The Atlanta Concours d’Elegance organizers have created The Visionary Award to honor Don Panoz, an early and enthusiastic Atlanta Concours supporter who envisioned how the premier event would benefit Braselton, Ga. and Metro Atlanta area. Panoz passed away on Sept. 11, 2018. He was 83.
According to Bill Wallet, CEO of the Atlanta Concours, The Visionary Award will be presented to an entrant, sponsor or vendor that best exemplifies the futurist spirit that so defined Don Panoz. The award will be presented during Sunday’s Atlanta Concours awards ceremony.
In 1961 Panoz, along with army buddy Milan “Mike” Puskar, founded Milan Pharmaceuticals in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. Milan Pharmaceuticals evolved into Mylan, a company that now sells an estimated 1,300 products to more than 140 countries and territories worldwide. In the 1970s Panoz founded Élan Corp. in Ireland and led a research team that created time-release medication delivered through a transdermal patch, commonly used today as the nicotine patch.
Panoz planted roots in Georgia and created Chateau Elan Winery and Resort in Braselton, a first-class wine, spa, and golf resort and conference center that helped put the small community on the map and stimulated the area’s economic and residential growth. In the mid ‘90s he turned his entrepreneurial eye toward sports car racing, establishing the Panoz Motor Sports Group, Elan Motorsports Technologies, and acquiring the International Motor Sport Association. He founded the American Le Mans Series, invested in the iconic Road Atlanta, Sebring International Raceway, and Canadian Tire Motorsports Park racing circuits, and created Road Atlanta’s annual Petit Le Mans 10-hour/1,000-mile endurance race. Panoz is widely credited with resurrecting sports car racing in North America and continued pursuing innovative automotive technologies until his death.
Supporting the Atlanta Concours founders’ dreams
The Atlanta Concours would not exist without Don Panoz. Very early on when co-founders Bill Wallet and Harry Krix dreamed of an event for the area’s lovers of automotive history, they met with Panoz and sought advice from the visionary with a knack for turning dreams into reality. He often shared his wisdom, jovially advising we should set aside time to dream every day, but understand that sometimes there will be nightmares.
It didn’t take long for Panoz to envision how the Atlanta Concours could benefit the Metro Atlanta area and his beloved Braselton. He threw his full support behind the Atlanta Concours, directing his teams to do everything possible to ensure the new event’s success.
“Don’s ability to see untapped potential was uncanny,” said Wallet. “It was as if he had a 500-horsepower crystal ball in his head. I’m forever grateful for his advice and support, which ensured the success we’ve enjoyed since those early days.”
Panoz, the high-performance and luxury sports car brand created by Don’s son Dan Panoz in 1989, is a founding sponsor that brought numerous race cars examples from Don Panoz’s 20-plus year racing history to the inaugural Atlanta Concours in 2016.
John Leverett, vice president of sales and marketing for Panoz, spoke about Don Panoz’s involvement in the first Atlanta Concours’ planning meetings.
Don would arrive at EVERY meeting with a unique idea,. He insisted that we try to see his vision and determine the viability of his idea. ‘No’ was not an acceptable answer. A day without an idea was a day lost!
— John Leverett
On Don’s urging Panoz debuted its new Panoz Avezzano sports car at the event, exhibiting it alongside other Panoz sports cars and the many historic race cars. The next year Panoz brought its new Avezzano race car soon after Team Panoz Racing completed its first Pirelli World Challenge racing season. This year Team Panoz Racing and the Avezzano race car won the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge GTS Sprint/SprintX Manufacturers’ Championship. Panoz will once again be at the Atlanta Concours, and this year will no doubt be extra special to the Panoz organization and family.
The third-annual Atlanta Concours d’Elegance will be held Sept. 29-30, 2018, and will once again grace the splendid setting that is the Chateau Elan Golf Club, adjacent to the Chateau Elan Winery and Resort.
Nearly 200 extremely rare automobiles from across the nation, including examples from the Evergreen Collection, Stahls Automotive Foundation, the Gilmore Car Museum, the Elliott Museum, and the Lane Motor Museum, will be on display. The main event is Sunday when rare, meticulously restored and maintained, and historically significant automobiles will compete for prestigious Atlanta Concours d’Elegance Best in Class and Best in Show awards.
Attendees can also see new cars on Manufacturers Row where brands such as Porsche, the 2018 Atlanta Concours featured marque, as well as Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Lotus, McLaren, Maserati, Mercedes-Benz, Panoz, Rolls Royce, Alfa Romeo, Audi, Karma, and Lexus will display their latest offerings, with some offering test drives.
Note: Press release courtesy of The Atlanta Concours d’Elegance.