Callaway Cars founder and CEO Ely Reeves Callaway III died Tuesday, July 11, at his home in Newport Beach, California. He was 75 years old. A Facebook post on the company's page said he passed from injuries sustained in a fall.

Reeves founded the company in 1977 in his garage in Old Lyme, Connecticut. He began working with Chevrolet a decade later, which led to a decades-long relationship between Callaway Cars and the automaker. The specialty vehicle manufacturer was able to sell its Corvette – the Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette – under the B2K designation through Chevy's dealer network.

Gallery: Ely Reeves Callaway III

Callaway would make a bigger splash shortly after that with The Sledgehammer, a Callaway Twin Turbo Corvette that would become Earth's fastest car in the late 1980s. The modified Corvette had a hand-built 5.7-liter V8 engine with two turbochargers that made 880 horsepower and 772 pound-feet of torque and paired with a ZF six-speed manual transmission.

The Sledgehammer would reach a record-setting 254.76 miles per hour, setting a new record for a production car. Callaway completed the run at a 7.5-mile oval track in Ohio before driving the Corvette back to the company's headquarters in Connecticut. According to Callaway Cars, the record stood until 2010, when the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport dethroned it, hitting 267.85 mph more than 20 years after the Corvette.

Callaway's relationship with General Motors grew beyond Chevrolet, with the company offering upgraded Chevy Camaro, GMC Sierra, and Cadillac Escalade models today. However, it hasn't forgotten its origins, continuing to offer upgrades for the mid-engine Corvette C8, which will get a supercharger from the company this year.

Callaway has worked with numerous automakers since its inception, finding its first product success with a BMW turbo kit. Alfa Romeo, Land Rover, Fiat, and Mazda have also utilized the company's tuning expertise. In 1994, Callaway Competition was founded as a Germany-based racing outfit that succeeded at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Its racing efforts would land Callaway the opportunity to construct and homologate the C6 and C7 Corvette GT3 race cars.

Reeves was a race car driver before shifting to tuning in the 1970s, racing go-karts. He also raced in SCCA Formula Vee, winning the championship in 1973.

Peter Reeves Callaway, the company's president and Reeves' son, said that his father's "passion for making beautifully designed and crafted machines can be seen in each and every project," adding that he felt "fortunate to have grown up working with him and the company."

 
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