National Corvette Museum Introduces Us to Callaway Le Mans “Frieda”
Frieda was the first Corvette to race Le Mans in 18 years.
As you’re surely aware by now, the National Corvette Museum is running an exhibit in conjunction with Callaway Cars. It celebrates the famed tuning brand’s 30-year dedication to making Corvettes go faster. The special exhibit includes 15 of Callaway’s most famous Corvettes. To help celebrate, NCM has created video features about each car. And this time we’re getting to know Frieda.
Frieda’s the 1994 and 1995 Le Mans entry from Callaway Competition, and the company’s first race car. This car marked a wild change for Callaway. They previously had never entered a racing car in any event. But they decided to jump straight to the top with a run at the famed 24 Hours.
As you’d imagine, the Callaway Competition version of the C4 Corvette is wildly different from anything previously released to street-driving customers. Simply looking at the long, smooth, sloping single-piece nose cone, you can see this was a car built for action. Underneath, the aerodynamic study extends to a completely flat carbon fiber floor, with a large carbon diffuser out back. Everything is traditional racecar fare, from the Lexan windows, to the large wheels with giant brake rotors, to the huge adjustable wing on the rear deck.
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Callaway did such a great job building this race car, they actually won pole position in their class on their first outing at La Sarthe. In 1994 this car (confusingly called the C6R in-period) was driven by Boris Said, Michel Maisonneuve, and Frank Jelinski. Sadly, they finished dead last after having been disqualified for “receiving improper assistance on course.” The team returned to the GT2 category in 1995 with much better results, taking Enrico Bertaggia, Johnny Unser, and Frank Jelinski to second in class and 9th overall. The small American team was classified just two laps behind their class victor, Honda factory-supported Team Kunimitsu’s mid-engine NSX.
It is entirely possible that this is the car responsible for the highly successful launch of Corvette Racing and their return to Le Mans, two decades later. Without this C4 Corvette-based Callaway C6R, we might not have seen the Corvette C6.R.