Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Guest Blog Post by James Hamilton

When I was at the Mississauga Torch Relay on Saturday, I was able to say hi to my Twitter GM friend Art of @GM_ArtandSerge.  Art and Serge are members of the GM team who are travelling with the Torch Relay Convoy and taking care of all the vehicles.  On occasion they have the opportunity to give guests ride alongs.  On Saturday when I ran into Art, James Hamilton was in the passenger seat looking somewhat stunned that someone was screaming from the sidewalk, "Are you the GM guys from Twitter?" 
James and his brother managed to track me down and I asked if they would like to write a guest post for my blog about their time with Art and the Torch Relay Convoy.
Below is James' account of the day along with the photo he took of me standing on the sidewalk in Mississauga.

Hi, my name is James Hamilton and I am a blogger – my blog is called Toronto Grand Prix Tourist. I met Christina on a crowded street corner in Mississauga, Ontario as I was passing by in a GM pickup truck – part of the Olympic Flame Relay convoy with the Fleet Manager Art Lewis.
My travel on that day was a result of an earlier email asking if I wanted to see the considerable amount of vehicles sponsored by General Motors which are required to support the Flame Relay, along with the Art, during a media event in Toronto. My answer was yes, although I did not get to see that vast amount of vehicles, now about numbering about 110, and was instead given the superior chance to go on an Olympic Flame Relay drive along. It took about a week of negotiations with the team to get an acceptable time to join the convoy as their primary responsibility is to ensure the vehicles receive service and are on the road and his schedules are pretty hectic.

James in the passenger seat and Art of GM in the driver's seat.

The date chosen was Saturday, December 19, 2009 and we finally got together in front of the Bell Campus in Mississauga just across the Toronto boundary. He pulled up in his shiny, fuel efficient, black GM Silverado (for sale after the Olympics) and we got together and went through his plans for our ride along. I say we because I had my fellow photographer, blogger and brother Joe Hamilton along for the event.

The Bell Campus location wasn’t a random location – it was chosen because Bell, a major Olympic Sponsor, had a special Flame Relay event on and the convoy was part of this event. We were told to go out and explore the Bell event and get ready to leave at a moment’s notice when the convoy heads out onto the official relay route. When we received word we jumped into that shiny, fuel efficient, black GM Silverado (probably be a good deal when it does go on sale) and got into line behind a few hundred police escort vehicles.
We headed into Toronto for the start of the Centennial Park leg of the day’s relay. During the Flame Relay we passed intersections blocked off by police on bikes and in cruisers, following emergency vehicles, control vehicles and buses which picked up and dropped off the relay runners. The crowds along the side of the roads were impressive and some of the people even ran ahead with the flame. Each runner was mobbed by eager fans hoping for photos. The wife of one runner I know had said that after he finished his run and taken photos with all his ‘fans’ that it was hard to get him into the car because his head was so big.

As the convoy continued we arrived in the heart of Mississauga, which must be that big ugly mall called Square One, and we were coming up to the entrance into the mall property and I had my window rolled down to take pictures as the convoy went around the corner. As we slowed down a gorgeous lady asked if we were the GM guys. I replied that yes, that Art himself was driving the shiny, fuel efficient, black GM Silverado (it will probably have quite a few miles on it by that time). She said that she was following the convoy on the internet and that she was the “not a shopaholic.” I was intrigued because she looked like the lady from Star Trek, Next Generation – you know, Marina Sirtis who played Councillor Deanna Troi. I thought it was cool that movie stars were out to support the Olympic Flame.

Photograph taken by James at the corner on Kariya Gate and Burnhamthorpe Road. That's my Mom behind me.

Shortly afterwards we departed from the flame convoy and Art drove us back to our car at the Bell Campus. Based upon Christina’s comment we were able to track her down on the infinite internets and I was dashed to find she was not Marina. She does, however, have a great blog and lots of enthusiasm. Good luck at the Vancouver Olympics Christina, James.

I am happy to tell you that I have been contacted and asked if I would like to have my own ride along with the GM team and the Olympic Torch Relay Convoy.  I will join Serge (Art is taking a well deserved break) in London, ON on December 27th.  If I can't be a Torchbearer, this is the next best thing.  It will be quite a day. Thank you very much for your post James.  It is great to get perspective from some other people. Christina.

No comments:

Post a Comment