What’s a Panoz? More than just an electric race car
If you’ve never heard of Panoz before the Green4U Panoz Racing GT-EV was unveiled earlier this week at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, you probably haven’t been paying close attention. The company has a long history on both sides of the pit wall, which began in 1989 when Daniel Panoz founded the company.
The company started building road cars in 1992 — the Roadster and then the AIV Roadster a few years later. However, it wasn’t until Panoz’s father Don became involved did the company take an interest in motorsports. In 1996, Don purchased Road Atlanta. One year later, Panoz entered racing with the Esperante GTR-1, which he developed for the 24 Hours of Le Mans. A road-going version came in 2000, but it shared nothing with its racing sibling other than a few styling cues.
In 2006, the Esperante GLTM won its class at the 12 Hours of Sebring and earned a class victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Photo by LAT Photographic
In 1999, Don founded the American Le Mans Series (now the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship after merging with the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series). The new series coincided with Panoz’s LMP-1 Roadster-S. The car would have two iterations — LMP07 and LMP01 EVO — before all three retired at the end of 2003.
Through the 2000s, Panoz built several variations of its Esperante in both road and racing versions. Panoz developed a GTS version for competition in Sports Car Club of American events. It was 600 pounds lighter than its road-going sibling and came with a roll cage, harness and other racing bits.
The Panoz LMP-1 Roadster-S began racing in 1999. Photo by LAT Photographic
Panoz also built an Esperante GLTM to race in the GT2 category of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. In 2006, a car run by Multimatic won its class at the 12 Hours of Sebring. A class victory came for the car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans that same year.
Panoz’s next car was the Abruzzi. A racing version hit the track in 2011 at the 12 Hours of Sebring. And while a road-going version was planned, there’s no mention of it on the company’s website.
The Panoz Avezzano GT4 is currently racing in the Pirelli World Challenge. Photo by LAT Photographic
Last year, Panoz revealed its first new road car since the Esperante — the Avezzano. And yes, there is a racing version. The Avezzano GT4 is currently racing in the Pirelli World Challenge.
Panoz may not have the same name recognition as Porsche and Ferrari, but the company is dedicated to motorsports. The company has fielded cars and provided chassis and engines to others looking to race. The Green4U Panoz Racing GT-EV shows the company has now plans of slowing down.