Don Panoz Isn’t Slowing Down

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Don Panoz Isn’t Slowing Down

Gary S. Vasilash –

May 9, 2016

Way back in 2000, we ran an article that opened with the provocative question: “Why Is Panoz America’s Coolest Car Company?”

The company, Panoz Auto Development, was established by Danny Panoz, whose father, Don Panoz, established the pharmaceutical company that invested the time-release transdermal patch—yes, the nicotine patch that is used by people who want to quit smoking.

As you might imagine, Don Panoz became rather wealthy as a result of that.

While his son was interested in building cars, Don Panoz was interested in car racing. And along the way he owned the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and the Road Atlanta and Sebring race tracks.

Don Panoz had a number of drivers who raced for teams he was associated with, including Mario Andretti, who drove a Panoz LMP1 car at Le Mans in 2000—and who crashed the car, which agitated Don Panoz such that even though he’d used the patch to quit smoking, he grabbed a cigarette from someone who walked by after the car radio had gone dead and regained the habit he’d lost.

Don Panoz is nothing if not knowledgeable and colorful, and even at age 81 deeply engaged in the auto industry, now through the DeltaWing Technology Group, of which he is the chairman.

Panoz shares some of his insights on this edition of “Autoline After Hours” with Autoline’s John McElroy, Todd Lassa of Automobile Magazine, and me.

The DeltaWing race car is a highly efficient vehicle that is clearly unusual in shape compared with the cars with which it competes in the IMSA 2016 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Series.

From plan view, it is essentially triangular, broad back by the rear tires and angling forward toward the front pair.

According to Panoz because the car is so light and aerodynamic, it can operate with a smaller engine than its competitors, and run much more efficiently. It is a combination of factors that he describes as “disruptive cumulative technologies.”

Panoz and his colleagues are taking this thinking to the design and engineering of passenger cars, such as a three-passenger car, the CitiGo, which he says is configured so that it can be powered by an internal combustion engine, an electric motor or a combination of the two.

And speaking of electric motors, DeltaWing Technology is working with DHX Electric Machines on the development of an electric motor that Panoz says are about 75% smaller than conventional motors due to an innovative design.

And you can see it all here: