The man who founded the Chateau Elan resort in Braselton and brought Le Mans racing to Hall County has died at the age of 83.
Published reports said Donald E. Panoz had fallen ill in recent weeks and died Tuesday morning, Sept. 11. A press release from the International Motorsports Association (IMSA) said Panoz had been battling cancer.
According to a biography from the West Virginia University Hall of Fame, Panoz was one of the founders of Milan Pharmaceuticals in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia in 1961. Milan became Nyland and then in the 1970s, Panoz founded Elan Corporation in Ireland. Panoz established Elan Pharmaceuticals in Gainesville in 1981; he sold the business 30 years later.
In addition, Panoz was a fixture in the motor sports world. His bio said in 1997, he commissioned the Panoz Esperante GTR-1, the first successful front-engine prototype race car in more than three decades of racing. The same year he founded the Panoz Motor Sport Group, the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) and the Petit Le Mans endurance race, which is held at Road Atlanta in South Hall County.
In addition, Panoz was the developer and owner of a number of resort properties, including Chateau Elan in Braselton, which was sold earlier this year.
At this time, no announcement has been made regarding funeral services for Don Panoz.