The Pantera Place
"Your de Tomaso Connection"
Ideas on Automotive Caravanning
By Mike Dailey
A single line of nineteen beautiful Panteras thundering along Peachtree Industrial making their way to the largest gathering of exotic Italian cars in Southeast is an awesome sight and sound experience. Our de Tomaso group has been caravanning our Panteras to the Atlanta Italian Car Day (ICD) for the last few years and the experience really adds to the fun of the ICD show.
We use the Atlanta Donut Derelicts (ADD) site for our meeting location for the starting point for the caravan. The Donut Derelicts site is in the Northeast area of Atlanta making it a good location for many of the Atlanta owners to meet including the out of town folks staying at the nearby hotel and is about thirty miles from the ICD show venue. The ADD meeting place gives everyone an opportunity to have coffee and donuts before we get underway.
Each caravan participant needs to have a map showing the route to the venue and driving instructions. If someone manages to get separated from the caravan you do not want them to get lost. I like to use Microsoft Streets Plus to make maps rather than online services like Mapquest because Streets Plus can create a more detailed map. I make two maps. One is a big picture that shows the complete route and then a more detailed map that shows the more complicated route area around the venue. I use the driving instructions provided by ICD.
The overview map is on the left and the detailed map is on the right. After the maps are printed the route can be marked with a light colored felt tip pen.
Picking The Route
For our trip to ICD we use Peachtree Industrial because it is the most direct route. It has four lanes most of the way but has a lot of stop lights and the last part of the route is two lanes with few stop lights. Make sure that route you pick isnít undergoing a road construction project. If this is going to be a lengthy trip, it is a good idea to plan rest stops along the way and mark them on the maps.
Lead and Tail Car
One car should be the lead car and set the pace and one car must be the tail car to keep the caravan together. We use Family Service Radios (FSR) for communications and cell phones for backup. They can be found at most automotive parts stores. I find that the FSR radios do not work well on long caravans.
All of the caravan participants need to know that the caravan will leave on time and be ready to depart on time. Plan the time needed to travel to the venue allowing extra time for the caravan travel because of the slower pace of the caravan. Depending on the size of the group itís a good idea to have a driver meeting before departing to hand out the maps and driving instructions and the caravan plan. For smaller groups I find that I can cover the group one person at a time. One of the key caravan elements is that everyone keeps their place in the line of cars. Each car needs to keep a safe distance from the other cars but not so much space that other non caravan cars get mixed up with the caravan.
When we depart from the donut shop we use the center left turn lane to get the cars lined up. Getting the caravan string together requires the lead car to go slow so that all the cars can stay in line.
The lead car should stay in the far right lane and keep the speed well below the speed limit. The leader should keep in contact with the tail car by radio or cell phone to make sure no cars are left behind at stop lights. Once the string of cars is together as a group, the lead car can pick up the pace but stay a few MPH below the speed limit to keep the string together.
Traffic lights and left turn lights take a little extra work to keep the group together. The lead driver needs to monitor the stop lights way out ahead of the group. If the light that the group is approaching has been green for a long time it is a good idea to slow the group down to miss the light and stop. If the light just turned green the the lead car should pick up the pace so the complete string of cars can make it through the light. If the group gets separated at a stop light the lead car should slow down and lead the group to a safe pull over area if the back group cannot catch up. Two lane roads take some extra monitoring because if the group gets separated there is no way for the back group to catch up. There is nothing wrong with pulling over to a safe area and waiting for the back group to catch up.
If your caravan is headed for a car show it is a good idea to let the show organizer know in advance that you will be arriving in a group, the number of cars and your arrival time. You want them to be ready to process the cars into the show venue. I've been told that the thundering mass of Panteras can be heard at the venue well in advance of our arrival!
We like to park the caravan together at car shows so we arrive early and I make arrangements in advance for group parking.