Saturday, August 29, 2009

The DeTomaso Pantera

Friday, August 28, 2009

Tale of Tim Horton's Last Ride

If you were born after 1970, the name "Tim Horton" probably makes you think only of doughnuts, "Timbits" and coffee. For those of us who are little bit older, and especially if we loved hockey, we can't hear the name "Tim Horton" without thinking of the great defencemen who led the Toronto Maple Leafs during their glory years in the 1960s to four Stanley Cups.

For those of us with an interest in cars, Horton will always be associated with the exotic De Tomaso Pantera, the car he was driving when he was killed on Feb. 21, 1974. This is the story of Tim Horton's last ride, and the car he was driving.

By 1973, Tim Horton was in the twilight of his hockey career. After winning the Stanley Cup in 1967 the Maple Leafs went into a steady decline due to trades and retirements. After finishing dead last in 1970 the Leafs traded Horton to the New York Rangers. Tim spent one year in the Big Apple before being taken the next year by the Pittsburgh Penguins in their expansion draft. In yet another expansion draft the following year Horton was chosen by the Buffalo Sabres.

Horton, at 43 years of age, was already the second-oldest player in the league (goaltender Gump Worsley was a few months older) and with the growing success of his doughnut shop chain -- it was started in Hamilton in 1964 and was already up to 30 stores -- he was ready to hang up his skates and focus more on business.

It was Buffalo's general manager, Punch Imlach, who convinced Horton to stay on one more year in Buffalo. Imlach had coached Horton and the Leafs during their glory days of the mid-1960s. His new team had plenty of promise, with young players like Gilbert Perrault, Richard Martin and Rene Robert but needed the leadership and maturity of a veteran like Horton.

What cinched the deal to keep Horton on the ice was an unusual signing bonus: Imlach agreed to give him a 1973 De Tomaso Pantera sports car as part of his one-year contract.

Horton's last game was played in Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens on Feb. 20, 1974. Though the Sabres lost, and Horton was almost certainly playing with a broken jaw, the result of a deflected slapshot during the previous day's practice, he was still named the game's third star.

While all the other players drove back to Buffalo on the team bus, Horton had special dispensation from Imlach to drive the Pantera alone. Horton knew the route well and often stopped to visit franchises along the way. He had an early morning X-ray appointment for his jaw in Buffalo, that, given the amount of pain he was in, he probably didn't want to miss.

In the early morning hours of Feb. 21 a report came over the Ontario Provincial Police radio of a sports car moving at high speed through the Burlington area along the Queen Elizabeth Way. Another constable, near Vineland, saw a car jet past him, tried to follow but couldn't keep up. He estimated the car was going at least 160 km/h.

Finally, at around 4:30 a.m., news of a terrible accident near Stoney Creek filled the airwaves. While the QEW is a multi-lane expressway, there was a "traffic circle" exit -- a concrete wall that the road goes around -- that Horton and his Pantera failed to make. The Pantera hit an elevated sewer grate and flipped several times, throwing Horton from the vehicle. His body was found almost 60 metres from the crumpled wreck of his beloved Pantera.

No one really knows all the contributing factors that led to Horton's death. There's little doubt that he was taking pain killers for his jaw. And the treacherousness of the interchange where he died was remedied several years later when the traffic circle was removed.

As for the De Tomaso Pantera Horton was driving, though the cars had teething problems not uncommon in new models, there has never been a suggestion that mechanical failure in any way contributed to his death.

Shortly after Horton's death, his wife, Lori, sold the family's interest in the budding restaurant chain to Horton's business partner, Ron Joyce, for $1 million making Joyce the sole owner. Lori tried to overturn the sale in the 1990s but was unsuccessful at trial and in the Court of Appeal.

Joyce, in addition to growing the business into the giant it is today, was careful to ensure that Horton's legacy would live on. In 1974 he established the Tim Horton Children's Foundation in honour of Horton's love for children and his desire to help those less fortunate. This year it has raised more than $7.4 for children's camps and tsunami relief. Tim would be proud.

By The Vancouver Sun September 30, 2005

Lots of show and shine to see at Valley Street Rods event

Sonja Drinkwater, Alberni Valley Pennyworth
Published: Thursday, August 13, 2009

The shine was on over 160 vehicles at Chances Rim Rock last Friday. Once again, the Valley Street Rods presented an outstanding Show n' Shine on Thunder in the Valley weekend.

Along with the looking, a number of winners in various categories were chosen. The Rim Rock Ride went to Blaine Carmena of Victoria for his 1973 De Tomaso, while Bruce Tateham of Port Alberni took home the Participants Choice trophy for his 1941 Willys. A former Valley resident, Pete Wilson, who now lives in Victoria, won the Valley Street Rod Choice category with his 1970 Dodge Charger. Bill Gould of Vancouver, another former Port Alberni resident, left town with the Stock 1960's trophy for his 1966 Chevelle and Emile Nobert kept the Stock 1950's award in town with his 1957 Thunderbird.

Other Choice award winners included Peter Siomkiw of Parksville taking Choice Import with his 1972 Datsun 240Z; Dave Foudewyn of Victoria won the Choice Late Iron trophy with his 1971 GTO, and Choice Bike went to Gary Miller of Shawnigan Lake for his 2008 U-built Chopper, the same motorcycle that won him the 2008 Canadian Biker build off championship.

Under the watchful eye of his granddaughter, Dakota Rayner, Mayor Ken McRae presents Daniel Cyr with the "Mayor's Choice" trophy for his 1956 Chev Belair hard top.View Larger Image View Larger Image
Under the watchful eye of his granddaughter, Dakota Rayner, Mayor Ken McRae presents Daniel Cyr with the "Mayor's Choice" trophy for his 1956 Chev Belair hard top.

Some of the Modified winners were: Les Woodward of Burnaby for his 1939 Chrysler in the 1935-49 category; Modified 1950's went to Joe Fort of Nanaimo for his 1956 Chev and Port Alberni's Trevor Higgins won the Modified 1960's with his 1969 Dodge Dart.

The MS Society Central Island Chapter, which serves Port Alberni, was back at the Show n' Shine with their "pedal car" raffle. This year, the choices were a tow truck, which was won by Jessica White and a limited edition fire truck that went to Joe Stemler of Parksville.

"We raised approximately $3,000 and the money will be going to the swim, gym and yoga program in Port Alberni," Yvonne Hedley, the chapter's administrator/fundraiser remarked. "Anyone wanting more information on what the MS Society offers can go to our website: pr call 1-888-844-2047."

The event organizer, Valley Street Rods, can be contacted at:

Thursday, August 27, 2009

It's in the Genes!!

My dad, Mike Carmena of Carmena Collision in Baton Rouge Louisiana, was interviewed for "Pinks - Outtakes" on Speed with his Sunbeam Tiger. Check it out!!


Saturday, August 22, 2009

Email from Writer Brendan McAleer

Email from Brendan McAleer, the freelance writer and automotive enthusiast that wrote the article about the Blethering Place Classic Car Festival.

I had to email Brendan and thank him for calling my husband a lunatic. I thought it was hilarious and here is his response:

I did mean lunatic in a good way. All us car guys are lunatics, one way or another.
You can tell your husband that I was very impressed/terrified with his build, and a friend of mine saw it running at thunder in the valley. A little more traction, and you'll be into the mid-11s no problem.
Thanks for reading!

On Fri, Aug 21, 2009 at 9:39 PM, Janis
Carmena wrote:

Thanks so much for the article about the Oak Bay Car Show. I laughed
so hard when you called my husband a “total lunatic.” I had to add
your article to his blog about his Pantera. Here is a link to
it……again thank you. I have to agree…I kinda think he is a lunatic
also but it is his passion.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Families Come Together Around Classics

Today my Google Alert, set for DeTomaso Pantera, alerted me about this article about the Blethering Place Classic Car Festival. Upon reading it I noted the sentence referring to a "total lunatic" and knew immediately that the author must have been referring to my husband.....not sure whether my hubby should take offence with being called a "total lunatic" or whether he should take it as a compliment....what do you think?

Brendan McAleer, North Shore News
Published: Friday, August 21, 2009

Summer is on the wane, and September looms in the distant horizon with its promise of pencils, books and teachers' dirty looks.

Listen kids, I've got a few friends who are teachers and trust me, they aren't that happy about it either.

Still, there are more than a few long, sunny days left to get out and enjoy the sunshine and, for gearheads, that means a few more days before the classic goes back under the tarp in the garage. Unless, of course, the classic isn't running right now, and probably never will, no matter how much time you've spent on EBay with an imaginary budget.

Whether they are buffed to a sparkling sheen or starting to fall apart - like this late 1950s Fiat - every car at the classic show is a labour of love and comes with a story to tell.View Larger Image View Larger Image
Whether they are buffed to a sparkling sheen or starting to fall apart - like this late 1950s Fiat - every car at the classic show is a labour of love and comes with a story to tell.

Not to worry, because summertime is car show season, and it's time to get out there and enjoy the fruits of other people's labour. I recently attended a good one out in Victoria, which had pretty much everything you'd hope to see and more than a few surprises.

Sure, there was the Elvis impersonator and the Shriners, the hotdog vendors and the raffle tickets being sold to win a year-old Prius (Honestly?), but what everybody was really there to see was the cars. Attracting a lot of attention were the usual suspects: 1970s Dodge Chargers and Challengers, Model Ts, hopped-up classic Mustangs and chromed-out hot rods.

For me though, the standouts were easy to spot. There was a semi-decrepit late '50s Fiat, which had never been washed, let alone restored. It looked like one of those old Sicilian women you occasionally see in the vintage National Geographic magazines your dentist keeps in his waiting room: black-clad, wizened and shoe-leather tough.

There was an early '60s Cadillac El Dorado that was so long it had to be parked over four blocks and took a good thirty minutes to walk around. Some bright bulb had parked it next to the Elvis impersonator, and I'd have to say The King was thoroughly checkmated by the chrome leviathan.

Trois Citro?n 2CVs were at the far end of the street, next to a Ferrari Dino (technically just a Dino GT), a rare turbocharged Cord speedster sat across from a creamsicle-orange Corolla station wagon, and some total lunatic had built a twin-turbo V-8 DeTomaso Pantera, which is a bit like putting hot sauce on a Guatemalan Insanity Pepper.

All the people showing their cars were happy to chat, from the guy with the home-built Merlin Speedster to the owner of a Lotus racecar that was so low it could pass other cars by going under them. There were tales of weekends spent sanding and hours lost combing junkyards for the right part. There were stories of stumbling on near-complete cars in forgotten barns and of brake calipers seized beyond the help of even a plasma-cutting torch. Wisely, I opted not to talk to the pale, trembling owner of a pristine Jaguar V-12 E-Type with original Lucas components -- he was clearly suffering from some form of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Then, after the show was done, after we'd all got a bit too much sun and were perhaps regretting that last hot dog, after somebody had "won" that Prius, it was time to go home. The best part: I didn't even drive to the event, just cycled over to take a peek, so I skipped the crowds heading home.But maybe that wasn't the best part of it. Maybe the best part was the fathers and sons, grandfathers and granddaughters, aunts and nephews, uncles and nieces, even husbands and wives (yep, I dragged mine along) all out looking at cars that are neither efficient, nor practical, nor particularly reliable. But every car there had a story and a personality and was a labour of love for someone to build or restore or just keep in barely running order.

It didn't matter that the younger generation there couldn't imagine whole fleets of those Cadillacs cruising the highways like dreadnoughts, and were probably going to see big, simple V-8s and V-12s die out completely in their lifetimes. It didn't matter that most of the people there were driving minivans and compact cars and practical four-door sedans.

They were all there because they understood that cars are more than just cars sometimes. They can be art. They can be desire. They can be soul.

I'd encourage you to get out to see a car show this summer. Most of them support local charities, and there's always more than just cars to look at. If you miss the summer ones, there's always the Langley Good Times Cruise-In on Sept. 12. It's one of the largest shows in Western Canada, and you'll see vehicles there you never knew existed.

Take your kids too. With modern cars becoming more and more similar due to aerodynamics and crash ratings, we may all soon be driving around in appliances that have no more personality than a dishwasher. Show them what cars used to be like.

Mind you, maybe we'll always have classic car shows. We might run out of oil. We'll never run out of barns and tarps.

Brendan McAleer is a freelance writer and automotive enthusiast. If you have a suggestion for a column, or would be interested in having your car club featured, please contact him at

© North Shore News 2009

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Dyno Results

On July 10, 2009, my 1974 DeTomaso Pantera, "The Beast" went on the dyno at Zensport. It was a great run and I can't wait until the car is actually tuned. These results are "untuned."

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Blethering Place Collector Car Festival - August 15, 2009

"More than 300 classic vehicles were on display Sunday at the 10th anniversary of the Blethering Place Collector Car Festival. Besides all the eye candy for discerning admirers of fine automobiles, live music and a barbecue rounded out the event on Oak Bay Avenue between Mitchell Street and Monterey Avenue." Times Colonist

Blaine had the luxury of meeting up with two other DeTomaso Pantera owners, Blake, from Canmore, Alberta with his "Mtn Cat" red 1972 Pantera and Marcus, from Sidney BC, with his red 1973 Pantera. The three of them met before hand and drove together in parade to the Car Show to ensure that they would be able to park next to each other.

Blaine was having cooling issues and was losing alot of water so he turned off his engine and rolled down the slight incline before starting the engine again. When that engine started, some little old lady near him nearly had a heart attack. That's why when he leaves for early morning car shows, I make him roll his car out of the garage and down the hill of our cul de sac before starting it.

When I arrived at the show, with kids in tow, the Panteras were parked down a side street, not on Oak Bay Avenue. They were attracting quite a crowd though. Enjoy the pictures and I will add more once Marcus sends me his.

For more pictures, check out Marcus as @eclectechie on Twitter.

Janis (the "other woman" as the Pantera is the first)

Monday, August 17, 2009

Coast Drift BC Day Bash - Victoria BC 2009

I started working part time at the local speed shop . The were sponsoring an import car show/drift event at the track and I was invited to attend. We all met at the shop at 7:30 am and had a "spirited" drive to the racetrack. Now I am normally a very conservative driver but I kept getting stuck behind slow people and I just had to catch up. The car this season has been running awesome and it felt good to open it up a bit on the highway and let the girl breathe. The highway at this point has 3 northbound lanes and with just a little pedal and plenty of space between myself and other traffic the car leaped forward like a like an Olympic sprinter on steroids and easily reeled in the rest of the pack. When we arrived at the track we set up the display and 14 cars all with Zensport Decals flanked the booth. The cat was surrounded by civics, skylines, 240's, RSX's, Porsches, RX-7's and 8's and a host of others all done up to the nines. The P-car stuck out like a sore thumb.

The drift cars started practicing around 8:30 and kept on going throughout the day. One of our customers was in the event and was drifting for his first time. Unfortunately he was unable to get some good drift tires before the event and ended up getting traction when he shouldn't have and put the car into the wall. It was a shame to see the car so destroyed but fortunately he walked out of it without a scratch.

The Pantera got LOTS of attention and the event organizers thought it would be a good show to set up a drag race between the my car and one of the higher powered drift cars driven by Reo Baird whom I can say knows his car VERY well and drives it like it was a part of his body. Quite the skilled driver. I was somewhat intimidated but agreed to the race. Reo said his boost controller was not working so he was running a little less power than he should be. Ok so I have a fighting chance now. Come time for the showdown we warm the car up and the guys tell me to take a lap or two around the oval to warm the tires a bit and get a feel for the track. Ok, lets be clear here. I have NEVER had my car on a track much less pitted it against a race car in front of stands with a whole bunch of people watching. I was about as nervous as I could be and wasn't quite sure what was expected from me. Well, relax and enjoy it is what I decided to do. I slowly drove around the track and lined up behind the drift cars. At this point the officials cleared ALL other cars from the track and waved me on. I eased into the throttle and was going at a fair clip into the first corner I or at least I think I am. The car is GLUED. No tire squeal no slide just G-Force pushing me into my seat bolster. I could get used to this. I exited the corner with a bit of throttle. My car has no front sway bar so it had a nice easy push to the outside of the track. At this point I was on the straightaway just in front of the stands. Not to disappoint I pinned the throttle. The car screamed like a banshee and the boost came on like a rocket. Before I went on the track I had asked my buddy how much more traction to expect on the track and he told me it would be a fair bit stickier than the street. Well, somebody forgot to tell my car that. The back end gave that tell-tale shift and the revs came up a little quicker than they would normally. I feathered the throttle and shifted to third hit the other turn on the oval a little slower than the first as I was starting to ease off as I still didn't know exactly what was expected of me. It was a short stint but the most exhilarating drive I have had yet in the car. Once I got back to the pit I was told that the track officials had called off the drag racing because of insurance issues. I was a bit let down but was still high from the first run around the track.

I parked back by the booth and relaxed for the rest of the day. Little did I know the excitement was far from over. Throughout the day I happily answered questions about the car and was quite elated to see the reaction people had to the car. Namely the kids. Everyone had good things to say and certainly made me feel that the ten years on the car was well spent.

At 4:00 it was awards time. The first few awards went to cars in our display and and certainly belonged there. The cars around me may not have been labeled exotic but could certainly have fit well with the name. The fit and finish on these cars was incredible. At the end of it all 8 of the 14 or so awards went to cars in the Zensport display. Best interior went to a Gold/Orange civic that had an engine bay to rival anything I have seen before and threw down dyno #s over 300 HP. Best all wheel drive went to a beautiful black Nissan Skyline with over 300 hp as well. Best Audio Video went to an awesome black acura RS-X with a stereo that could blow eardrums of anybody in a 20 foot radius. This is where it got interesting. I got called up for the best custom performance engine. I found this quite amusing as a ford push rod V8 motor was crowd favorite at an import car show.... A few more awards went out to for some other things like best drift teams and best vendor display which we kinda had no chance for. At the end of it all they announced the best of show. Now I love my car and I think its great but not a best of show kinda car. I see unfinished interior, 6 year old abused paint, scratched windows and other things. Apparently other people don't see these things. I got called up for the award. I was a quite shocked and sounded like an idiot up on stage as the announcer asked me questions about the car and I was surrounded by trophy girls (what a wonderful thing, good thing Janis didn't come.

After the awards were over people started to clear out a bit. I took my leave as my wonderful wife was at home with my two kids. One of which was sick. I took a conservative drive back home and put the cat back in the garage with a quick pat to let her know how proud I was. After filling my wife in on the day I sat down on the couch and replayed the day in my head over and over. It was a good day.


Thunder in the Valley 2009

Thank you to Chris of Zensport for taking my car to Thunder in the Valley in Port Alberni BC. Wish I had slicks though cause he had trouble getting traction. 1/4 mile was 12.2 s at 136 mph......Holy S#$%!!

Next year, slicks and I drive.

Birch Bay Pantera Show 2006

Every year in September, the Northwest Pantera Owner's Club has a DeTomaso Pantera show in Birch Bay, Washington. In 2006, I was honoured with the People's Choice trophy. Thank you fellow Pantera owners. It was great to see all the Panteras. What a sight!