"Your de Tomaso Connection"
The 2002 Atlanta's 6th Annual Italian Car Day
Saturday, October 5th, 2002
By Mike Dailey
Photos By Mike, Pam and Jeff Dailey, Jim Hendrickson and Sam Bailey
The 2002 Atlanta Italian Car Day was held at the Buford Dam Park, on the eastside of the dam near the Corps Office entrance. Buford Dam Park is located north of Atlanta, Georgia on on the south tip of Lake Lanier. The nearest city is Buford, Georgia located east of the park. A few weeks before the show Dick Koch and I met with the show organizers at the venue to review all of the show area and to make sure that de Toamso group would have thirty parking spaces in the main venue parking. We worked out a parking solution and agreed on how the de Tomaso cars would be parked on the main show area. I knew that a lot of de Tomaso owners were driving many miles to make this show and everything needed to be perfect for them.
The show registration fee was only $15 per car and included one Italian style lunch. Extra lunches were available for $7.50. Spectators were welcome and no spectator fee was charged.
In this venue only registered car owners have voting privileges to vote for the best car in each class, e.g. each registered owner voted for one vehicle in every class. For example: A registered Maserati owner votes for one Maserati; but also all other marques; one Alfa, one Ferrari, one Lamborghini, one de Tomaso, one Lancia, one motorcycle, etc. Best of Show was selected by peers too and was the top honor. Very nice 4 color trophies were awarded again this year.
The selection of best car in each class by peer owners of all classes is an interesting concept compared the process of using concourse judges that are experts in their given marque. Concourse judging is focused on how original and perfect the car is compared to how it was when it left the factory, e.g. the car color, each and every nut and bolt, engine, wheels, tires and interior. When the peer voting is used the owners tend to vote for the car that most appealing to them in their own marque and in the other margues. For example: When I was voting for the best Lamborghini, I looked at all the Lamborghini cars and ended up voting for the only Muria at the show. To me the Muria is a classic Lamborghini and this car represented the best in the Lamborghini marque of all the cars at the show. The peer voting creates some interesting results, but is probably a good way to select the best cars of each marque for this type of show. The Muria was selected as the best in the Lamborghini class, indicating that a lot of other owners had the same thoughts that I did.
We had over 125 total cars in attendance, including twenty-eight de Tomaso Panteras and one Longchamp GTS for a total of twenty-nine de Tomaso cars. This number breaks all records for the total number of de Tomaso cars at a southeast car show by one car and is a tie for the 2001 Orlando show for Panteras. The attendance of the Florida Pantera group had the biggest single impact on our total Pantera count. Thank you, Florida owners and the other out-of-state owners for making the long journey to Atlanta!
October 3, 2002 - The South East Pantera Club Trip To Atlanta
The Florida South East Pantera (SEP) group started the planning for the Atlanta trip in September when Fred and Cindy Zesewitz became aware of the ICD on the website. Shortly after Fred proposed that the SEP make the trip they had 13 members signed up for the road trip. Cindy and Fred did an outstanding job of organization and planning of this event, including arranging for hotel and dining accommodations, providing handouts, including maps and event dash plaques. Fred also served as lead car in the caravan to keep everyone together.
Cindy and Fred Zesewitz
On October 3, 2002, the southern most SEP attendees began their journey to Ocala Fl, for the first nightís stop. Everyone stayed at the La Quinta Inn and Suites including: Lou Agro, Pompano Beach; Gwen Foster and Chris Cox, Tampa; Bonnie and John Dent, Ft. Myers; Nina and Roger Gossett, Jupiter; Sandi and Dave Pratt, Melbourne; Fran and Al Rubin, Ft Myers; Jeff Vozeh, North Port; and Cindy and Fred Zesewitz, Kissimmee. Turns out the Manager of the hotel was a Pantera owner many years ago!
The next morning the group departed to meet the SEP President, Dave Clark from Jacksonville, FL and his wife Lianne at the Georgia Welcoming Center. The Clarks joined the caravan and they continued north on I75. The plan was to possibly meet up with the Morris and Coffel families that were trailing their Panteras to Atlanta on I75. Somehow the Morris and Coffel group got in front of the group and spent the rest of the day trying to catch up, only to discover that they were the first group at the hotel in Atlanta.
It sounds like it was a great trip with some really outstanding Panteras.
October 4, 2002 7:00 PM - The Hotel
The Pantera team from Florida was on the road for two days and made it all the way to the Holiday Inn Select without rain. The group made the incredible trip all the way to Atlanta and had only one very, very minor problem with one of the cars that was a non issue.
As soon as they parked a thunder shower hit. The Florida group has some incredibly awesome Panteras. Allen Morris from south Georgia and Mike Coffel from Alabama trailed their cars and were parked around in the back of the hotel. I don't think I've never seen so many GT5s and GT5-S in one place before.
We had a no host reception at the hotel and then we took over the hotel restaurant for dinner. In the foreground, facing the camera, Dave Clark from Florida talks with other owners. A number of Atlanta owners and other out-of-state owners stopped by the hotel to greet and meet the Florida team. It was really great to meet and get to know all of the Florida group and the other out-of-state owners.
October 5, 2002 8:00 AM - Caravan to Venue
Team Pantera met at the Donut Derelicts location and departed to venue in a de Tomaso caravan. It was a little eerie to hear and see all of the Panteras arriving in the morning darkness. Nineteen Panteras arrived at Donut Derelicts to form up for the caravan. Before we left, we all made sure that every car had a map to the show.
The view of the ADD parking lot with nineteen Panteras parked from one end to the other.
Jeff Udelson and his son from Atlanta, look at all the cars with amazement! The nineteen Panteras parked around the lot was an spectacular sight.
At 8:00 AM sharp all nineteen Panteras started their engines to form up for the caravan. I've never had an opportunity to hear nineteen Panteras all running at the same time and the sound was incredible. Especially, at 8:00 AM on a quiet Saturday morning in Atlanta. Jerry Pentaleri agreed to be the the last car in the caravan to make sure we did not lose anyone and we exchanged cell phone numbers for communications during the forty-five minute caravan to the park. As we pulled out of the parking lot the owner of the Donut Shop, without our request, ran out into the street and stopped all traffic while the string on Panteras thundered down the street.
The drive to the park was uneventful, other than a lot of people that were stopped in their tracks at the spectacle of the string of nineteen Panteras zooming up Peachtree Industrial Boulevard. We ran the caravan slowly so that all of the cars could stay together in one long string of beauty and sound.
The caravan of the Panteras was absolutely awesome experience and I highly recommend them if you get the chance! As we were driving a long I was thinking about the time Dan Jones and I got together in 1999 with our two Panteras for lunch and we were really impressed to see two Panteras together. But this gathering was unbelievable!
October 5, 2002 9:00 AM - The Venue
When the caravan arrived at the venue the first stop was to pay the $15 registration fee for each car and pick up all of our registration information. Each car was tagged with a small window sticker serial number that matched the registration number on the large 8 X11 registration card that would be displayed on the car's dash. The next stop was a photo shoot of each car at the entrance of the main parking area. I got a little frustrated at this point because I knew I had eighteen snarling Panteras lined up behind my car with some pretty radical engines that would not be happy idling during the photo shoot delay.
As I drove over to our reserved parking area, I discovered that there was a mix up with the de Tomaso parking and two Maserati Bi- turbos were in our parking row. We quickly got the problem solved and started the Pantera parking process. The first row was reserved for twenty-two Panteras and we helped each car get backed into the parking space at an angle toward the entrance of the park. The cars were parked so they had wide parking lot spacing in-between each car to provided antiquate room to open doors and spectators to walk between the cars . It sure was fun getting all the cars parked and the sound of cars backing in was great.
The Venue Parking
The view of the main parking area with the Panteras on the left side in two rows.
The row on the left contains twenty-two Panteras and the row on the right contains six Panteras and the Longchamp GTS. It was a spectacular sight! Danny Catt from Cumming, Georgia red 1984 (one owner) GT5 is in the first car in the right row. David Lees' blue car is behind Danny's car and then Gabe Pascarella's dark red car.
One the left, Mark Dention and his wife Bonnie arrive from Knoxville, Tennessee in their 1972 GTS and are the twenty-eighth Pantera to join the show. On the right, I do the look under the Pantera wing dance, trying to get Mark parked. The silver Pantera in the right image belongs to Dan Hough of Acworth, Georgia. Dan's car is a ebay car from the Northwest and is outstanding.
The view from the back of the venue looking toward the front. My car is the first in the row, on the right, Dick Koch's car is next and then Jerry Pentaleri's car. Andy Smith, seen strolling by the cars, traveled all the way from Ireland to attend the show. Andy keeps his Pantera stored in Atlanta.
During the morning hours the weather was partly cloudy, hot with very high humidity and no rain. We had one brief rain shower that lasted about three minutes in the afternoon and then the sky cleared completely and it got very hot and sunny.
The weather was a big concern for most owners and impacted the total attendance numbers, down 10 cars from last year's 136 total. We were expecting to come close to the 200 mark this year but I'm sure many owners stayed home. This was not the case with the de Tomaso owners! Last year we had 9 cars and this year was a very big increase, thanks mostly to the Florida Pantera team.
Marque Quantity Alfa Romeo 37 de Tomaso 29 Ferrari 26 Fiat 14 Lamborghini 9 Lancia 2 Maserati 7 Italian Cycle 2 Total 126
The Panteras and Longchamp
The most fun thing about an event is seeing all of the beautiful cars, meeting the owners and the exchange of ideas. This is especially true in the de Tomaso community because there are so few cars in any one city in the southeast. Having an opportunity to see all of the outstanding de Tomaso cars and learn about all of the neat things that owners do with their cars makes the show really worthwhile.
The image on the left, Bill Grable takes some video, center - the line up and right - Jeff Vozeh's car.
The image on the left, Allen Morris' push button car and the three images on the right are of Mike Coffel's push button.
The image on the left is Jerry Pentaleri's 396 CI W engine, next - Dick Koch's 700 HP twin turbo, next - Dave Pratt's car, next - Bill Grable's 351C and next Louis Agro's engin.
The two images on the left, Andre Perry's GT5, next is Andy Schott's car and then James Fannin's red car.
On the left - Lee Lantz's Longchamp GTS and on the right James Fannin's red car, Gabe Pascarella dark red car, David Lees' blue car and Danny Catt's GT5.
The image on the left, Andy Park's car, John Dentís car, Jeff Vozeh's car, next - Andy Smith's car and Roger Gossett's white GT5-S, next - Louis Agro's Hall GT5-S, next - Dave Pratt's car, Bill Grable's car and Jeff Udelson's car.
The image on the left, Bruce Nardoci's car and Mike Coffel's car and on the right Fred Zesewitz's car.
The image on the left, Fred Zesewitz's car and Chris Cox's car, next - Dave Clark's car and Jerry Pentaleri's car, next - Jerry Pentaleri looks over his car, next - Dick Koch's twin turbo and Mike Dailey's car.
View of Jerry Pentaleri's enclosed headlights.
On the left - Barry Harward, Ralph Boineau and Sam Bailey, Center - Roger Gossett and Jeff Vozeh, Right - Alan Rubin chats with Dave Pratt.
de Tomaso Cars and Owners
Pompano Beach, FL
Pantera Hall GT5-S
Pantera (push button)
Cape Coral, FL
Oak Ridge, TN
Pantera (push button)
Fort Mill, SC
Stone Mountain, GA
Ft. Myers, FL
North Port, FL
The Missing 29th Pantera
Don Head of Lawrenceville, Georgia spent the last two weeks working night and day to finish the "complete ground up" restoration of his 1972 Euro Pantera in time for the ICD . Don worked until 3:00 AM Saturday morning trying to complete the car but ran out of time. After getting some sleep, Don and his wife made it to the show late in the day, but without the Pantera.
Congratulations to Don for getting the Pantera back on the road and for all his extra work trying to make it to the show in the Pantera.
Dick Koch organized a package for each de Tomaso owner that contained brochures and catalogs contributed from all the major Pantera vendors. Also, Road Atlanta and the Panoz Racing School sent information on their respective programs. Road Atlanta sent a VIP voucher that gave a $20.00 discount on the Petit LeMans race to be held at Road Atlanta this Saturday, October 12.
Claudia Lodi of De Tomaso Modena http://www.detomaso.it sent a press package that contained the history of the cars of De Tomaso. Each Pantera show participant received a copy of this unique "biography".
The vendors that contributed information on their products and services were:
- Hall Pantera
- Pantera East
- Pantera Parts Connection
- Pantera Performance Center
- Pantera International
- PI Motorsports
- Precision Pro-Performance
The information package created by Dick Koch
Additionally and a special thank you to Pantera Parts Connection, Pantera International, and Dick Koch who each donated several gifts that were given away at the Pantera raffle.
PPC donated baseball caps that were well appreciated by the many winners.
Pantera International sent several copies of a fantastic book titled "Mid-Engined Exotic Cars" by Nathan F. Stevens. PI also gave away two annual memberships to Pantera International, one of them won by young Dan Hough, the newest Pantera owner in the crowd.
Dick Koch donated an "Executive Pen Light", suitable for evaluating every nuance of the Panteras in the show. Also the Weather Radio donated by Dick was particular useful given the "sensitivity" of many of the P-car owners to water!
The de Tomaso gifts
All in all, a great time made that much better though the contributions of the many folks that the Pantera community rely upon to maintain and improve their Panteras.
The Other Italian Marques
The parking area was divided into areas for each marque. The Panteras and Lamborghinis had the two rows on the left and the Fiats, Alfa Romeos, Lancias and Maseratis had the center rows. The Ferraris had the two rows on the far right. There was another lot below the main lot for the Fiats and overflow
The center rows. On the right side of the image - The red Lamborghini P400 Muria belonging to Kirk Stevenson was voted best Lamborghini
The Ferrari row with a couple of Lamborghinis mixed in.
On the left, Jeff Udelson and Bill Grable discuss the Lamborghini Murcielago while my grandson Jim, poses with the Lambo. He is going to be an Italian car guy! Of all his exotic Italian car models, his Hot Wheels Pantera is the favorite.
A Lamborghini Contach maneuvers into a parking place.
A race prepared Lamborghini Diablo owned by Robert Ball (best modified class) made a spectacular entrance with the V12 screaming and the sound echoing around the park.
A stock Lamborghini Diablo arrived and parked near the Panteras. The Diablo at idle had a smooth powerful sound with the idle speed characteristically, changing slowly up and down in RPM.
Kim Watkins' Ferrari 275GTB was voted best Ferrari
Kirk Stevenson's Lamborghini P400 Muria was voted best Lamborghini
People's Choice Class Winners
Year Owner Best Of Show 275GTB (red) John Apen Alfa Romeo Alfa Jr. Zagato 1600 1972 Carol Wagnon de Tomaso Pantera 1971 Mike Dailey Ferrari 275GTB (Yellow) Kim Watkins Fiat 1500 1965 Bob Stanek Lamborghini P400 Muria Kirk Stevenson Lancia Zagato 1981 Ernie Abbot Maserati Ghibli Spyder 1971 Ivan Ruiz Italian Cycle Ducati Monster Jim Conley Best Modified Vehicle Lamborghini Diablo 1994 Robert Ball
For more info on the show stop by the new ICD website at http://www.italiancarday.com
What a great time! See you all next year!