|Posted by Panteras Northwest on May 16, 2010 at 2:57 PM|
Monday, 11 December 2006
Panteras Northwest Comes to Life
(The following article will be submitted to POCA Profiles for publication)
They had been together for over 20 years. By anyone’s standard, that is far too long to wait to take that last step and make it official, to give the relationship that final stamp of recognition.
All their friends had seen it, had been with them on many occasions, enjoyed picnics, parties and Saturday-morning get-togethers to share stories and help each other out. They’d been there to share the successes, the occasional breakdowns, and to lend a hand to get things back on track.
And so it was, on a drizzly and dark evening in early January, when the indoor life of a typical Northwest winter lends one the time for more contemplative endeavors, that the final plans were hatched.
Mike rummaged through some papers on his desk, the ones long over due for filing or tossing, and found the number he was looking for. The voice on the other end of the line had the usual “I am so busy, but it’s still good to hear from you” tone that comes with familiarity and a sharing of interests. Mike, buoyed by the excitement of what he was about to propose, dived right in. “I’ve been thinking . . .”“Oh, boy, now I know we’re in trouble” the voice on the other end groaned.“Hold on a sec’, I think you’re going to like this”“Oh . . . .?”“I think we’ve been avoiding the obvious for too long, so let’s just do it. Whaddya say, let’s pull this thing together and make it happen. After all, everyone has been wondering for years when we were going to Heinekens and take the plunge.”“Do you mean it?!” the growing excitement almost palpable.“Yeah, I do. You’ve been holding this thing together since the start, so I figured you should be the first one I call. Let’s get the ball rolling and create a new POCA chapter up here. We owe to ourselves!” And so it was that Panteras NorthWest began to see the light of day. There has been a very active core of Pantera enthusiasts here in the Pacific Northwest for many years, and this was not the first attempt to get a POCA chapter off the ground in this area. But, as we all have lives that also include family, work and (gasp) other hobbies, we knew that whomever stood up to take this on would have to have the luxury of both time and energy to see it through. I have been fortunate to have a very supportive wife, a job that doesn’t require I put in 60-hour weeks (right now), and no kids in the house, so I thought I would put my Project Management experience to work on pulling this all together.
I dare not go any further in this tale without paying due respect to the guys who have been the core of the Pantera clan in the Pacific Northwest for 20+ years. Without the work they have done over the years to keep track of all the owners and bring them together each year for the Birch Bay Picnic, as well as occasional tech sessions, drives, etc., formation of this chapter would have been much more difficult. Special thanks to Doug Braun, Jeff Kimball, Fred Bonin, Dave Nunn, Gary Herrig and many others who have worked to keep this group together over the years.
I had actually stuck my foot in it at the 2005 Las Vegas Fun Rally when I mentioned to John Taphorn that I was interested in forming an official chapter in the Northwest. At the time, I mentioned that I hoped to have something pulled together by year-end. John was very excited and offered to help in any way he could. However, other projects had to be completed before I could spend any time on Chapter work. First of all, I had to get my own car back on the ground. When the year started to wane, and I realized that it was time to put up or shut up, things finally started to move. I contacted the presidents of the other POCA chapters with a list of questions about how their chapters were organized, what worked and what didn’t, and received some very helpful information. The next step was to contact POCA to find out what had to be included in the application to be considered for status as a POCA chapter. We already had one huge step out of the way as Doug Braun had for many years been maintaining a list of Pantera owners form Canada to Oregon and east to Spokane. This was the starting point to find out who was interested in becoming part of a POCA chapter. In January, an email went out to the 120 names on the list, and the response was very positive. Though the core of the chapter was to be in the Seattle area, responses came from all corners expressing interest.
Those who responded were compared to those on the list known to be POCA members, and the basis of our chapter was in hand. The hardest part of completing the application package was to gather the required signatures on a petition to create the chapter, which took about two months. It was at this point that we realized how enthusiastic the Pantera owners north of the border were: of the 46 signed petitions turned into POCA with the application, nearly one half were from Canada. Good show, folks! By-Laws, Articles of Incorporation, etc. were drafted and reviewed, and our first meeting was planned for March at Doug Braun’s home as a potluck dinner meeting. Nine potential members and their “associates” were there, and further chapter planning was discussed. The goal of the March and April meetings was to have the application package complete and approved in time for me to take it to Las Vegas to present to John Taphorn and the POCA board for review and approval. Oh yeah, I didn’t mention that while all this chapter formation stuff was under way, I was also thrashing to get #6328 ready to drive to ‘Vegas. The front suspension needed a complete rebuild, the new Aldan’s had to be installed and dialed in, and new rear brake lines bent and installed along with a new master cylinder. This and myriad maintenance stuff amounted to about a year’s worth of tinkering in three months for a novice like me. Thinking she was ready to go, just two weeks before I was to leave, the clutch died! Were is not for the help of Gary Herrig and Roydon Hughes, who helped me get the ZF our in 2 hrs out and back in in 3 with a flywheel resurface in between, I would have been done. What a great bunch this is! So, POCA application package in hand, Panteras Northwest set off as myself in #6328, and Lyell Harris and son Mike in Lyell’s ’71 pushbutton #1347 on Sunday, April 30. Our first night in Medford, Oregon was spent with Paul Rimov, his wife Cathy and son Connor, who graciously welcomed us into their home. Paul spent the evening bench racing with us and showing off his beautifully restored black & white ’73 Euro GTS, the centerfold car for 2002 POCA Profiles #2. When Lyell, Mike and I remarked at what a great place they had, with a 3 car, no-post, 15” ceiling garage, Paul remarked that “oh, this is just temporary digs while our dream house gets built.’
This should be quite a place. Seems I remember hearing something about a 5-car garage with a lift and . . .? Second day on the road, not a cloud in the sky, we head south into California and on to Morgan Hill where we plan to hook up the next morning with a group from PCNC. We left Morgan Hill and turned eat at Gilroy to cut across central California, meeting up with a few more folks along the way, and eventually working out way to Kernville by way of Evan Rd, #155. If ever there was a time when I wish I had a video camera stuck to my dash, this was it I was running #4 behind Roger Sharp, Jim Kuehne and one other, the rest close behind, in a 30-minute romp of second-gear hand-over-hand twisties through one of California’s state parks that had to be one of the best drives I have ever had. By the time we collected at the Kernville Inn, there were about 12 Panteras, and most spent the afternoon relaxing in the shade with a cold beer before dinner.
It’s a good thing we stopped when we did as my stock brake pads were fading like a pair of old jeans. We all joined up that evening across the street from the Kernville Inn for a great Italian dinner before retiring for the night. Day #4 was out of the Kern Valley and into the desert for the last leg to Vegas. What a long, dry stretch of road that is. We met up with Larry Finch and his wife, along with a few others, in Kramer Junction before we left for Barstow and the turn north on I-15 to ‘Vegas. The Orleans was a welcome sight after four days and 1,497 miles of driving, and a full four days were still ahead of us.
Amongst trips to the track, a disastrous dinner at the Hot Rod Café (they planned for 20, we brought 70), a tour of the Air Force Thunderbirds hanger at Nellis AFB and tinkering with the car, I was looking for POCA secretary Zack Lembo to present the application packet for our chapter. Finally, Saturday morning at the President’s breakfast, I was able to hand over the packet to the POCA board with assurances that the approval was as good as done once they had a chance to discuss it and take a vote. Unfortunately, that was not to be Vegas, but very soon thereafter. The rest of ‘Vegas was great with a spectacular car show on the top deck of the Orleans parking garage on Saturday afternoon, and the final banquet that night. Every seat was full for a great dinner and as the awards were handed out, yours truly took home the Iron Butt award for the longest drive in a Pantera on behalf of our new chapter.
The drive home was done a little more directly in three days with the first day ending at Larry Finch’s in Fresno. The Fresno Finch’s, though just back from ‘Vegas themselves, were great hosts, and Larry showed us around his garage where he has been busy refurbishing and selling Pantera Gp IV taillights and other stuff. Lyell, Mike and I had planned to drop in on the Rimov’s on the return leg at the end of day #2, another in a wonderfully long string of clear, sunny days, but were making such good time that we pressed on to Springfield, OR for the second night. This would make our third day only about 4 hours to home, and offer us a chance to unwind before we had to head back to work the next day. It was a long trip, 3,076 miles door-to-door for me, and #6328 did suffer a badly cracked exhaust pipe, but otherwise made the trip smoothly and represented the northwest well.
Now that we were back, it was time for Panteras Northwest to complete our summer event planning and await our “official” notice from POCA. As in all parts of the country, from about June on, there are an endless number of car shows nearly every weekend here in the northwest. There are a few large Ford events, and at these the Panteras have always made a good showing.
As June weather can still be a bit iffy, four cars brave enough to dodge a few raindrops attended our meeting at the All Ford Picnic on June 4. The rest of June saw chapter members attending a couple of other large shows in Seattle, but our first dedicated chapter event was a drive Sequim, WA to visit Jim Rosenburgh, also a chapter member, at his dyno and restoration shop. Jim has a beautifully restored orange ’72, #3379, which he had brought back to life on the rotisserie at his shop and to which he applied many personal touches to make it a truly outstanding ride.
You may recall mention of Jim on the Forum as going to Bonneville this last year to set a land speed record with his flamed and winged GMC motor home. Six members, John Maffeo, Sean Mundy, Lyell Harris, Gary Herrig, Roydon Hughes and Bob Kelly, with a few wives, made the beautiful drive up the Key Peninsula and across the Hood Canal Floating Bridge to the quaint little lavender capital of the world sitting the shadow of the Olympic Mts. Sequim gets only about 15 inches of rain a year, and is a very popular retirement locale for Californians seeking some peace and quiet.
Most of the guys took more than one turn, and a few did a simulated ¼-mile run on Jim’s double-roller dyno. Jim admitted that his machine was set slightly on the conservative side, so some of the horsepower and torque numbers were not as high as some hoped to see, but the real story of just how well each of the cars were running was very evident.
John Maffeo in his red ’72 Pre-L #2647 was first on the rollers and showed a respectable 210 RWHP, though John was hoping for better.
Roydon Hughes, in his blue ’71 pushbutton #1295 registered an estimated 315 at the flywheel. He also proceeded to smoke his clutch on a ¼-mile run but clocked 13.2 sec.
Lyell Harris in ’71 PB #1347 showed 215 RWHP, with his fairly fresh stock rebuild.
Sean, in his orange ’72 L #4723, seemed to have an ignition issue just north of 4,000 RPM’s, and only showed 175 RWHP.
Bob Kelly, in his beautiful red ’72 Pre-L #3922 showed 257 RWHP from his Windsor crate motor, and ran the ¼-mile at 12.5, which tied the mark for the day.
Gary Herrig’s red ’73 GT-5 conversion #5005 did well at 255.5 RWHP and 264.3 ft/lbs.
Jim Rosenburgh lashed up #3379 for the last test of the day, and tied Bob’s ¼-mile time of 12.5, yet showed only 212 RWH. “It’s all in the wrist (pin)” he was heard to say.
I didn’t have #6328 for the trip to Sequim as, being the novice mechanic that I am, was fooling around with my new timing light with an adjustment dial on the back and had proceeded, as I found later, to set my timing at 32 degrees BTDC instead of 16. No wonder it wouldn’t run worth a bean. Next time, next time . . .
The following weekend we had the chance to join Mustangs Northwest for one of the biggest Mustang events in the USA. Four days included track time at Pacific Raceway on Thursday, the Pony Trail drive on Friday, a judged concours event on Saturday, and a People’s Choice show on Sunday. Panteras Northwest was well represented in all but the concours. At least two of our members were at the track on Thursday, Roydon Hughes, Doug Braun in his Grabber blue ’73 #5505 and I did the Pony Trails drive and show on Friday, which included about 300 cars, mostly Mustangs, caravanning about 75 miles from Bellevue Community College south through some great back roads to Mud Mountain Dam State Park. The Sunday show was attended by at least four members, who all said their cars were very well received and answered lots of questions from show attendees.
Our best chapter meeting to date was the August gathering at Gary and Linda Herrig’s. The planets were truly in alignment that day as 11 Panteras, 1 ‘Goose and a ’36 Packard Convertible Sedan showed up for the BBQ/meeting. Everyone driving through Gary’s neighborhood was slowing down for a look. We were all having such a good time talking cars that we almost forgot we were there to have dinner and conduct a meeting. Hunger eventually tool over, and we all enjoyed grilled brats and chicken courtesy of Gary and Linda, and the usual surprises of a good potluck.
The summer continued to go very well with more shows and great representation from our chapter members. Six Panteras attended the Bowen Scarff Classic Ford and Mustang show, which is held every third Saturday in August. One Pantera there was owned by a gentleman none of us had met yet, but had heard plenty about. He had apparently become quite the collector only a few months earlier, and arrived at the show with five of his new toys. Besides the Pantera, a beautiful red ’72, he had Continuation Cobra #4031, a ’69 429 Boss Mustang, a ’70 Boss 302 and a ’66 Shelby GT 350. We should all be so lucky. He and his posse spent the day going from car to car keeping them dusted and answering questions. I was only two days out of knee surgery, so Elizabeth did her first drive in the Pantera to get us there. I was a little nervous at first, but she was an ace. She wasn’t sure she was all that thrilled to drive the car, but after a few miles I looked over and caught her diggin’ it. She got a hug from Terri Braun, Doug’s wife, when we got there. She was now an official Pantera wife.
Two weeks later, the Seattle Italian Concours closed the summer for our attendance at organized shows. The Italian Concours, held Sunday of Labor Day weekend, is a great gathering of everything Italian in motorcars and cycles. All the usual suspects were there. This year, the honored marque was Alfa Romeo, and the central display had one example from each of the eight decades Alfa has been building cars. The center piece, which I had the honor of following into the show, was Microsoft exec John Shirley’s 1936 Alfa 8C 2900, just back from Italy having run the Millie Miglia. Those who read Automobile magazine will remember the 8C 2900 as one of their “25 most beautiful cars”. We had seven Panteras at the show, including Rob Covey’s factory GT5. Gerald McGinness took top DeTomaso honors with his flawless white ’72 #4232, Ron Hyde of Portland, Ore, who has converted his black ’72 #2492 to hand controls, took second, and yours truly was very surprised to drive off with the bronze in #6328.
Well, that about does it for our first season. It was a lot of fun and there will be plenty to talk about all winter. We’re glad you hung there for the whole story. Wait, what’s that I hear? It’s not over yet? Oh, yeah, we still have our Annual Northwest Pantera Birch Bay Picnic and Peoples Choice Award. Now, this is to be a special anniversary event, and as I’ve kept you up late already, we’ll just have to say “to be continued . . .”. Look for that story in a future Profiles, and please visit us at www.panterasnorthwest.com