The Panoz LMP1 Roadster-S Bucked Tradition And Looked Good Doing It

Screenshot: HistoricRacingHD on YouTube

I’m sorry, this is America. We don’t do mid-engine race cars. Shove a big V8 up front and point that long nose where you want it to go, then jam on the loud pedal and you’re bound to win. Straight out of the heart of Georgia, up jump the Panoz LMP1 Roadster-S. She may not be the winningest motor car this side of the Mississip’, but she’ll make you tear up with happiness at the sound of her.

With 6-liter Ford power up front routing power through an X-Trac sequential, the powertrain was relatively mundane, but it roared like a demon and went like stink. Because the Panoz Esperante-ish GT1 race car of 1998 was effectively excluded from competition at the end of the GT1 era, Panoz needed a car to compete. While retaining many of the Esperante GTR-1's styling cues, the new LMP was a fresh chassis developed by Reynard to compete with the Audi and BMW prototypes in the (freshly minted at the time by Panoz boss Dr. Don Panoz) American Le Mans Series.

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The Panoz won a couple of races, and the ALMS championship by 2 points over BMW in 1999. The car continued to middling success in following years as Audi continued developing the R8 with a larger budget and a larger R&D team. The car continued racing with moderate updates through the 2002 season, before it was retired altogether in 2003.

While it didn’t have the might or money to take down the big German LMP1s, the fact that it won even a handful of races was proof of concept for the big front engine beast. I personally enjoy when someone thinks outside of the box, especially when it works. I still lament that Nissan didn’t stick with the GT-R LM NISMO concept, because I think with another year of development it could have been seriously competitive. A damn shame, that.

Anyway, enjoy the Panoz.

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About the author

Bradley Brownell

Jalopnik contributor with a love for everything sketchy and eclectic.