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Callaway Scales Back to One Car; Cooper Released from Contract

Michael Cooper released from contract at Callaway as team scales back to one car…

Photo: Richard Prince/Cadillac

Callaway Competition USA will field only a single Corvette C7 GT3-R in next weekend’s Pirelli World Challenge season-opener at St. Pete, with Michael Cooper having been released from his contract and on the hunt for a full-time drive.

The defending SprintX champion was announced alongside Daniel Keilwitz as full-season drivers for the new program last year, although a delay in the build of the team’s second Corvette has forced them to start the season with only one entry for the German driver.

An update on the status of the second car will be made in the coming weeks, according to a team statement.

It’s resulted in Cooper searching for a GT drive in the moments building up to the March 9-11 race.

“Because of the delay of the second car, Callaway didn’t have anywhere to fit me as they promised,” Cooper told Sportscar365.

“I’m free to drive anything in GT or any class outside of GTS because I still have that commitment to Blackdog [Speed Shop] for the SprintX races.

“My goal would be to land something for the full season but obviously being just over one week out from St. Pete, it’s going to be a pretty tall order.”

Cooper said he’s “not sure” what Callaway’s plans are for the SprintX rounds, which requires two-driver lineups.

It’s understood the team had not yet confirmed its SprintX drivers prior to the latest development of a scaled back entry, with the season starting in just three weeks’ time at Circuit of The Americas.

The former Cadillac factory driver has indicated that he has no contract limitations that would prevent him from driving any specific cars, other than his existing GTS SprintX commitment to Blackdog, alongside full-season driver Tony Gaples in a Camaro GT4.R.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John



  1. Nick1

    March 1, 2018 at 1:46 pm

    Wow that really sucks for Michael. Hope he lands somewhwre good.

  2. Matt

    March 1, 2018 at 2:05 pm

    You gotta be kidding.

  3. Kyle

    March 1, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    So what does that leave? A Hail Mary at CRP or AIM?

    That sucks.

    • Binky

      March 2, 2018 at 1:11 pm

      It might be too late for that, but it would have been great to see him at either of those teams.

  4. Cactus Tony

    March 1, 2018 at 2:11 pm

    Womp womp

  5. Jake

    March 1, 2018 at 2:27 pm

    What a shit show. Callaway aren’t giving off any positive vibes at this point. Really sucks for Cooper.

    • Alex

      March 1, 2018 at 2:42 pm

      While its not a positive reflection on the team, I think the season will be a great showcase for this car. You have to also remember its a privateer team from Europe building these cars. Not a Goliath company from Detroit with millions of dollars…..

      • Sol Shine

        March 1, 2018 at 3:15 pm

        Then it is likely going to be a shit show, as Jake said. Underfunded teams don’t do well and these guys seem disorganized to boot. Double whammy. Too bad for Cooper, he’s a good driver and deserves a decent ride somewhere.

        • Alex

          March 1, 2018 at 4:02 pm

          Well for your sake I hope you’re wrong. The car is brilliant and If it succeeds, we might see more in the future. Only racing in Germany isn’t enough for me as a Corvette fan.

        • Christian

          March 1, 2018 at 4:24 pm

          Shit show? They won the ADAC GT Masters championship last year and came in front of all the German manufactures lol

          • Dan

            March 1, 2018 at 5:24 pm

            Yeah none of that matters to the people who hate this program. It makes little difference that they are basically a tuner company with no support from GM competing against full works teams and winning is just a side note not worth mentioning. Nor is worth mentioning they build the cars themselves and support their customers cars in ADAC with a smaller crew than most people can ever imagine on the definition of a shoestring budget.

          • Brian

            March 1, 2018 at 6:00 pm

            Exactly. No convincing people who just want to hate on this program. People don’t realize that the initial plan was to sell to customers for 2018. But GM WAITED to tell Callaway until the very last minute (GM knew the year before). So instead of giving up for 2018 customers Callaway decided to make their own team from scratch in the US. People expect miracles or just don’t know all the facts and then judge. The only thing hindering this US team for 2018 are the resources. Which is Sad. Lets hope they can do it as its a BRILLIANT car.

        • el_gordo

          March 2, 2018 at 12:56 am

          lol won a championship with it in ADAC and would have won the championship the year before had a back marker not taken them out in the final race of the year when they had a huge lead

          • Helmut

            March 2, 2018 at 3:47 am

            Just to add to this German Gt3 properly the biggest and best GT3 championship in the world even better than Blancpain sprint.

    • Andy Flinn

      March 1, 2018 at 6:56 pm

      Jake, why are you hating so hard on this program before the season has even started?

      It’s another Corvette on the racetrack.

      I would think you’d be happy.

      I’m proud that Callaway is building and racing a Corvette, instead of just another German Porsche, Audi or Mercedes.

  6. Prototype 1

    March 1, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    Maybe the 2nd Callaway could go to IMSA Championship.

  7. cbbrit

    March 1, 2018 at 2:59 pm

    No news yet from CRP Racing, so perhaps Michael could drive their Mercedes AMG GT3!

  8. donna kunzig

    March 1, 2018 at 4:53 pm

    what a big a mistake to leave Cooper.

    • Jake

      March 1, 2018 at 5:23 pm

      Thats what really makes this decision so ignorant. The decision the forego the second car in PWC was made in favor of trying to defend the ADAC championship. Fair enough, but theres a simple solution that works out for all. Kielwitz stays in ADAC to defend his title, and the PWC effort is reduced to one car for Cooper, also a defending champion.

      The decision to stick Kielwitz, with ZERO experience on any US circuit, into a program that is only intended to befor one year as a factory run entry, is mind blowing. No offense to the guy, but he’s going to be completely lost in St Pete. And he’ll be starting out every round from square one with no clue about any of the circuits. Its not a recipe for success in what is intended to be a one time deal.

      • Brian

        March 1, 2018 at 6:03 pm

        Jake, imagine this scenario for a 2yr old GT3 car:

        -Hire a driver to drive with absolutely ZERO driving time in the car
        -Hire a 2X GT3 champion who has NINE years in Callaway built cars including 2yrs in this car (which includes test & development)


        If I were to choose between the two i’ll EASILY take Daniel. Go look up his highlights and tell me i’m wrong. Daniel also won the Blancpain title in a Ferrari last year…..please think first before giving an emotional reply….

        • Jake

          March 1, 2018 at 6:26 pm

          And Cooper has no experience in GT3 machinery? He’s the defending Sprint X champion…. he’s no rookie. Not to mention, whats more important, knowledge of the car or knowledge of the track? I’m going to go with the track knowledge. Keilwitz hasn’t even done any testing on any US tracks yet, and the season starts next weekend. How many street circuits does the ADAC championship run on? If it were my retirement fund on the line, Id put that money on Cooper every single time, how about you?

          • Issac

            March 1, 2018 at 6:57 pm

            So your saying you’d bet your retirement fund on a guy you don’t know who has never driven your car vs a guy you have known for the best part of decade whom you have personally seen win in your car and had a large hand in developmemt of your car from the start based purely off track knowledge?

            You do realize Daniel can learn from free practice and I’m sure Cooper along with other drivers can give him advice. It very much seems this is more about Cooper losing his ride with them than about anything else. If your the same Make that tried to attack Callway on Twitter you need to calm down.

          • Brian

            March 1, 2018 at 8:16 pm

            Isaac. He is. He clearly is either related to Cooper or simply looks for reasons to be negative. Jake do you hate Corvettes or something? Be HAPPY there is at least 1 car. Daniel will do fine. Yes it sucks Cooper isn’t there but give the team a chance first before hammering them in to the ground.

            YouTube “2013 ADAC GT Masters Slovakia ring lap 1” and come back to me. The dude (Daniel) went from TENTH to FIRST in to turn 1.

  9. Just a guy

    March 1, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    Just for arguments sake, when Alvaro Parente won the championship in 2016 it was his first time Racing in the states and first time at every circuit.

    Again, just putting that out there.

    Doesn’t look good for Callaway doing this just one week before the season opener!! For Cooper to be totally released with out him having another ride makes me think that second car may not be coming at all. If it was it would make sense to keep him under contract and allow him to run something else if the opportunity came up, until the second car was prepared. Not to mention driving sprint x with Callaway.

    LOL, wtf am I talking about. I work in this industry, I know 100% of press releases and info passed on to media is fluffed up BS and smoke and mirrors, who knows what the real truth is here!!!

  10. Russ Adams

    March 1, 2018 at 7:09 pm

    If there short on money now ….not the place to be place to be .take it back over seas . as far as the driver they learn the track in four to five laps so thats not it …..This is there driver so they know what the other is talking about set up wise .

    • Northstar

      March 1, 2018 at 10:42 pm

      Considering how much money the Callaway Family has, I doubt it’s a money issue.

      • Michael Brown

        March 2, 2018 at 9:30 am

        LOL, having money and spending money are two different things.

  11. Jake

    March 2, 2018 at 12:57 pm

    Brian, I was waiting for someone to blame GM for this, and you did it above. THAT is one of my biggest problems with the latest move. GM terminated the Cadillac program at the end of their season. And within days of the announcement, it was public knowledge that Callaway had the green light to sell or compete themselves in any North American GT3 championship. Reeves then makes a public comment that it was imperative that they do things right, and make a lasting impression on the US market, as they only get one chance. Within a month a two car PWC effort is announced. Now less than two weeks before the start of the season Callaway drops a car/driver and will now head into the most competitive US GT3 championship with a single entry. For the past two racing seasons, we’ve been hearing people bitch and moan about GM not letting them sell cars in the US. They now have that opportunity, and instead they have decided to focus on the German based championship again. Enjoy the one and only US appearance of the C7 GT3 this season. Its already been announced that Callaway won’t be back in 2019, and without making an honest effort at showcasing not only the cars capability, but your ability to be present and support the cars, why would anyone else ever buy one?

    • Andy Flinn

      March 4, 2018 at 12:48 pm

      Jake, so it’s Callaway’s fault that GM pulled out of PWC GT?

      Don’t forget that GM BANNED Callaway from racing the Corvette in PWC. How long has it been since GM dropped the ban?

      Jake, Callaway – a German outfit – is it for GMs in GT3. GM’s presence in IMSA GT3 (GTD) is even weaker (nonexistent).

      To attack Callaway before the PWC season has even begun is unfair.

      • Jake

        March 6, 2018 at 8:03 pm

        where did you see anything even remotely close to me blaming Callaway for Cadillac terminating the PWC program? Not the case.

        Like I said, people have been pissing all over GM for not allowing the Callaway to compete stateside, including yourself it seems. So my question is why was it such a big deal? If Callaway themselves obviously think the Euro market is more important to their business, than the US, how are you or anyone else able to be upset about it? In reality, GT3 in the US is quickly dying. Almost all the GT3 programs are almost entirely dependent on funding from manufacturers. If IMSA and PWC were to declare all factory involvement illegal (which is what GT3 should be) there wouldn’t be anyone left. THIS is in my opinion why Callaway have pulled back on the PWC effort.

    • Brian

      March 6, 2018 at 6:38 pm

      Lol. Ok, first off lets make something crystal clear: The PWC team is a separately operated arm for the C7 GT3.

      I personally don’t think this has been started in the best way possible. But they also were told last minute by GM about running (despite GM knowing over 12 months prior they were leaving). I get that Cooper has better marketing weight behind him over Daniel and I thought it was a great choice to have him at the team. Budget is the only reason I could think of them dropping him (or we can believe the car build reason they gave). With that said, you are either extremely jaded or feel personally scarred after Cooper has been dropped. I’ve seen your twitter back and forth with people as well as comments on here, which shows you must take this decision personally. Either that or you’re not used to seeing a non factory GM team enter North American competition.

      I PERSONALLY hope the ship gets corrected and they follow through with a good season. Either way they will be out next season and hopefully in the hands of more capable customer hands, so they better make it count. From what I heard, the car was turning very close to pole lap times at Sebring from last year’s times. Lets see what happens this weekend…..

  12. SteveW

    March 4, 2018 at 4:01 pm

    I read elsewhere that the 2nd car won’t be ready for some time, if at all. One would think Callaway would have realized that some time ago, and given Cooper fair notice. This would at least have given him a shot at finding employment somewhere else.
    Hope it works out for everyone involved.

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