AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES FOUNDER DR. DON PANOZ INDUCTED INTO SEBRING HALL OF FAME Sebring, Fla. -- When he purchased Sebring International Raceway in 1998, Dr. Don Panoz said he just wanted to make a difference. Friday, he was honored for that .
AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES FOUNDER DR. DON PANOZ INDUCTED INTO SEBRING HALL OF FAME
Sebring, Fla. -- When he purchased Sebring International Raceway in 1998, Dr. Don Panoz said he just wanted to make a difference. Friday, he was honored for that . and much, much more.
Dr. Panoz was one of six 2006 inductees into Sebring International Raceway Hall of Fame. The founder of the American Le Mans Series joined a prestigious list of names, all of which are firmly entrenched in sports car lore.
"Sebring is the grand old lady of sports car racing, but she needed some attention," Dr. Panoz said during his acceptance speech on the eve of the 54th running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. "My goal was to make a difference, and I think I have accomplished that."
Three-time Sebring winner Phil Hill, two-time winners Brian Redman and Bob Akin, three-time winning car owner Briggs Cunningham and veteran race official Charlie Earwood also joined the prestigious Sebring Hall of Fame this year.
Dr. Panoz is widely regarded as the savior of sports car racing in North America. In 1999, he took Sebring International Raceway to a new level, initiating an improvement program that resulted among other things in the new pit complex, complete with VIP suites and an expanded media center; and the Chateau Elan hotel, which overlooks the Sebring's famed Hairpin turn.
That same year he founded the American Le Mans Series, reviving international sports car racing in the United States, and at the same time campaigning his namesake cars that proved they could compete and win against the world's best.
He has the second longest tenure of any Sebring promoter; only founder Alec Ulmann was at the helm longer.
A pharmaceutical entrepreneur who has found success in a variety of industries, his contributions to sports car racing in general, and Sebring in particular, place him among the sports most positive influences.
"Sebring is the place where all the legends have raced - Andretti, Moss, Gurney, Rahal, Phil Hill - the list goes on and on," Dr. Panoz said. "I'm honored to be among those great names inducted into the Sebring Hall of Fame."