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Panteras Northwest - Birch Bay 2006

Posted by victory747 on May 16, 2010 at 3:06 PM

Monday, 11 December 2006


Panteras Northwest - Birch Bay 2006


(The following article will be submitted to POCA Profiles for publication)




Previously, on Panteras Northwest . . . We left you hanging at the end of our summer here in the beautiful Pacific Northwest on the honeymoon season of the newly formed Panteras Northwest.  Now, we don’t have the tropical vistas which Paradise Panteras, the other new POCA chapter, has to enjoy every time they take a drive.  On the other hand, Island hopping is rarely a challenge around here.


Ah, but I digress.


Our first year had almost come to a close after the Seattle Italian Concours, but the conclusion would be a doozy.  Normally, as you saw in Profiles 2005 No. 4, we typically close out the year with a drive on the Sunday after Labor Day weekend to Birch Bay State Park, near Blaine, WA and the Canadian border.


This has been the tradition since long before I ever imagined I would be a part of it.  As this was to be the 20th anniversary of this event, we thought we should make it something special.


At the 2005 Birch Bay picnic, the idea was hatched that we should celebrate the anniversary in 2006 by making a full weekend of it.  We could start with a Saturday drive up, an overnight at a local resort where we can have a dinner together and our wives could perhaps enjoy a little spa action, maybe a little golf, and plenty of bench racing in the bar.  Everyone there liked the idea, and so it was to be.  True, it was a year away, and we all know how time flies    . . . and fly it did.


Fast forward to summer, 2006, and amidst all the shows and trips to Vegas, we suddenly remembered we had an event to plan.  An email was sent out to the Panteras Northwest membership asking for ideas on where we could stay on Saturday, and what we might be able to do on Saturday.  Wes Stinson, from Burnaby, B.C. suggested that we find out who from the Seattle area would be interested in going to the Langley Cruise In, in Langley, B.C.  This is a show that a number of our Canadian members have attended regularly the day before they join us at Birch Bay.


The Langley Cruise In is one of he largest public car shows in North America, annually attracting close to 1,200 cars.  Most are staged around the downtown area angle-parked on both sides of the street.  In addition, there is a concours display in Douglas Park adjacent to downtown for about 120 more.  Wes happened to know the organizer of the event, and talked them into reserving 15 slots for the Panteras.  He told us that if we could find 6-8 Washington members, he knew there would be at least that many from B.C. in attendance, and we could give them a great showing. While this planning was going on, we were also looking for a place to stay on Saturday night.


After considering a few possibilities, Brenda Bonin, wife of Fred Bonin, one of the original Birch Bay attendees, found out about a brand new resort casino due to open in Ferndale, WA just two weeks before our event.  Better still, it was only about 15 minutes from Birch Bay.  Brenda made the initial contact with the Silver Reef casino staff, and we followed up to reserve a block of rooms and make plans for a dinner as their new steak house. After much planning and numerous emails to the Panteras Northwest membership, the weekend finally came off.


Jeff Kimball with Kimmie, in their black '72 twin turbo #2467, and Lyell & Pat Harris, in their pearl white '71 PB #1347, decided it was easier to take a leisurely drive up to the Silver Reef on Friday night so they wouldn't have to take a long drive in the wee hours on Saturday morning.  John Maffeo in his red '72 #2647 and nephew Jeffrey, and Elizabeth and I in our yellow '74 #6328, thought the morning drive would be just fine.  Right . . . Well, it was, up until we hit the wall of rain that started at south Everett and continued solid until just south of Bellingham.


Some of you may recall my request for an assist to figure out my wipers?  Well, they still didn't work, weren’t even on the car, but the Rain-X sure worked, and thank goodness!  There were some places were we could see maybe 100 feet in the downpour and that was without the spray from the trucks.


We made it to Bellingham, and hooked up with Jeff & Kimmie and Lyell & Pat, who were only a little damp around the edges, at the Slater Rd exit to the casino.  The drive to Langley was less than an hour from there to cross the border and get into down town Langley to find our way to Douglas Park. As Jeff, Lyell, John and I and our companions rolled into the park at about 9:30, we were surprised to see there was only one other Pantera there, but man, what a car!


Blaine Carmena, with his family in the support vehicle, had made the maiden voyage from Victoria, BC in Blaine's seven-year restoration project.  A cobalt blue '74 Grp IV clone #6214 with the most incredible engine we had every seen.  This was a 412 CI Windsor SVO aluminum block with Victor Jr. heads all pressurized to 10 psi by twin intercooled turbos driven from custom headers.  Blaine’s dad did all the body and paintwork, including full-steel flares, and did an incredible job.  You would never know that the car was actually two wrecks grafted together.  Not a seam in sight and everything dead-straight! According to Blaine, on the only dyno run he had done to date, at 4,400 RPM's, he was putting out 562 RWHP and 640 ft lbs, and had to shut down because it was crawling off the dyno!  Figuring he was just coming onto the cam and had about 2500 RPM's to go to redline, he is estimating close to 1,000 HP.  Silver State, here he comes!  While he freely admits he has a lot of fine-tuning to do, he is obviously proud of his creation, and rightfully so.


Not long after we arrived, the rest of the Canadian contingent started to roll in.  When all had assembled, we had 9 Panteras.  This group included of Herman Leong and his wife in Herman's white '82 factory GT5, Kevin McKenna and his son in his black '74, and a resident of Langley, Tom, whose last name I do not recall, in his white '74.


We all spent the day gazing at the amazing Concours display in Douglas Park, which included lots of American iron and some real Pebble Beach caliber entrants.  One in particular was a 1936 Horsch, which was one of the original four makes that comprised Auto Union, later to become Audi, and a ’36 Packard V-12 limousine.


Then there was the street display. . .  Oh, my God! The 1,200 cars was not an exaggeration, as parked along every street for a 4-5 square block area there was every make and model you could imagine.  They were mostly American, plus a few Japanese and European cars, and a wall-to-wall crowd to go with it.  This was a great event! A bit later in the day, Wes Stinson in his silver '74 GTS #7164 and Patrick Lee in his black '71 #2235 were able to dodge the threatening clouds and make their way into the park to join us.


Had Tom been able to stay, we would have had 10 Panteras - a great showing in any event.  One thing we learned is that so many people were asking questions, and had no idea what these cars were, that we need to have a sign board made for future shows explaining who and what we are.  That will be something to work on for next summer. At about 4:00 pm, we decided we had had enough hanging around gorgeous bodies, er, cars, and caravanned out of the park to head down to Ferndale for our night as the Silver Reef Casino.


The drive and border crossing made in the fleeting sun and on dry roads (what a relief) was uneventful, except for one thing.  Blaine finally figured out what that scraping noise was when his alternator belt let go just before we arrived in Ferndale.  He was able to save the carcass and find a suitable though temporary replacement in the morning. The Silver Reef Casino, built just off of Slater Rd and within sight of the San Juan Islands, is a very nice place for being out in the middle of nowhere.  We settled in, had a few drinks while Kimmie went off to rob the slot machines (for about $900), and then sat down to a wonderful dinner in the Steak House there at the casino.  We had 15 for dinner, including Fred and Brenda Bonin who had arrived earlier in the day, and were treated to royal service by the matre'd, Willem, and his staff.  As the place was only three weeks old, I had the feeling we were the first group of our size to dine there, and they did a tremendous job.  We will be coming back next year.  Two of our wives availed themselves of the spa and had a massage on Sunday morning.  Ahhhhhh!, to be pampered.


Next morning, Blaine still getting his belt repaired, John Maffeo & Jeffrey, Jeff & Kimmie, Carey Herberts in his black '72 #3126, Wes Stinson, and ET and I made our way down some beautiful sun-drenched back roads to Birch Bay State Park.  When we arrived at about 11:00, we were surprised to see only two Panteras there!  Doug Braun, in his Grabber Blue '73 #5505 with son Steven, and son Jeff in his Mustang, and Roydon Hughes in his blue pushbutton '71 #1295 had been there for a only a few minutes, but were already wondering if we had gotten lost.  It wasn't long, however, until the crowd started to roll in: Blaine arrived with Lyell & Pat Harris, the ever-present Bob Kelly in his red '72 #3922, and the rest.  Also coming up from Seattle were Richard and Caroline Openshaw and their daughter.  Arriving from Canada were Dave Hik in his Red '74 #7017, Patrick Lee, Fred & Brenda Bonin and their daughter, Dave Nunn, Steve and Trevor Meausette, who had also come by the Langley show to say hello, Thomas Hong, and Terry Stone and his dad, who decided to leave the Pantera at home and drive the white '89 Lamborghini Countach Silver Anniversary and gray Dodge Viper instead.  Tough choices we should all have. Those at the picnic were treated to grilled burgers, brats and all the trimmings courtesy of Fred and Brenda Bonin.  


With a total of 14 Panteras in place, we almost set a record, but missed by two.  It was a very good turnout, with an equal number of Panteras from the US and Canada, and though they were all beautiful cars, there was no question who the winner of the People’s Choice trophy was: Blaine Carmena and his cobalt blue "74 Grp IV monster won by a landslide. As all good things do, the day came to an end with a good drive home and many great memories to take with.


Many thanks were offered to all who helped bring the chapter to life and helped arrange such a great weekend, as well as a special nod to the Bonin’s for putting on the BBQ.  One final surprise found us as we merged on to I-5 southbound.  We entered right in the middle of a Plymouth Prowler club caravan of about 10 cars.  We followed them on the freeway for a while until they exited in Bellingham.


What a sight that must have been to the northbound crowd!


Categories: Past Blog Entries, Events