Two of the most iconic Panoz-built race cars will take to the track again in honor of its late founder, with the Panoz GTR-1 and DeltaWing set for demo laps prior to Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans.
Jan Magnussen will handle controls of the recently restored GTR-1 chassis No. 7, which raced at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1998, with Johnny O’Connell set to climb behind the wheel of the Stars-and-Stripes-liveried DeltaWing DWC13.
Panoz, the founder of the Petit Le Mans event in 1998, passed away last month at the age of 83 following a short battle with cancer.
“Don has a lot of history with the Road Atlanta track and this race,” said his wife, Nancy. “I’m very happy we can have two of his most iconic cars do a lap of the track and it’s nice to have both Jan and Johnny back in a Panoz. I know that it would have made Don very happy.”
Magnussen, who got his start in sports car racing with the Braselton, Ga.-based team and constructor in 1998, says he feels “very privileged” to drive the GTR-1 again.
“Hopefully we will give everyone the chance to remember all the wonderful things that Don Panoz bought to the world of racing,” he said.
O’Connell added: “It’s a huge honor to once again represent the Panoz name. I got to drive the Panoz GT car as well as the prototype all around the world, and letting me do some testing in the DeltaWing was not only fun, but kind of Don to give me that chance.
“The concept itself of the DeltaWing speaks to the imagination and the creativity of the great man himself.”
The two cars will be on display inside Turn 1 in the main paddock all weekend, along with an Avezzano GT4 car and two street car versions, an Esperante GT2, the ‘Spirit of America’ LM-01 and Don’s personal 2003 Esperante coupe.
Fans will also be invited to sign the rear wing of the Avezzano GT4 during the grid walk.
In another tribute to Panoz, the grand marshal for Saturday’s ten-hour enduro is set to be a fan, as part of a contest initiated by Road Atlanta.