Legendary Race Team Owner, Manufacturer, and Innovator Don Panoz Dies at 83

The entrepreneur used his knowledge and influence to pioneer racing for over 20 years.

Don Panoz, entrepreneur and American racing renaissance man, has passed away at the age of 83. The inventor, who’s credited with the creation of the time-release technology often associated with quit-smoking nicotine patches, used his fortune to promote motorsport and draw in world-class competition to the States. Panoz’s influence as a team owner, manufacturer and overall pioneer earned him an upstanding reputation that will carry far beyond his years which he used to improve and push forward in a time of major tech and cultural advancements. 

Panoz’s original Esperante GTR-1 initiated the American to global motorsport competition., Panoz

Panoz took up team ownership and car manufacturing in the late 1990s, running competitively in Le Mans’ GT1 category. As time progressed, “Dr. Don” moved his efforts to GT cars while also holding controlling interests in some of the greatest circuits in the U.S. including Road Atlanta and Sebring. His dealings in the world of motor racing eventually bred what became the American Le Mans Series, a league in which major manufacturers such as Audi, BMW, Porsche, and more flocked to in hopes of nationwide recognition and notoriety. 

Throughout the past two decades, Panoz invested in technology and partnered with the likes of Multimatic and Nissan, the latter which he accompanied in taking the unmistakable DeltaWing LMP1 racer to the Circuit de la Sarthe. By taking risks and stepping away from traditional approaches, Panoz took victory in major contests around the globe and claimed stake as one of the era’s greatest innovators.

The radical Nissan DeltaWing was renowned for its out-of-the-box design and construction., Nissan

The business magnate will surely be remembered by the community and celebrated at October’s 21st annual running of Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, an event which he started and served as grand marshal for in 2017.