The entire sportscar community has lost a very influential person today. Dr. Don Panoz has passed away, after a long battle with cancer.
Panoz founded the Amerian Le Mans Series in 1998, giving the Le Mans cars a second home, outside Europe. The ALMS series was where Audi Sport North America had their home, when they didn’t compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. One of their biggest rivals through several seasons were the very caractaristic Panoz cars, with the rumbling V8 front engine.
They didn’t only race in the LMP1 category, but turned into GT2 afterwards. They won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the GT2 category with Team LNT in 2006.
It went a bit silent with the Panoz team for some seasons, until they started running the DeltaWing project, which had its ups and downs, and eventually concluded at the end of the 2016 season.
The ALMS merged with Grand-Am in 2013, after having been competitors for years. That gave a mix of Daytona Prototypes, LMP2 cars plus GTLM and GTD cars, and the LMPC class, as well . Today we know the series as WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, which is run under IMSA.
We have a lot to thank Dr. Don Panoz for regarding sportscar racing, as we know it today. He supported the whole LMP1, LMP2, GT1 and GT2 classes, and as we mentioned before, it gave the teams an opportunity to compete in more races than just Le Mans. It increased the interest in the USA, and added a lot of entries for the classic 24 hours race in France.
Honoured his memory, and our thoughts go out to his family and friends.