Racing innovator and entrepreneur Don Panoz has died aged 83. He passed away after falling ill in recent weeks.
Panoz was the inventor of the transdermal patch and, with his fortune made, became involved in the world of motorsports following the formation of Panoz, his own automotive company.
The Ohio resident became a household name in the 1990s with the creation of the Panoz Esperante GTR-1, a curious-looking front-engine prototype racer that took the fight to the dominant mid-engine race cars of the day. Panoz later launched a road-going vehicle dubbed the Esperante GT and created a selection of successful front-engine prototypes which raced in series around the world.
After establishing himself in the motorsport world, Panoz made the bold decision to purchase IMSA, turning it into the American Le Mans Series and acquiring circuits like Road Atlanta and Sebring. ALMS proved to be an extremely successful venture and, at the same time, his company’s Panoz G Force racer secured victories at the 2003 and 2004 Indy 500 for Team Penske and Rahal Letterman Racing.
In more recent times, Don Panoz headed-up the DeltaWing program, a controversial vehicle that was once known as a Nissan but ultimately developed into a unique model. While it didn’t have the success designer Ben Bowlby had hoped for, Panoz’s involvement in the project showed his desire to try something different, much like he did with the Esperante GTR-1.
Last year, Panoz launched Green4U Technologies and revealed an all-electric prototype at Le Mans. The company wants to launch an electric city car and an electric minibus.