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Callaway Of the Month September '05

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Lance Miller's

C36 Part V – Pushing the Envelope, Callaway Corvette C36


Continuing our coverage of the Carlisle Callaway Corvette, or simply the C36 as it nears completion has been an enthusiasts dream come true for us! Right from the beginning, Corvette Enthusiast has brought you all the details, of the development process for the various component designs as they were fitted and tested, ultimately leading to the production Callaway performance parts for other C6 Corvettes. The past year has truly been exciting for us, and looking back at all of the amazing things we have seen about not only the Callaway components, but also the great introduction we got to the newest generation of Corvette by being a part of all this!

Recapping the buildup of the C36, the project was conceived by Lance Miller, Event Manager of Carlisle Events, to add another dimension to the extremely popular Carlisle shows. Lance initially saw the project and a conglomeration of tuners and suppliers, however, after thinking the idea through, he selected just one company for the task at hand – Callaway Cars. He chose Callaway, as Lance’s father Chip, held Reeves Callaways creations in such a high regard, with the Miller family owning some other special Callaways in their collection.

With his new C6 delivered at the 2004 Corvettes @ Carlisle show, Lance promptly took it straight to the chassis dyno where the car put down 347.9 horsepower and 348.7 lb-ft of torque – a very respectable place to begin this project! Before handing the keys over to the team at Callaway Cars, Lance and I took the car on a quick road trip to Bowling Green, KY and at the end of the first week of Lance owning the car; we had already amassed two thousand miles!

The introduction that this early C6 gave us to the newest Corvette, and all of its new features was great in itself; however, what we saw upon dropping the car off in Old Lyme, CT at the Callaway facility, was nothing short of amazing! While we were in Bowling Green, the Callaway team was busy designing the prototype pieces for the C36 and literally, as soon as we arrived the car went up on a lift in preparation for its modifications. In between the measuring for the new components, Callaway Cars ran another series of baseline testing before the modifications began. Consisting of additional chassis dyno testing and multiple rounds of ¼ mile timed runs, Callaway considers a true baseline a critical prerequisite to all projects of this magnitude.

Time flies, and so does this car!

Two weeks later, we caught up with the Callaway team in Effingham, IL at the Mid America Motorworks Funfest where we discovered a dozen new components fitted to the C36 for its first modified appearance (C.E. June 2005). The car generated much excitement as one would expect with such a car modified to this level so early on in the new C6 model’s production run – the Callaway team literally burned the midnight oil for this one getting it ready in such a short time.

After its initial debut, the validation testing began on the prototype parts showing solid gains across the board for each component, and 51 horsepower and 25 lb-ft of torque for all that had been done to this point. Callaway Cars installed a Motec Advanced Dash Logger (ADL) to monitor the cars vital signals (C.E. June 2005) and helped to scientifically level the testing field between comparisons they made in different environments. By collecting data with this tool, Callaway Cars compared different runs on different days and eliminated factors due to different track conditions or weather conditions. At this point, the car was wearing the components of Callaway’s PowerGroups 1, 2, and 3 and was running 7 tenths of a second faster in the quarter mile with an elapsed time of 11.9 @ 118 mph and zero to sixty mph in 3.7 seconds.

Late in 2004, the car was again sent to Illinois – this time, Chicago for the Chevy Vettefest. It was at that show, where we caught up with the Callaway team and saw the refinements as they neared production on their products. The car had many finished parts, including a sharp new cat-back exhaust with a unique “V” pattern for its twin muffler canisters. It was also at this show, where we caught up with car owner, Lance Miller and caught his reaction, as he was able to see the cars evolution and hear the roar of the powerful new PowerGroups!

Remembering that in addition to the high level of power that Lance had specified for the C36, improvements in handling were also to be addressed. Beginning as a Z51 Corvette, the car exhibited excellent performance when delivered; however, the Callaway crew worked hard over the winter months, refining the handling much further. The C36 was rewarded with a much faster time through the slalom during testing, as a result of the Callaway coilover suspension and larger anti-roll bars. Combined with those components and a set of lightweight Callaway wheels and Pirelli tires, the car was able to run the course 3.8 mph faster than before when stock (C.E. August 2005).

We were again fortunate to be able to drive the car extensively during our visit to the shop and while there, we also got to see the final touches put on the production parts and some of the other rare cars that have rolled out the doors over the years. It was at that time, where we were able to see for ourselves the longstanding history that Callaway Cars has had with Corvettes and we certainly understood the level of craftsmanship that goes into each vehicle. From the factory RPO B2K Corvette through the C12, to the components for the Power Groups such as the Honker™ air box, the degree of detail is evident in each product!

On with the show…

With a new year, came a new show season and we found ourselves back at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green. Callaway Cars and Carlisle Events have been across the country and back again, promoting the C36 and the Carlisle shows together while bringing further awareness to the Charitable Foundation in remembrance of Lance’s father, Co-founder of Carlisle Events, who passed away last year.

While in Bowling Green, Lance got a chance to drive his C36 project car and sample the new degree of power. Flashing his big smile after he completed a quick drive in the car, Lance was very impressed with everything the car has demonstrated so far. The following morning brought a bit of rain, washing out any hopes of additional full throttle fun; however, Lance still offered rides to anyone that asked!

Later on during the Bowling Green event, we decided to ride over to Beech Bend Raceway Park with the C36 and check out some of the racing events. Upon our arrival, we learned the local Corvette club was hosting an autocross event on the paved oval. As we watched the Corvettes round the course, it was suggested that we take the Carlisle Callaway Corvette out on the track for a few exhibition runs, an idea that excited both the Callaway Cars staff and spectators alike!

Remembering that the C36 benefits from Callaway’s chassis enhancements, we too thought it would be interesting to see how the car stacked up against the myriad of other Corvettes that had run that day. When all of the registered participants completed their runs, it was time to put on a helmet and go racing! Mike Zoner, Managing Director of Callaway Cars has quite a bit of seat time in the C36, so it was decided that he would be the one to drive. Having never been on the track at Beech Bend, Zoner used the first of his three laps to familiarize himself with the course and then once back at the starting line, it was time to fly! Corvettes that had run earlier, ranged from C3 “Sharks”, through C4’s both stock appearing and modified, a whole host of C5’s in all styles, and even a few C6’s – including a black Z51 car, very similar to what the C36 used as a foundation. When the dust settled, we waited for the numbers. After we were handed our time on a piece of paper, we compared the runs to the other Corvettes that day. As the numbers were tallied, it was announced that the Carlisle Callaway ran the predetermined autocross course 2.66 seconds quicker than the next fastest car that day - a 2004 Z06 Corvette! Afterwards, the C36 was driven into the pit lanes where many Corvette enthusiasts came to the car, seemingly impressed with the cars performance and had many questions for the Callaway engineers. As the specifics of the car were shared, many asked what was next for the car, eager to see more of the car in action.
Rounding out the spring show season, Callaway wrapped it up with a quick trip to Atlantic City, and the Corvette show held by Kerbeck Chevrolet. Displayed beside a classic AeroBody™ Callaway SuperNatural™ 425, the C36 also wore the SuperNatural™ name affixed to its tail. Paying tribute to their past, this Callaway continues the heritage of the Powerfully Engineered Automobiles™ they have constructed over the years by wearing that moniker. A final scripted emblem will be molded and affixed for the C36 for production. Mike Zoner was on hand at the show, and mentioned that the first SuperNatural™ production car had been delivered earlier in the weekend to a dealer in Connecticut, bringing much of what you find on the C36 to its new owner.

While the C36 is still evolving, we will be continuing our updates as they occur until it reaches its final goal and delivery. In the meantime, we learned that the car has received some additional tuning and new rear-end gearing to match the power plant, keeping the rev’s right in place as one shifts though the gears. Eagerly looking forward to August, and the Corvettes @ Carlisle show at the end of the month, Lance told us he is really looking forward to getting the car back for keeps and plans to drive it every day if possible – a true Corvette enthusiast!


© 2005 Christopher Chessnoe

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