This is another car for which I wish I had time for a properly detailed post, because it is an astonishing machine. This is the 1998 Panoz Esperante GTR-1, one of the craziest American race cars ever devised.

This one ran Le Mans in 1998 under the Panoz Motorsport/DAMS banner and was driven by American Johnny O’Connell and Frenchmen Christophe Tinseau and Eric Bernard. Unfortunately it did not finish, being classified 26th as a DNF. Its teammate finished 7th, no small feat behind the factory Porsches, a McLaren F1 GTR, and three Nissan R390s. It’s as mid-engined as the others, it’s just ahead of the driver.

I was fortunate to see these run in the day when FIA GT ran at Laguna Seca (those were the days!), and bought this model there. Their thunder was unlike anything I’d ever heard outside of a Top Fuel dragster, before Corvette Racing came to define American noise. Quite a special thing, and as an 18 year old I worshipped it.

Did I mention I can’t wait for Le Mans?!? The final qualifying was very wet today, making for some interesting times, but we’ll see how the weather shakes out for the race. As Jason Statham said in Truth In 24, “It always rains at Le Mans.” So excited! French Friday at Le Mans tomorrow!!

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Unfortunately the Motorola decal on the rockers is flaking off, though it’s been in its box since new.

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OM NOM NOM NOM

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