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Special, Limited Edition Anniversary Model
CALLAWAY COMPETITION CELEBRATES 25 YEARS OF RACING HISTORY
1995, a story characterized by passion and heartbeat begins. Giovanni Ciccone, Ernst Wöhr & Reeves Callaway are mutually founding the company „Callaway Competition“.
The 24-hour races of Le Mans, Daytona and Barcelona, the legendary Nordschleife of the Nürburgring, the FIA GT3 European Championship and the ADAC GT Masters: Just part of a long list of racing series in which Callaway Competition has been successful over the past 25 years.
The success story of the Leingarten race shop began as early as 1985 when master car builder Ernst Wöhr merged with body builder Giovanni Ciccone under the name „Wöhr & Ciccone“. Three years later, Ernst Wöhr met the US automaker Reeves Callaway at the Frankfurt Auto Show. Only a short time later, the two Swabians were authorized for official European representation of the US car manufacturer, recognized for their excellent work on Chevrolet Corvettes. Until then, it was a body shop, repairing and painting crashed vehicles.
In 1990, „Wöhr & Ciccone“ decided to enter professional racing through historic motorsport. Giovanni Ciccone‘s ‚65 Corvette, which had already been restored at the time, was turned into the company’s first race car with the help of experienced engineer and racer Herbert Schürg. “Herbert showed us how to correctly build a race car,” recalls Ernst Wöhr. With this car, the team won the FIA Historic GT Championship in 1991 and 1992.
In 1993 , a newly-built Corvette LT-1 took part in the recently announced GT Cup, resulting in several podium finishes.
In 1994, Reeves Callaway, who had a close relationship with his German partners, said on a phone call: „Let‘s build a car for Le Mans“. Said and done. A Corvette C4 with a 6.2-liter V8 was converted and used for the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1994. After capturing pole position and enduring nine hours at P1 in the GT classification, the race ended prematurely for the Corvette after the French driver ignored all pit signals and ran out of fuel. In the same year, the team took part in the long-distance races of the “BPR Global GT Series” and were able to rack up class victories in Vallelunga (Italy) and Spa (Belgium), as well as second place in the 1000 km race in Suzuka (Japan).
The Team of Callaway Cars Inc CT / USA under the leadership of Mike Zoner as well as John Kyles finacial support, were substancially part of development and built of the car. Paul Deutschman of Montreal was taking over design and lay-out of the body and aerodynamics and is resonsible for that task upto today.
The greatest successes of this period was Callaways 2nd place in GT2, 9th overall and 3rd place of customer Team Agusta in GT2, 11th overall finishes 1995 in Le Mans. After successfully completing Le Mans, in July 1995, Reeves Callaway, Giovanni Ciccone and Ernst Wöhr decided to found Callaway Competition. Founding members also included Karl-Heinz Knapp and Günther Schlag, all working to realize Reeves’ dream and build their own GT-1 car. After the GT-1 project failed because of the takeover of the BPR series by the FIA and changes in the regulations, Karl-Heinz Knapp and Günther Schlag left the company. Due to the new FIA regulations with the newly-built GT-1 car in 1997, there was only one participation in the 24-hour race in Daytona.
In the following years, a number of customer vehicles were built and supported by the Callaway team.
In 2005, the decision was made to develop and build vehicles together with Toine Hezemans and his engineer Mike Gramke based on the new C6 Z06 Corvette and the newly released FIA GT3 regulations. The plan was to start in the FIA GT3 European Championship series in 2006 and to participate in the ADAC GT Masters series in 2007.
In 2006, the team was running under the name „Carsport-Callaway“.
With the Dutch engine builder „APP Race Engines“, a partner was found at the time who still produces the powerful and reliable units for Callaway Competition.
from left: Reeves Callaway, Giovanni Ciccone and Ernst Wöhr
In 2007, the team name was changed to Martini-Callaway Racing and took part at the FIA GT3 European Championship and ADAC GT Masters. UBM was driving one car together with Klaus Ludwig, until he had to withdraw from racing for family reasons 2 years after.
Together with Jürgen von Gartzen and Luca Pirri for the first time the Teamchampionship in FIA GT3 was won by one point over Ferrari.
In 2008, the first Drivers Championship in FIA GT3 went to Leingarten with the French drivers pairing James Ruffier and Arnaud Peyrolles.
The Corvette Z06-R GT3, which was constantly further developed by Callaway Competition, was not only the longest-serving but also the most successful vehicle in the „Super Sports Car League“ in both racing series (FIA GT3 to 2012 and ADAC GT Masters to 2014) with numerous victories and other podium finishes. Customer teams such as “Toni Seiler Racing” and “RWT Racing” were also successful with the support of Callaway Competition.
In 2009, the team of Callaway Competition brought the team ranking into our “little country”, Baden-Wurttemburg, for the first time with 99 points.
To date, many well-known drivers have joined the team over the years, including Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Sven Hannawald, and Daniel Keilwitz, who secured the most victories for the team. With the new C7 GT3-R, the team could build on the 2015 successes of the Z06 R GT-3. Jules Gounon and Daniel Keilwitz thus confidently won all titles in the ADAC GT Masters series in 2017.
„When it came to doing business in automobile racing, we didn‘t want to concentrate on just one branch,“ explained Ernst Wöhr. Therefore, under the direction of Giovanni Ciccone, the Leingarten duo also deals with construction and development as well as prototype and modeling to support carbon fiber parts manufacturing for the automotive industry. In the future, the company would like to direct its focus on tuning and service for road vehicles.
With distribution in Japan, future business shall also be done across continents. With Shinji Takei, you have not only found a customer for a C7 GT3-R, who‘s actively supported in his races in Japan, but also a good friend who is very eager to represent the Callaway marque there with his company Bingo Sports.
25 years of racing are now immortalized in the Callaway Competition history books and many more are to follow. For this, the tasks have been redistributed internally in recent years. While Ernst Wöhr and Giovanni Ciccone have assumed representative and administrative roles in the background, the younger team at the racetrack supports team boss Mike Gramke who previously served as technical director, team manager André Zanke and race engineer Florian Möhring.
Thanks to the support of the Italian car lover and businessman Nicola Bulgari (grandson of the founder of the luxury brand Bulgari) and the Anglo-American Charles Burnett III, who broke a 103-year-old speed record with a steam-powered vehicle in 2009, the enormous development costs could be met. “Without the great support of Nicola and Charles, we would certainly not be where we are today. Unfortunately, Charles left us much too early, ” says Ernst Wöhr, and regrets the loss of Charles Burnett III, who died in a helicopter crash in 2018.
Callaway Competition in Daytona 1995
Callaway Competition GT1 1997 in Daytona
Special, Limited Edition Anniversary Model
On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Callaway Competition, a limited edition, special model of the Callaway Corvette SC757 road car will be released, in cooperation with Callaway Cars USA and development partner Tikt.
Distribution will be managed by Callaway, Autohaus Kramm in Berlin and BingoSports in Japan.