|Katherine Legge in the DeltaWing Friday|
Don Panoz, chairman of DeltaWing Technology Group and long recognized in motorsports as the founder of the Panoz Motor Sport Group, the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), and the Women's Global GT Series, has been named 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.
Panoz is recognized for his many contributions and support of women in automotive and motorsports. St. James created the Women in the Winner’s Circle Leadership Award in honor of Paul Newman, a legend in entertainment, racing and philanthropy. In 2008 his Newman’s Own Foundation provided the initial funding that enabled St. James – former president of the Women’s Sports Foundation – to establish the Project Podium Scholarship for women in racing.
In 1999 Panoz founded the Women's Global GT Series, a road racing series open to professional female drivers piloting identically prepared 400-horsepower Panoz Esperante GT race cars. Far from a powder-puff derby, the Women's Global GT Series featured professional racers from around the world. The series merged with the Panoz GT Series, perhaps a victim of simply being ahead of its time.
St. James, then the executive director of the Women's Global GT Series, recalled initially balking at the idea. "I proposed to Don a mixed doubles concept, similar to tennis with one female and male driver on the team," she said. "But Don held his ground and felt a female-only series would not only provide more opportunities for women drivers, but be more popular with the fans."
"I'm very honored and humbled to receive this award," said Panoz. "My father taught me to work hard and never give up, and this has been my driving force. It's what has energized me to do things like start a motorsports program, multiple international racing series like ALMS and the Women's Global GT Series, and race the DeltaWing."
Panoz, a successful entrepreneur who ardently believes success lies in not following the status quo, continues to not see the world along gender lines. Since 2013 Katherine Legge has been a constant on the Claro/Tracfone DeltaWing Racing Cars team piloting the radically innovative and highly efficient DeltaWing Roadster before moving to the DeltaWing DWC-13 Coupe race car in 2013.
Legge remains the first and only woman to lead an ALMS race, doing so in the DeltaWing at Road America in 2013. Her tie to Panoz dates back to her days racing in the 2007-‘08 Champ Car World Series that featured Panoz DP01 Cosworth V8-powered open-wheel race cars.
The Claro/Tracfone DeltaWing Racing Cars DWC-13 Coupe competes in the IMSA-sanctioned 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and operates on the principle of greatly reduced overall mass. It is about half of the weight, has half the drag, needs roughly half the horsepower, and consumes half of the fuel of other race cars in its class, yet deliver the same performance. Panoz is bringing this technology to street-legal vehicles.
Past Women in the Winner’s Circle Leadership Award recipients include Dan Davis, former director of Ford Racing; Tom Binford, chief steward of the Indianapolis 500 from 1974 to 1995; Mike Helton, president of NASCAR; the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) for establishing the FIA Women & Motor Sport Commission; the National Hot Rod Association (NHRA) for its long history of supporting women in motorsports; and Lisa Noble, president of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA).