Midwest Express

Callaway Cars may be headquartered in Old Lyme, Connecticut, but we travelled to Hastings, Nebraska to sample one of its latest offerings—a 606-horsepower Grand Sport coupe.

July 28, 2011

Also from Issue 68

  • 1980 coupe
  • 1965 Fuelie
  • 1996 Convertible
  • Buyer's Guide: C5
  • How-To: C5 Water Pump
  • Tech: Frame Restoration
  • 1967 Small Block
  • Racing: Le Mans
  • 1960 Convertible
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I gave Sid Harchelroad a call, wanting to see if I could arrange a test drive of one of the 2011 Callaway Grand Sport SC606s on the lot of his Imperial, Nebraska Chevrolet dealership. I’d soon be passing through the area visiting family, and proposed meeting at Motorsports Park Hastings (MPH), a relatively new road course in western Nebraska. Little did I know that Harchelroad would roll out the red carpet for me, arranging for over a dozen Callaway Corvette owners to meet us at the track and trailering in a pair of Grand Sports for my lapping pleasure. Turns out, Harchelroad is not only one of the biggest Callaway dealers in the country, but he is also a partner at MPH. I’d made the right call.

When I arrived at the circuit in the morning, the parking lot was already full of Corvettes—Callaway and otherwise—including two ZR1s. I’d never seen so many supercharged C6s gathered together in one spot; the amount of horsepower corralled in the paddock was truly staggering, with one of the Callaway Z06s packing over 700 horsepower under its heavily vented carbon-fiber hood.

Little time was wasted in unleashing all those ponies. After a few words from Harchelroad and MPH’s amiable head honcho, George Anderson, we were let loose on the track. Officially, we were to maintain a “parade-lap pace,” but the grin with which that phrase was uttered seemed to suggest more speed would be allowed. Before I could climb into the driver’s seat of the red 2011 Grand Sport coupe I had chosen to test drive, I was informed that a local hot-shoe driver was on hand to provide me with some orientation laps. Red carpet, indeed.

Ted Hughes owns a lot of fast cars. In addition to a C6 ZR1 and a supercharged Callaway Camaro, he has a track-prepped Dodge Viper in his stable. Though not a professional driver, Hughes’ speed around the MPH track has earned him the respect of seasoned racers. The tall, lanky Seward, Nebraska resident escorted me to a silver Callaway Grand Sport SC606. In addition to its 606-horsepower supercharged LS3 engine, this Corvette was loaded with optional Callaway equipment, including Eibach suspension, Michelin Pilot Sport-shod O.Z. wheels, huge cast-iron brakes, heavily bolstered fixed-back bucket seats and a thicker steering wheel. It was clearly the right machine for the job.

Hughes got right to work. The Corvette felt absolutely planted through the 2.2-mile track’s 14 corners, exhibiting hardly any body roll. Though the car wasn’t being pushed to the absolute limit, I was still glad for the sports seats, as I was being held in place with a sense of security that the standard Corvette seats simply cannot afford. Interestingly, Hughes much prefers this car’s handling to that of his ZR1; he finds the latter simply too soft for serious track work, even with the shocks set in their sport setting.

With the number of cars on track and the varying skill levels of their drivers, Hughes was only able to really uncork the engine a few times, but when he did, the Grand Sport accelerated with near-ZR1 intensity. My, what a difference an extra 176 horsepower makes. Though audible, the whine from the Eaton TVS2300 supercharger is fairly muted; the glorious roar from Callaway’s low-restriction exhaust system leaves a more lasting impression. If the supercharger specification sounds familiar, that’s because it’s the same one found on the ZR1’s 638-horsepower LS9 engine. Considering the fact that Callaway’s $21,395 SC606 package is a fully warranteed (three-year/36,000-mile), bolt-on affair—it includes a liquid-to-air intercooler, high-flow fuel injectors, a high-volume fuel pump and a cold-air intake—its 32-bhp deficit is entirely understandable.

With Hughes’ hot laps completed, it was my turn to take the wheel. I had chosen to review the red coupe because I felt it was more representative of what the average Callaway Corvette customer orders. Not many folks request the coil-over suspension and monster brakes, and this car’s suspension and brakes were stock. And instead of a manual transmission, it was equipped with an automatic—a popular option. Though its wheels were standard Grand Sport issue (with the optional polished finish), this car was thankfully fitted with the ultra-supportive Callaway seats. Costing a cool $8,970, they don’t come cheap.