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Don Panoz Passes Away at 83

Motorsports visionary and ALMS founder Don Panoz dies at age of 83…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

Don Panoz, the co-founder of Panoz cars and creator of the American Le Mans Series, has passed away Tuesday at the age of 83.

Panoz died after a short battle with pancreatic cancer.

One of the most influential figures in the world of motorsports, Panoz founded the ALMS in 1999, while going on to achieve success with his automotive brand as well, on both the prototype and GT racing fronts.

The Panoz Esperante GT-LM claimed class wins at both the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Twelve Hours of Sebring in 2006, following near-decade a run with GTP and LMP1 machinery in sports car racing worldwide.

Panoz was instrumental in bringing ACO-spec racing to North America, first with the Petit Le Mans in 1998 and the creation of the ALMS one year later, through a licensing agreement with the French organization.

The ALMS grew into one of the leading motorsports series in the world, prior to its merger with the NASCAR-owned Grand-Am in 2012 to form the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

While having held a position as honorary vice-chairman of IMSA, Panoz continued as a team owner and constructor, taking on the DeltaWing program and most recently, development of the Panoz Avezzano GT4, which claimed the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge GTS manufacturers’ championship.

In addition to series and team ownership, Panoz had also owned Mosport International Raceway as well as Road Atlanta and ran Sebring International Raceway prior to sales to a Canadian consortium and NASCAR, respectively.

Panoz, a pioneer in the medical industry with the invention of the time-release patch, recently expanded his automotive company into China with Green4U Technologies, with the creation of electric vehicles.

His passing ironically came on Sept. 11, a day Panoz held closely in remembrance, with tributes to the nation’s firefighters and service workers having been adorned on Panoz race cars since the tragic events in 2001.

Panoz leaves behind his wife of 63 years Nancy; sons Danny and Chris; daughters Donna, Dena, Lisa and Andrea, along with many grandchildren and great grandchildren, and numerous longtime friends and business associates from around the world.

Sportscar365 sends its condolences to the Panoz family.

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

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 FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

29 Comments

29 Comments

  1. Kimi

    September 11, 2018 at 12:48 pm

    May you rest in peace Mr. Panoz. On the behalf of all sportscar racing fans, thank you.

  2. N8

    September 11, 2018 at 1:29 pm

    RIP to a great man.

  3. Mark - Toronto

    September 11, 2018 at 1:43 pm

    My sincere condolences to his family and friends. I will be forever thankful to him not only for his many contributions, but for keeping top level sports car racing in North America. I would also be remiss if I did not thank him for his investment in keeping my local track of Mosport a viable concern during his tenure. His cars were fan favourites, as was he.

  4. TP

    September 11, 2018 at 1:55 pm

    As one of his former employee’s, i consider it an honor for having worked for Dr P. Always friendly and humble for someone who had achieved so much.
    Way too soon Dr P.
    Tailwinds forever.
    God Bless.
    TP.

  5. Kirk

    September 11, 2018 at 2:35 pm

    So sad to hear. One of the truly good guys. If it weren’t for him lots of us American sports car racing fans wouldn’t have had anything to enjoy since the mid 90’s. Maybe Road Atlanta should change the name of it’s October race to “The Don Panoz Memorial Motul Petit LeMans” so everyone knows just how important he was to our favorite sport.

    • Andy

      September 11, 2018 at 3:06 pm

      I hope IMSA and management is smart enough to know that is required. There HAS to be multiple parade laps of the Panoz stable for Petit week, most of the models have a working model just down the road and they ran a prerace parade lap with the Abruzzi.

    • Jenner

      September 11, 2018 at 10:25 pm

      Petit Le Mans trophy needs to be renamed the “Don Panoz Cup” also.

      He did everything he did in Sportscar racing, “For the Fans”.

      Thank you Don Panoz, you will not be forgotten, you live in millions of Sportscar fans hearts forever.

  6. FlyingLobster27

    September 11, 2018 at 3:02 pm

    When I first went to Le Mans in 2000, the first car I vividly remember drive by between Karting and the Ford chicane was a front-engined, growling Panoz. An instant favourite. It was a joy to see and hear one again at Le Mans Classic this year.
    Cheers Don!

  7. lateapex

    September 11, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    Ugh. A guy who took sportscar racing by the scruff of the neck and made it great again. Thank you sir, and thank you for the bagpipes. You will be missed.

  8. JaymondoGB

    September 11, 2018 at 3:39 pm

    RIP and Thank you for your services to sportcar racing.

  9. Steve

    September 11, 2018 at 4:26 pm

    Thank you Mr Panoz for all you have done in motorsports and the heathcare industry. You will be truly missed but never forgotten. God speed!

    IMSA, please put together a tribute to Mr Panoz at Petit Le mans this year! Your organization is where it is today largely due to him. Please don’t let us fans down!

  10. Joel

    September 11, 2018 at 4:29 pm

    R.I.P Don Panoz, Motorsport will never forget you.

  11. Limerockian

    September 11, 2018 at 4:42 pm

    “For the fans”
    Thank you Don Panoz. You made many people’s life better. You will be remembered.

  12. Steven

    September 11, 2018 at 4:55 pm

    Rest in peace Mr. Panoz. You will be greatly missed. Definitely one of the good ones in the racing world.

  13. Andy Flinn

    September 11, 2018 at 6:15 pm

    I am glad that Panoz has passed away. “Dr. Don” almost single-handily destroyed sportscar racing in North America.

    The quicker anything else associated with the stink of the failed ALMS series dies, the better.

    • You don't matter

      September 11, 2018 at 7:10 pm

      Fuck You!

  14. Kirk

    September 11, 2018 at 7:11 pm

    And Andy Flinn is a repulsive waste of human flesh. Please, for the sake of humanity, don’t reproduce.

  15. Andy Flinn

    September 11, 2018 at 7:39 pm

    This is the real Andy Flinn and I did not write what appears above.

    Hopefully, rational people will understand and accept that. The trolls probably won’t.

    Apparently, ANYONE can now post on this message board as ANYONE they want to be.

    John, it shouldn’t be too hard to figure it out.

    “You don’t matter” and “Kirk” were easily duped because they’re both morons and will probably believe ANYTHING.

    Anyway, I’ll be at the Petit Le Mans next month with my brothers, just like last year, and the year before that, and the year before that….

    I think a tribute to Don Panoz would be great way to remember this year’s race.

    • Steven

      September 11, 2018 at 8:22 pm

      Hell, even I knew that was a fake the moment I saw it and we both have our fair share of disagreements.

      Considering that an email address has to be used to post. I can’t see why a moderator can’t see who does this delete stuff from the pathetic trolls.

      • Andy Flinn

        September 11, 2018 at 8:30 pm

        Thanks, Steven. I appreciate that.

  16. lateapex

    September 11, 2018 at 8:22 pm

    Unfortunately, you can call yourself anything you want in the 365 comments.

  17. John

    September 11, 2018 at 8:52 pm

    Dr. Panoz leaves quite a legacy, not just in racing, but also in medicine.

    His achievements in racing are all the more remarkable, given that he wasn’t a life long racer and only found that passion later in life.

    American sports car fans certainly owe a debt of gratitude to Dr. Panoz, for bringing stability to the sport in a time of uncertainly, in helping to preserve the tracks he purchased and invested in, and even just building some pretty damned cool cars.

    “For the fans”

    Thanks, from a grateful fan.

  18. Northstar

    September 11, 2018 at 9:22 pm

    I always loved seeing what wacky, yet strangely beautiful thing he would roll out next. It’s a shame that won’t happen anymore.

  19. kv

    September 11, 2018 at 9:54 pm

    ONLY ROGER PENSKE is remaining of all the GREAT ROAD RACERS

    • bjones

      September 11, 2018 at 10:21 pm

      Actually, Roush is still around as well as Andretti and Foyt, but as for car builders you are probably right I am afraid.

      • George 917-30

        September 12, 2018 at 3:23 am

        And Jim Hall – not active in today’s motor sports, , but very much still here.

    • Kirk

      September 12, 2018 at 2:02 pm

      But only Don Panoz was uniquely innovative. When every other manufacturer was copying the Audi R8 he was introducing a front engine sports car. Later on he introduced the Deltawing, which was very unique in its own right. Even though some (like the Deltawing) were never all that successful I applaud him for trying new and different things and being a breath of fresh air to sports car racing.

  20. Mike coter

    September 12, 2018 at 1:15 pm

    Rest in peace Don, my condolences go to his family Dr Panoz brought sportcar racing to this country and I have been a fan since 2004 so the American Lemans Series era. Mr Panoz you and idea to bring European sportscar racing with american flare is what got me into sportcars racing, I am ever in you debt sir

  21. David C Dean

    September 14, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    I camped at turn 9 for many years. I will never forget the year he stopped by in a 3 piece suit and sat down and had a drink with us. He will be missed and remembered as a down to earth person that brought sports car racing out of a dark time. Thank you for everything that you did.

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