Panoz Esperante. Picture by Bill Weiss
Panoz Auto Development is a manufacturer of high-performance automobiles. The company was created in 1989 by Danny Panoz, the son of Don Panoz who is a motorsport (and pharmaceutical) mogul. Panoz Auto Development is based in Hoschton, Georgia in the United States. All Panoz cars are handmade in a workshop located in Hoschton.
Panoz Motor Sports Group is a business entity consisting of the motorsports-related holdings of Don Panoz, father of Danny Panoz. The Panoz Motor Sports Group includes racing car constructors, race tracks and several racing series. The group also has its own racing school, a school that operates at several different locations.
Élan Motorsport Technologies is an umbrella company that contains the various race car manufacturing companies owned by the abovementioned Panoz Motor Sports Group. Élan Motorsport Technologies design as well as builds the cars that carry the Panoz brand. Elan has also purchased several other manufacturers, such as the Indy Racing League constructor G-Force and the renowned Formula Ford builders Van Diemen. Cars designed and built by Elan Motorsport Technologies are today racing in many championships throughout the world, including the Indy Racing League, the Champ Car World Series, the Le Mans Series and the American Le Mans Series.
Panoz make road cars as well as racing cars, and has always strived to maintain a close connection between the road cars the company's racing projects. Panoz has for instance created the Panoz Roadster, the AIV Roadster, and the Panoz Esperante. Panoz cars has competed in racing series since 1997 and often met with considerable success. The winner of the GT2 class at the 2006 24 Hours of Le Mans was an Esperante GTLM from Panoz.
Panoz owns a test road, the Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia, where all Panoz cars are tested.
During recent years, Panoz has shifted its American Le Mans and European racing programs towards production-based classes, since this makes it possible for modified Esperante variants to race.
The American Le Mans Series and Panoz
In 1999, the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) was formed by Don Panoz. Panoz is also the owner of the organization that sanctions the American Le Mans Series, the International Motor Sports Association.
The ALMS is based in Canada and the United States, and is made up of a series of sprint and endurance races. As the name suggests, it was moulded after the 24 Hours of Le Mans and Panoz partnered up with the organizers of the 24 Hours of Le Mans – the Automobile Club de L'Ouest (ACO) – in order to make it possible for ALMS teams to earn automatic entries in the Le Mans 24 Hours. The American Le Mans Series contains four classes. Le Mans prototypes can compete in the LMP1 or LMP2 class, while Grand Touring cars can compete in GT1 or GT2. The length of the race varies from 100 minutes to 12 hours.
Panoz has contracted the Prototype Technology Group – a longtime BMW Motorsport partner – to campaign the GTLM in the ALMS and Le Mans for the 2007 American LeMans season.