Tuesday November 13th, 2018 2:02AM

UPDATE: Donald Panoz, entrepreneur and racing innovator, dies at 83

By AccessWDUN Staff
  Contact Editor

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. 

“Don Panoz will be remembered as a one of the most important figures in the history of sports car racing,” NASCAR Chairman and CEO and IMSA Chairman Jim France said in a press statement from IMSA. “Don was a true gentleman who deeply cared about our sport. That was obvious to all who are involved with sports car racing. He became a great friend and partner, and we shared the pride of combining GRAND-AM and the American Le Mans Series and re-establishing the IMSA brand, bringing sports car racing together again. Don was a true innovator whose work touched many lives.”

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. 

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Professional Sports, Local/State News, NASCAR News, Death / Obits News, Other Motorsports
  • Associated Tags: motorsports, road atlanta, Don Panoz, Donald E. Panoz, Chateau Elan , Elan Pharmaceuticals, American LeMans
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