Don Panoz, founder of the American Le Mans Series and creator of some of the craziest racing cars on the planet. The Esperante GT1 was an insane front engine coupe. A modified Esperante was even one of the very first hybrid race cars. It’s successor was equally nuts, an open top, front engine, purpose built LMP1 car. Both cars saw some actual success. Panoz’s most successful race car was the Esperante GTLM. The Esperante GTLM won its class at Le Mans in 2006 (GT2). All of Panoz’s cars were funky and different and weird none of them could hold a candle to Panoz’s crowning achievement, the Deltawing and later the Deltawing coupe. The insane Ben Bowlby designed prototype started life as a Garage 56 entrant and later was given approval to race in IMSA’s Weather Tech Sports Car Championship. There was even talk of a GT version.
Panoz’s racing plans going forward are less clear. With new Prototype regulations coming IMSA’s way the Deltawing has no place to race anymore. It has been given special permission to race in the 2017 Daytona 24 Hours. Panoz has expressed interest in somehow becoming a DPi manufacturer if the right team lines up but that is an extreme long shot. More likely is the new Panoz introduced last week. Panoz pulled the cover off their latest GT car. The Esperante Avezzano. Which Panoz has expressed interest in racing.
“We’re probably going to race the Avezzano,” Panoz said. “I think it’s a good platform. We need to reorganize ourselves a little bit and produce the car.”
Avezzano is a town in Italy, where in 1915 an earthquake nearly killed 30,000 people. Among the Victims was Panoz’s Grandmother. Panoz’s family was taken in by another family. Something Don Panoz does not forget.
“Without that woman coming to take care of the kids, I would not be here. That’s why that car is called the Avezzano. It’s a culmination of what my life was traded for. Out of tragedy, we’re all here celebration from what can grow from a tragedy.”
No further details have been given at this time. No word on the class the new car would race in. Panoz is kicking the tires on a lot of options for his racing team’s future. It is abundantly clear the man wants to go racing. Where that will be and what form it will take is anyone’s guess.