Don Panoz: A Lifetime of Accomplishments
Don Panoz’s distinguished career began in 1961 when he and Army buddy and fellow West Virgina 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.
In 1997 Panoz created 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. 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 debuted the world's first successful modern hybrid race car – the Panoz Q9 GTR-1 Hybrid – affectionately known as "Sparky." Panoz race cars won the famed Indy 500 in 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2004. In 2006, Panoz Esperante GTLM race cars won both the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Panoz also was awarded the coveted “Sprit of Le Mans" award by L’Automobile Club d L’Ouest.
In 2013, Panoz became just the 29th inductee into the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame, joining entrepreneurs such as Andrew Carnegie, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Finally, in 2014 he has been nominated for the Motorsports Hall of Fame’s Bob Russo Heritage Award.