was backed up onto the drum for its baseline. Quite possibly the first customer owned C6 to ever be put on a dyno, at the rear wheels the car laid down 347.9 horsepower @ 6,000 rpm and 348.7 lb•ft torque @ 4,400 rpm. Calculating driveline loss, Chevrolet has delivered all 400 ponies the LS2 promises! With the baseline data in hand, the time was nearing to begin the performance upgrades.

            With the engineers back in Old Lyme after the show working hard on their ideas, Lance decided to take the C36 on a quick weekend trip before dropping it off in Connecticut. Prior to departing Carlisle, PA, Lance called and asked if I wanted to go on a road trip. Leaving early on Thursday before Labor Day weekend, he picked me up en-route to the destination, the National Corvette Museum’s 10th Birthday Bash! Sharing the driving duties towards the NCM, this was my first chance to drive the new C6. Quickly I discovered many attributes of that car that earlier Vettes do not share. One of the neat features is the auto cancel turn signal that blinks three times, and cancels. Also, the XM radio was a different and interesting way to get your favorite music while driving. There was a G-Meter built into the heads-up display that was a lot of fun (and became a challenge to get the highest readings between the two of us) and the C6 was also equipped with the factory GPS navigation – which after an hour and a half of trying to enter a destination while traveling, realized one can only do that when stopped. With the destination entered, we continued on...  Arriving in Bowling Green later that night, Lance was to set up a display for the cars with Carlisle Events and Callaway Cars again showcasing their partnership for the project.

            The sleek C6 drew much attention again, even though it was still in stock form – just the mention of a new Callaway Corvette seemed to elevate heart rates a beat or two!    

            Friday brought the reality of a dirty car with bugs all over the front end; we needed a car wash badly! A small voice prompt button on the GPS allows commands for basic terms; “car wash” turned out the be one of them… The screen popped 5 different car washes in the area and with a selection made, we were on our way. The GPS gave audible, turn-by-turn directions right to the coin wash, amazing! Arriving again at the NCM, Friday’s highlights were the celebrity car show and all the displays with the following day adding a racing event to the schedule.

            Beech Bend Raceway is literally right down the road from the NCM and who could pass up that opportunity when it came knocking? With a chance of rain on the horizon, we decided to hurry to the track and go racing in the C6, which hadn’t even reached 1,000 miles yet!

            Lessons learned, and how…

The C6 is quite a bit different than earlier Vettes. Beyond the standard short throw shifter and built in G-Meter, the C6 has a much more involved traction control

 and active handling system. While Lance was able to feather the clutch and click off a 13.0 quarter mile time, we found out afterwards that to totally turn off the

 traction control and active handling, one must click and hold the traction button for five seconds. We had only tapped the button – leaving the system partially on.

 Live and Learn.

All in all, it was a great time at Beech Bend; not just for us, but everyone there seemed to enjoy watching the C6 make its passes down the track. Callaway has subsequently taken the unmodified car back to the track and armed with the lessons learned by us, they ran the quarter mile in 12.8 @ 110 mph seconds for a solid baseline to build upon.

Departing Bowling Green, we pointed the black C6 northward, towards Connecticut. Again, sharing the driving duties, the C6 is one of those cars you do not have to ask me twice if I would like to drive! Rowing the gears, Kentucky, Ohio, and most of Pennsylvania were behind us by nightfall. It was somewhere in PA that Lance decided to ask the GPS where to eat. “I am hungry”, he said and with that, about a dozen restaurant icons popped onto the screen pad. Lance narrowed the search further and within fifteen minutes, we were seated at an Italian restaurant – a welcome change from the ordinary type of places one normally encounters on a road trip. After dinner and a quick fill of the gas tank, we were back on the road.

 The next day, we pulled onto High Street in Old Lyme, and to the Callaway Cars shop. While dropping the C6 off, we toured the facility and looked over some of the cars under construction at the time. In addition to the task at hand, Callaway was wrapping up the validation of their “Power Groups Z06” and were busy upgrading the performance of an owner’s 1990 B2K Twin Turbo with some of their latest offerings.

The development work on the new Corvette began literally before the exhaust had even cooled! Parts were sized up for fitment and measurements taken. This car would be on its way to the Mid America Motorworks Funfest in less than two weeks after delivery, complete with its first round of Callaway upgrades engineered and installed.

            Stay tuned as we follow the progress of this exciting project and cover the details that will take the C36 from bone-stock to stormer.


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