Don Panoz, class-winning team owner and endurance racing advocate, dead at 83
Don Panoz, the pharmaceutical pioneer who became a race track and team owner, has died. He was 83 years old.
While he got his start researching pharmaceuticals and had numerous businesses, including technology and real estate, gearheads know him because of Panoz Auto Development, the company he helped his son, Danny, found in 1989. The company would go on to produce race-only Le Mans Prototype cars as well as roadgoing homologation versions. The front-engine Panoz Esperante GTR-1 proved to be highly competitive in a sport that had been dominated by mid-engine designs for decades, while the LMP-1 roadster fared well in Le Mans against factory-backed teams from BMW, Audi, and Toyota.
Don Panoz also started the American Le Mans Series in 1999 and was part owner of both Sebring Raceway and Road Atlanta. After selling his interests in both tracks he maintained his interest and participation in endurance racing by working with DeltaWing Technologies and its radically-designed race car, which used technology DeltaWing hoped to bring to the street.
Don is survived by Nancy, his wife of 63 years; daughters Andrea, Dena, Donna, and Lisa; and sons Chris and Danny.