Panoz Avezzano To Prove Itself On Track In 2017

Photo: Martin Feigen Art of Gears
Photo: Martin Feigen Art of Gears /

The stunning new Panoz Avezzano is going to be competing in the Pirelli World Challenge in 2017. A return to GT racing for the American car builder with a two effort begins in St. Pete in March.

While attending the first public display of the Avezzano prior to the 2016 Petit LeMans, there was a steady rumble in the room. Everyone knew that the beautiful creation sitting in front of them was destined to race. With Panoz rich racing history, the discussion was not if, but when we would see it on the track.

Panoz has announced that we will get to see what the Avezzano can do in competition in the 2017 Pirelli World Challenge. Racing in the GTS class, the effort will have 8 opportunities to show off its new crown jewel. The first race for the Avezzano will be in St. Petersburg on the streets March 10-12.

While Panoz has a much-storied history racing int he IMSA series, the choice of the Pirelli World Challenge makes perfect sense. When the green flag drops, the Avezzano will be racing against the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and the Audi TT among others. The class will showcase the beauty and uniqueness of the Avezzano against other production sports cars.

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Panoz will utilize their in-house aluminum 6.2l powerplant to race with. Bolted to a close ratio six-speed manual gearbox, power and torque will not be a struggle in 2017. The new design from Panoz does seem to be built to race, but the addition of a huge wing on the rear decklid will take away from its lines.

With the first production car coming out of Braselton Georgia in the summer, the racing version will be our first look. How better to sell a car to the world than to race on television. The Pirelli World Challenge does a great job of showcasing factory creations. Unlike NASCAR or IMSA where the entrants often do not look like their dealer counterparts.

Panoz has been racing the DeltaWing for the last several seasons in prototype classes. They had announced a final race for the car at Daytona in February. They decided not to run in the Rolex 24 once they decide to take the Avezzano racing.

England native Ian James has been announced as the driver of one of the two cars. His extensive racing history and background with Panoz makes him a perfect choice. His wide-ranging experience will help with the ground up testing and development of the program. James has driven for Panoz GT program head Tom Milner in 2010 and 2011.

When we covered the unveiling of the Avezzano back in October, we noted how spectacular the car is. Getting this car on the track is going to be a herculean task, but I have learned to never underestimate Dr. Panoz and his team. Come March in St. Pete, I will be watching very closely at the Avezzano and excited to see what it can do.

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