With an impending North American debut set for this Saturday for the Nissan DeltaWing and the American Le Mans Series and IMSA announcing on Friday that the concept will be eligible for championship points in 2013, DeltaWing project Manager Partner Don Panoz is confident of a bright future for the unique racer.
The Ben Bowlby-designed machine made its race debut at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans – capturing enormous fan and media attention.
The needle-nosed racer features half the weight, half the power and half the aerodynamic drag of a typical Le Mans prototype.
The Nissan DeltaWing returns to the track this weekend for the final round of the 2012 American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón.
American Gunnar Jeannette and Spaniard Lucas Ordoñez will drive the car in the 1000 mile / 10 hour Petit Le Mans event.
While only one of the unqiue DeltaWing machines currently exists, Panoz and the Project 56 DeltaWing partners have their sights on seeing more machines on track in the future.
The American Le Mans Series and IMSA announced on Friday that the car will be classified to run for points in 2013. The rule-makers will analyze data from the Petit Le Mans event to investigate which class the car will compete in and whether any performance balancing will be required.
DON PANOZ Q&A
Q: HOW MUCH ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO SEEING THE CAR RACE AT PETIT LE MANS THIS WEEK?
A: “Given the fact the car was born here in the US, I’m very excited to see it make its second race start here at Petit Le Mans.
“I founded this race back in 1998 and have been thrilled to see it become one of the biggest sportscar races in the world.
“To now have such a unique car compete in Petit Le Mans is a huge thrill. I know the guys at Road Atlanta have seen a huge amount of interest and ticket sales really stepped up when the announcement was made.”
Q: HOW DOES THE ANNOUNCEMENT BY ALMS/IMSA AFFECT THE FUTURE OF THE CAR?
A: “Our partnerships with Nissan and Michelin have been hugely beneficial for all parties and everyone would love to see the car compete on a regular basis.
“We’ll certainly be having discussions regarding continuing the program and showcasing the unique packaging of the car which makes it so different from anything else on track.
“At Le Mans (and again this week at Petit Le Mans) the car was there to demonstrate what is possible when you think outside the box from a design perspective. Full credit must go to the ACO in creating the Garage 56 concept that allowed the car to exist in the first place.
“But for next year we’ll have the chance to race and compete for a championship. The program for next year isn’t confirmed as yet, but we now know we have an opening and an opportunity.
“We’ll now kick off discussions with our existing partners and potential marketing partners for the 2013 season.”
Q: COULD WE SEE ADDITIONAL CARS ON TRACK NEXT YEAR?
A: “DeltaWing Racing Cars is certainly in the business of building cars and we’re already dealing with enquiries from prospective customers.
“Now we know the car can compete for wins and championships, the game has changed quite significantly.
“It was obviously very difficult for a potential customer to purchase a car without knowing where they could race it. That hurdle has now been cleared.
“As I mentioned at the recent announcement in Daytona about the merger between ALMS and Grand-AM, we want to ensure P2 machines, Daytona Prototypes and the DeltaWing have the opportunity to compete together in 2014.
“The phone began to ring over the weekend after the ALMS/IMSA announcement on Friday and I’m expecting a busy week of meetings ahead.”
Q: COULD THE DELTAWING BE SEEN IN OTHER CHAMPIONSHIPS?
A: “The original design was created as a single seat/open wheel car and the concept certainly can still be used in that format.
“At our facility here in Braselton we’ve mass produced cars in the past for Champ Car, the Superleague Formula series and other junior formula. We certainly have the capability.
“When you look at the enormous number of single seater championships around the world – especially in Europe – we know there is interest in making their championship stand out from the crowd.
“While the die hard fan can obviously tell the difference between Formula 1, IndyCar, IndyLights, GP2, World Series by Renault or Formula 2 – the casual fan has no idea.
“That is where the potential growth in the sport is – attracting new fans, younger fans.
“Every youngster that ever sees the DeltaWing is blown away by it. We’d love to see a single seater championship of DeltaWings do battle on track one day.”