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Lisa-and-Garry-Go-Round: Garry's Best of 2012

January 14th, 2013


Another year gone and one of my favourite things to do as we usher in the New Year is to swap dayplanners.

I realize with all the electronic gizmos around, a real-paper daily planner seems somewhat old-school but for the past 33 years I’ve been transposing phone numbers, contacts, passwords, frequent travel club numbers and our personal fleet mileage grids to a spanking-new Brownline daily planner. The outgoing one gets placed on a shelf in sequence with ones dating back to 1979.

My dog-eared 2012 planner indicated that I changed cities or towns for a meeting or overnight stay 519 times, took 115 flights and drove over 200,000 kilometres. That’s a lot of moving around and fortunately there were no accidents, breakdowns or conflicts with the locals. Other than a pesky $156-ticket for an illegal left turn in Montreal that my wife told me to take and a parking ticket near Quebec City, there were no scrapes with the law either.

Taking a closer look at the well-worn 2012 day planner revealed I drove 53 different press cars plus a slew of rentals and all but one of my fleet of 12 vehicles that range from a Porsche 911 to a 1965 Ford F-100 pick-up to a SYM Mio 50cc scooter.

Indeed 2012 was a challenging, action-packed affair. What were the highlights?

1. Being inducted into the Maritime Motorsports Hall of Fame at a gala ceremony in Moncton, New Brunswick in November. Since 2006, more than 70 Maritime motorsport heroes have been inducted into the non-profit organization with proceeds benefitting the preservation of motorsport heritage in the Maritimes. I was humbled to be selected as one of last year’s 10 new inductees.

2. A driving lesson in a 470-horsepower Western Star twin steer dump truck between Halifax and Labrador City. My right arm got a workout shifting the 18-speed Eaton transmission under the watchful eye of my instructor, long time trucker Frank Porter, who has been awarded the Nova Scotia Safety Council Million Mile Award not once, but twice.

3. Driving the new Porsche Boxster S around the Atlantic Motorsport Park track in Shubenacadie. Nothing like a few hours behind the wheel of a superb sports car on an excellent track to show you just how much nerve you can muster.

4. Touring the Chilean wine regions in a Hyundai Elantra was how wife Lisa Calvi and I celebrated New Year 2012. Although we sourced the car from Hyundai in Santiago, it was identical to the Elantras sold in Canada.

5. Driving an 2012 Audi TT RS from Toronto to Halifax in a snowstorm. Not a lot of chances to wind out the 360 horses, five-cylinder turbo engine, but I put Audi’s tried-and-true Quattro system to work on the slippery roads. Of the 53 press cars I drove over the year, this just might be my favourite.

6. Poking around Halifax on our Sym Mio scooter to the chagrin of my daughters, who claim I look a bit ridiculous on it. I don’t care, it was fun and next summer I’ll be back on the orange and cream coloured Vespa knock-off that Lisa calls “The Creamcycle”.

7. Finding homes for my fleet of 12 cars and trucks after they were evicted from the storage bunker I had rented for the past 15 years. They are a far-flung fleet now, holed up at various museums, garages and showrooms in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario. If I wanted to check the oil in all of them it would involve a 5,000-kilometre road trip.

8. Hauling the War of 1812 mobile stage around Ontario and Quebec and then down to Halifax with a Chevy Silverado 3500 Duramax diesel. The 23,000 pound, $500,000 millstone sure keeps your mind on the job at hand. An added bonus was talking to all those curious people I met whenever I stopped.

9. Driving Cape Breton’s Cabot Trail eight times in September pulling together the national media launch for the 2013 Chevy Malibu. It’s not often we get to actually work in Nova Scotia and to hole up in Margaree Valley’s pretty Normaway Inn while working out the details of the launch was first cousin to a full-blown vacation.

10. Death Valley driveabout in an Audi A5 coupe. Checking out the likes of Badwater, Devils Cornfield, Furnace Creek and those salt flats almost 100 metres below sea level in a superb German sports coupe is the perfect way to feel far from home.

There is no question all this looks a little bratty. For a guy whose three favourite things are people, places and vehicles, I realize 2012 was a prime example of having my cake and eating it, too.

As I flip through the blank pages of my crisp new Brownline day planner, I’m excited to see what 2013 will bring.

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