The Pantera Place
"Your de Tomaso Connection"
Las Vegas POCA 2002 Fun Rally
By Mike Drew
April 23rd and 24th
Greetings from the Plaza Hotel in Las Vegas! The PCNC group had another fantastic day of play behind the wheel. Our departure was delayed somewhat, as Kurt Hall's Pantera developed a bit of incontinence of fluids, with green goo dribbing across the parking lot. After opening his all-original tool kit and using the factory jack (which had never before been touched!), all hose clamps were tightened, the reservoir topped off and we were on our way.
Shortly outside of Bishop, we turned east onto the most wonderful road you can imagine. The first portion is extremely irregular--whoops, dips, off-camber decreasing radius turns, steep hills, gravel, the works. In other words, an extremely challenging piece of pavement. At one point it goes through a narrow rock canyon and goes down to one lane only, around a blind curve!
After climbing over a 7,000 foot pass, the road suddenly opens up and turns into a replica of the Silver State route, although with a bit of undulation that will occasionally allow a car to fly a short distance if caution isn't taken. Whee!!!!! Chuck and I again found ourselves far outdistancing the pack, much to our dismay.
Then a black speck appeared in our mirrors which quickly became the fast-moving Pantera of Bob Benson, who'd had enough of the touring group and wanted to enjoy the car the way in the manner it was intended! I quickly waved him by, and he passed me in a spray of gravel (did I mention that portion of the road had just been paved?) We then followed at a respectful distance, and spent a considerable amount of time cruising at between 110 and 130 mph--probably 40-50 miles with an occasional section of twisties to keep things interesting. We got to the end of the road knowing the rest of the gang was way, WAY back there, so we took a brief repose in front of the Cottontail Ranch. Chuck joked that we were there long enough to have gone through twice! :>)
Once the group gathered up again, we headed south into Beatty for gas and lunch, then had an uneventful drive into Las Vegas, neatly missing any and all traffic, and eased smoothly into the hotel parking lot. There were already quite a few Panteras present, and more are arriving on a slow but steady basis. The club stores are going up, the crowd in the hospitality suite is growing, cars are already being primped in the ballroom, and of course the beer is cold!
So, what are the rest of you waiting for? See you here, hopefully sooner rather than later!
PCNC's drive to Las Vegas, day one (317kb)
PCNC's drive to Las Vegas, day two (247kb)
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April 25th, 26th and 27th
It's been super-busy out here as you might imagine, and my journalistic responsibilities to all of you have had to take a back seat to important socializing in the hospitality suite, not to mention an unusually high amount of wrenching.
Steve Liebenow pulled into town behind the wheel of his Mangusta, which is always wonderful to see. Mangustas have an accessory drive for the alternator and A/C compressor consisting of a jackshaft that runs through three bearings, from the front to the rear of the motor. Steve's car had two bearings and a maraca! So wrenching was in order.
My GT-350 had been making a banga banga noise from the rear end at low speed. We jacked it up and found that one of the rear caliper mounting bolts had fallen out and the other one was halfway out. DOH! Fortunately the bolt had fallen into the dust shield so it was a simple matter to reassemble it. Then we set to fixin' Steve's problem, and five hours later his car was back on the road. As Chuck mentioned earlier, the next day at the track, my GT-350 was braking somewhat erratically at the track on Friday; the cause was found to be semi-metallic brake pads which had become fully-metallic, with the backing plates touching the discs! Wow, I had brake pads last week? Guess a hard day at Laguna Seca coupled with our hard two-day drive out here did them in. I chased around town and found a replacement set, unfortunately they are distinctly low-performance.
My afternoon track sessions were characterized by a complete and total loss of brakes on each and every corner, which required me to slow the pace down. A little bit, anyway...:>)
Today we had a business breakfast where all the club presidents met with the officers of the POCA board; this unfortunately prevented me from seeing the Fremont street display. This was followed by a three-hour technical question-and-answer forum.
I was thrilled to see Cal in the parking lot standing next to his BEAUTIFUL Pantera, which is extremely well-done and tasteful. He should be extremely proud! Unfortunately his drive was interrupted by the disintegration of one of his rear wheels into multiple pieces, which has to be highly annoying. Fortunately there was no damage to the car as it happened at 60 mph; he had the car towed to the event because he was gonna make it, dammit! And you couldn't beat the smile off his face with a stick. While the wheel utilizes a Kirk Evans center, he went to GREAT lengths to inform people that he purchased the centers from Kirk, but had the wheels assembled by a local aerospace welder who was obviously not qualified for the work he had undertaken. We're now getting cleaned up and preparing for the big wrap-up dinner and POCA raffle, which will then lead to a monster party in the hospitality suite and a commensurate lack of sleep. So this will be the last update from here!