The motor racing community will miss a man known for his business and developmental ability in the motor racing industry.
Don Panoz, the man responsible for installing the American Le Mans Series and the visionary behind numerous road and race cars, passed away Tuesday.
Media reports that Panoz fell ill in recent weeks before passing away Tuesday morning at the age of 83.
The Ohio native wasn’t always in the business of motorsport. His first claim to fame and fortune was the invention of the transdermal patch, which provides a dose of medicine through the skin and into the bloodstream. Shortly after, due to his son Donny’s interests, Panoz formed the Panoz Automobile Company in the late 1980s.
It wasn’t long before Panoz had its own transdermal patch in the front-engine Esperante GTR-1. The racer did battle with rear-engined prototype racers, and even fit the car with a prototype battery-hybrid unit. Always ahead of his time, Panoz’s engineering would become a standard fixture to Le Mans prototype racers over a decade later. The Esperante itself would lead to a production series of cars.
Perhaps motorsport fans and enthusiasts alike will remember Panoz as the individual to save the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA). Panoz stepped in to purchase IMSA after the entity traded hands numerous times in the 1990s. Eventually, the American Le Mans Series launched in its place, which soared to new heights under Panoz. Throughout the 2000s, Panoz expanded his motorsport entrepreneurial empire.
Panoz purchased the G Force Indy Car constructor and watched as the Panoz G Force won consecutive wins at the Indianapolis 500 in 2003 and 2004; his Elan Technologies subsidiary developed engines and composites for open-wheel and sports car racing; and he partnered with DeltaWing to eventually take full control of the top-speed project. In his final acts, Panoz launched Green4U Technologies with a goal to one day race battery-electric racers in the Le Mans Prototype series. The company showed off its first prototype at the 2017 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The company also plans to launch an electric city car and minibus model. In a return to his roots, Panoz bestowed the world with the Avezzano GT4 racer, which continues to do battle in the Pirelli World Challenge