Panoz Avezzano Proving It On The Track For Customers


Most carmakers, when they are deciding to race a new model, do it to try and give the model a racing pedigree. For Panoz, their history is defined by racing. Now they are racing the all-new Panoz Avezzano in the Pirelli World Challenge to show off what the street version can do.

When the all-new Panoz Avezzano was unloaded in St. Petersburg, Florida for the opening round of the Pirelli World Challenge, they were debuting the beauty to the racing world. After seeing the unveiling of the street car in October, everyone knew it was destined for the track. In an unimaginably short time, Panoz is in GT racing again.

One week before the 2017 Firestone Grand Prix, I was invited down to Road Atlanta to see the Avezzano take to the track for the first time. Just days ahead of the green flag, the car was wrapped in beautiful red and black colors ready to prove itself. The two-day shakedown sessions were all they were going to get before race weekend.

The first day found some steering issues that had to be addressed. The second was a day to see what she had. After a couple of photo shoots with the street prototype, the #50 took the track. The undulating circuit of Road Atlanta would provide a great test bed for the brakes and suspension. It was an amazing sight to see the car, less than three months since inception, racing down the long front straight.

Panoz-Avezzano /

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As I talked to team chief Tom Milner, he reminded me of the massive undertaking it was. To go from street prototype to racecar in such a short time. The big picture was, they were not showcasing they could build a racecar, but that the Avezzano is an amazing street car. The options that anyone purchasing an Avezzano can choose, could give it more power than the racing version. The racing history of Panoz has already been put into the street version. The racing they are doing now is adding to the knowledge base going into the production car.

On Friday of the Grand Prix, its first time in competition, Ian James was able to qualify 9th. During the Friday session, they were able to race their way up to 5th before being forced to retire with cooling issues. Saturday, with cooling issues solved, James raced the car in the top until on-track contact ended the weekend.

The first Panoz Avezzano has not yet been delivered to the first customer. What the team learns from racing, is directly transferred to the street car. The company’s rich racing history went into the development of the Avezzano, but they never stop learning. One of the reasons for choosing the Pirelli World Challenge was that the car would stay so close to the production model. The stock engine is virtually identical to what will roll out of the Braselton showroom.

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One of the defining elements of the Avezzano is its sound. Several people with the team said the same thing, “It sounds like a Panoz”. It has a brutal beauty to its rumble. A sound that is shared by its street companion, all be it quieter. Panoz builds cars for people who love to drive. Not just drive fast, but love the feel of the road and have a car hug the corners and launch down the straight. That is why they race. Winning trophies is great, but building some of the best cars in the world is what defines them.