Panoz Esperante GTR-1, taking an original approach!

At the end of the 1990s and the beginning of the noughties, the Panoz Esperante GTR-1 was the first symbol of the originality and passion of the man behind it, Don Panoz. He was also a major player in the renaissance of endurance racing as we know it today.

Don Panoz (1935-2018) made his fortune in the pharmaceutical industry as the inventor of the nicotine patch and he then tackled the car industry with his son, Dan.

The outstanding feature of the Panoz prototypes and GTs was their front-engined layout. This originality allied to their unusual shape and the large air intakes on the front bonnet gave them the nickname of the Batmobile as well as massive on-going popularity among spectators, especially those at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The 1997 Esperante GTR-1 was the first Panoz GT specially conceived for racing.  Designed by Reynard Motorsports it was powered by a V8 Elan engine (from Elan Power Products, an engineering company affiliated to Panoz), derived from a 6-litre Ford powerplant.

It raced in the 1997 FIA GT Championship with ninth places at Spa and Donington as its best results. The car shown here (chassis 03) also took part in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1997 and 2004 run by David Price Racing and Larbre Competition respectively (retired).

You can see this Panoz Esperante GTR-1 on track at the Grand Prix de l’Age d’Or in the Endurance Racing Legends field.