The man who has made a career out of building fast cars has reached a shocking conclusion:
Top speed records don’t matter anymore.
“I don’t think it’s important to our owners,” says Reeves Callaway, whose Callaway Cars produced the world’s fastest car back in 1988. “I think it’s largely a waste of time.”
Some 33 years ago, Callaway built a tuned 898 horsepower C4 Corvette called the Sledgehammer to reach a record speed of 254.76 mph during a Car & Driver test.
But with speeds of more than 300 mph possible now, the problem becomes finding a place safe enough for a car to stretch its legs that much.
“The great problem of top speed demonstration is not building a car that will do it,” Callaway tells Muscle Cars & Trucks, “but finding a place where you can do it safely.”
His Sledgehammer, driven by John Lingenfelter, was able to establish a record that held for 25 years at the Transportation Research Center in Ohio, an enormous facility with a 7.5-mile oval track.
But Callaway says it’s not suitable for such top speed runs anymore. “At the end of the day,” he says, “there isn’t enough straightaway. I don’t know what the real value of top speed testing is other than bragging rights.”
Not all companies agree with his assessment, of course, as SSC continues to seek record speeds with its 1,750 horsepower Tuatara. SSC has faced controversy, however, over its purported 331.15 mph run on a seven-mile stretch of closed road outside of Las Vegas with challenges by some independent analysts. They reportedly will be trying another attempt this year on a 2.3-mile course in Florida.
Bugatti managed an average of 304.8 mph in its Chiron during two test runs on a German track but now acknowledges that the company is pulling out of the top speed competition, with CEO Stefan Winkelmann saying in 2019 that the company will focus on other areas instead. “This was the last time for us,” he said.
Enthusiasts will quickly point to the Bonneville salt flats in northwestern Utah as another possible site, but Callaway says that location loses its appeal because of its lack of asphalt.
So is the world really slowing down? Do you think top speed records are “a waste of time” and only matter to marketing campaigns, as Callaway believes? Or do you want to see carmakers shoot for even higher speeds in the future?
[VIDEO] Callaway Shows Off New Aluminum Alloy Wheels for the C8 Corvette
Callaway Offering New 25th Anniversary Callaway Corvette Special Edition for C7 Z06s
[POLL] Who is Your Favorite Corvette Tuner?