From pharmaceuticals to resorts, from race cars to wine, the accomplishments of Donald E. Panoz are the epitome of the entrepreneurial dream.
Don Panoz’s distinguished career formerly began in 1961 when he and Army buddy and fellow West Virginal University alum Milan “Mike” Puskar founded Milan Pharmaceuticals in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va., making Panoz the youngest president of a pharmaceutical company in the United States. Milan 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 created Élan Corp. in Ireland, which became a leader in drug delivery products and technology. Panoz led a research team that created time-release medication through a transdermal patch, commonly used today as the nicotine patch. Élan Corp. was the first Irish company to be publicly listed on the U.S. stock exchange, and today Panoz retains over 300 pharmaceutical industry patents.
Other accomplishments include founding Élan Technologies, which includes Élan Composites, Élan Power, Élan Precision and Élan Fabrication; and the Panoz Institute at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, which houses the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences.
In 1997 Panoz commissioned and campaigned the Panoz Esperante GTR-1, the first successful front-engine prototype race car in more than 30 years of racing. That same year he founded the Panoz Motor Sport Group, the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) endurance racing series, and the Petit Le Mans endurance sports car race, one of the largest car races on earth. From 1997 to 2002 Panoz Le Mans prototype race cars won eight endurance sports car championship races.
Panoz also is a hybrid racing pioneer. In 1998 he unveiled the world’s first successful hybrid race car, which raced at the 1998 Petit Le Mans race. In 1999 Panoz was named co-winner of Autosport magazine Technology Award, and he is the founder of the Women’s Global GT Championship. Panoz G-Force chassis Indianapolis race cars won the famed Indy 500 in 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2004. In 2006 a Panoz Esperante GT LM race car won both the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and Panoz was awarded the coveted “Sprit of Le Mans award by L’Automobile Club d L’Ouest.
He also is chairman of the board for NanoLumens, a designer and manufacturer of large-format LED display solutions in any size, shape or curvature, and founded SICOR Inc., a California-based pharmaceutical company. Panoz also founded international resorts such as Chateau Élan in Georgia, The Vintage Golf Club in Australia, Diablo Grande Winery & Resort in California, and St. Andrews Bay Resort and Spa in Scotland.
Today Panoz is and chairman of Braselton, Ga.-based DeltaWing Technology Group and managing partner of DeltaWing Racing Cars. DeltaWing Technology Group provides a wide range of design, engineering, manufacturing, and transportation technologies solutions and is committed to delivering fuel efficient and emissions-reducing technologies that benefit everyday drivers and commuters.
In 2013, Panoz became just the 29th inductee into the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame, joining entrepreneurs such as Andrew Carnegie; Thomas Edison; Henry Ford; Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics; Bill Gates; Debbi Fields, founder of Mrs. Fields Cookies; Richard Branson; Sara Blakely, founder and owner of Spanx Inc.; Ted Turner; and Warren Buffet. Finally, he is a 2014 recipient of the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America’s Bob Russo Heritage Award.
In 2015 Panoz received the La Bella Macchina award at the 2015 Concorso Italiano in Monterey, Calif. He also is the 2015 recipient of the Women in the Winner’s Circle Leadership Award, presented by motorsports pioneer Lyn St. James and the Women’s Sports Foundation at the 2015 Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda race at Road Atlanta. Finally, Panoz has been inducted into the West Virginia University’s College of Business Hall of Fame.
Sports car veteran Tim Keene joins DeltaWing Racing Cars as team manager effective in early June. Keene brings a wealth of racing experience to the team, including seven Daytona Prototype team championships and three consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona victories.
An Indianapolis resident, Keene has an impressive 20-year career in motorsports with Chip Ganassi Racing. Starting as a truck driver and refueler in 1994, Keene went on to become lead mechanic for CGR’s championship-winning drivers Alex Zanardi, Jimmy Vasser and Juan Montoya. Taking over the team’s sports car racing effort in 2004, Keene led the team to 40 victories, seven championships and five Rolex 24 Hour of Daytona wins over the span of 10 years.