"Defining Moments" -- some Camaro5Fest thoughts.....
"Defining Moments" -- Some Camaro5 thoughts........
I “write” this post while flying on a jet from Jacksonville to Detroit after attending the very first Camaro5fest.
(The first of many Camaro5Fests, I hope!)
In every endeavor, there are ‘defining moments’ –
--when we first started working on the very first run of a 5th gen Camaro -- The GMX-280 - -but we killed it as it did not deserve the hallowed Camaro name…)
--when we started working (again!) on the Camaro program
--when Sangyup Lee drew the first drawing of a Camaro (after many many others) that captured the true ‘essence’ of the 5th gen.
--when I first saw the completed full-size clay of the 5th gen.
--January 9, 2006 when the Silver Concept was first unveiled to the world.
--January 9, 2006 when it was very apparent that the concept was a resounding hit….
--August of 2006 when we made the announcement to the world that we would, indeed, build the next gen. Camaro – and further, that it would be built by the great men and women of Oshawa Assembly.
--when the ‘contract’ was signed – making everything official.
--The first sightings of the black and white IVERs……
--The first time we received 4 completed production intent 5thgens.
--watching the wonder and amazement in the eyes of our 15 Disciples as they saw – for the first time - those 4 production-intent Camaros at Milford…
--September of 2008 when we unveiled the first production intent 5thgen to our enthusiasts at the world-famous Indy 500
-- (a very special defining moment for me: Taking delivery of “Thor’ – my beloved CTF SS/RS)
--March of 2009 – Start of Regular Production!
-April 17, 2009 – Delivery to our first known retail customer – in Indianapolis, IN
Fast forward to EXACTLY ONE YEAR LATER:
--well over 1,000 Camaro Enthusiasts and an estimated 500 2010 Camaros descend on Valdosta, Georgia to celebrate the return of a Legend……..
……….and I still have “Perma-grin” as I think of what a great weekend it’s been.
Steve, Tom, Jeremy, and I arrived on Friday morning to unload about a dozen Camaro ‘specialty’ vehicles at South Georgia Motorsports Park – and my first reaction was: “Holy F-car, batman! -- This is going to be BIG” - -because the place was crawling with car carriers and vans from a couple dozen vendors…………
…and then the Camaros and their owners started to arrive………..even though the event didn’t start until that night!
We went back to the hotel to get ready for the Welcoming ‘Cruise’ – and as we made our way from the Marriott to the Host hotel - -we saw more and more Camaros. We stopped at a local car wash so that the Detroit contingent could get the bugs (…or, as I call them, “Mustang crumbs” ) washed off the faces of their Camaros. The girl at the carwash was stunned as suddenly there was a line of 15 or more Camaros -- waiting for a bath…………
We arrived at the hotel and I got a lump in my throat as I surveyed the parking lots – my goodness…. there were new Camaros as far as the eye could see – dozens and dozens of each color – plus many more in colors we’ve only dreamed of……
It’s interesting – over there was a section of Inferno Orange ones – and over there are several black ones with orange stripes………yellows there, Blues here.
…..and everywhere was the evidence of “Perma-grin” – that look that says “Wow – I love this car and I love what it brings to me………..”
Al Oppenheiser (our chief engineer) drove into the parking lot in one of the black and white “IVERs – and a flock of people headed over to check it out and say hello to us. We brought a few Transformer Editions (including Thor!) as well as a few Synergy Green Editions – and that got another flock headed our way.
And oh the hospitality! Everyone was so happy to be there. I thought to myself: “..This is a dream-come-true….the Camaro is BACK! “ (the famous Woodward Avenue billboard was right: Heaven couldn’t handle all the noise”)
Shortly, several members of Law Enforcement lined up in their police vehicles to block traffic for the largest Camaro Caravan I’ve ever seen……..a couple hundred 2010 Camaros coming down the highway all at once makes people stop in their tracks…..
Defining Moment: Two little boys are on their bicycles along a back road as we approach. Their eyes are the size of saucers as they smile and wave and yell “bumblebee!’ at us. I remark to Joe Bella – who is driving ‘Thor’ as I ride in the passenger seat: “These boys will remember this night for a long time to come…..how will they ever forget seeing several hundred Camaros roaring by on this back road?”
There was such great fellowship afterward at the Holiday Inn until the wee-hours of the morning…meeting so many old friends and making new ones……..
As I continued to walk thru the parking lot, I was fascinated as I looked at each Camaro – to see what the owner had done to make it his or her very own…..so many details – some subtle, some not so subtle!
I love listening to all of the stories – of how they wanted a new Camaro – of what the Camaro means to them. And I’m told over and over again that “…..my Camaro is part of the family – “
--And all of these wonderful people coming up to me - -shaking my hand and thanking everyone at General Motors for building such an amazing automobile. (their words, not mine)
Early the next morning the Georgia Countryside woke up to the “voices’ of hundreds of Camaros invading SGMSP.
It was a perfect-weather day of Drag racing, autocrossing, vendor exploration, and just enjoying the experience of owning a new Camaro….and meeting my fellow enthusiasts!
I think that Al Oppenheiser (Chief Engineer) Peter Kosak (VLD) Cheryl Pilcher (Product Manager) John Fitzpatrick (Marketing Manager) Adam Denison (Communications) John Cox (Accessories Manager) and myself went thru several “sharpies’ as we were asked to sign dozens and dozens of cars, books, and owner’s manuals. We are delighted to do so!
I must recognize a very special person who came the whole way from Oshawa to meet our enthusiasts: Mike Judge (aka Super60) works at the Oshawa Plant building these magnificent machines. What makes him more special is the countless hours he’s spent on Camaro5 talking with our enthusiasts – and providing them with signed lithographs - -something that he took upon himself to do and for which we applaud him! Mike – it was so great to meet you in person and I thank you for your dedication as well as your kindness to one and all.
As I stood on the bleachers at the Drag Strip and saw the longgg line-up of Camaros staged to ‘take each other on’ – I couldn’t help but think of young athletic men and women gathering to compete. Yes - -they’re only cars – but they have such presence – and those headlights…………. Am I crazy? I guess not, as suddenly an older gentleman came up to me – introduced himself and sat with me for a while – and made the SAME assessment as if the Camaros really ARE personalities, if you will….
-I spent some time walking around the vendors –watching as they showcased their wares – some of which are what I like to call “Camaroabilia” – and others who sell products and components that enhance the performance or handing of the new Camaro.
--After dinner, we enjoyed six laps around SGMSP’s oval track – and fireworks - -then a trip back to the hotel for more “Camaro Comradeship”
This was the first ‘Camaro5Fest’ – and the Moderators who pulled this activity together are to be commended – the event went off without a hitch and you’d have believed that this had been their 20th event—not their first!
Has the Camaro been a success?
Judging by the numbers, one might say “yes!’ But the REAL judge of success lies within the ownership experience.
Is everyone 100% completely satisfied? No – unfortunately I can’t say that every last owner is -- and unfortunately I’m not sure that our goal of 100% complete customer enthusiasm will ever be met as it’s probably humanly unattainable, but we’ll sure die trying!
What I DO know is this: In 33 years with General Motors, I don’t know that I’ve ever quite experienced what I did this past weekend at Camaro5fest. I saw every age group from all walks of life from all over the United States and Canada……..
…………….and one thing brought them together: A new Camaro.
I can tell you that the team will never stop “putting their all” into this car – we’ll never stop trying to continually improve it – so that you, our customer will continue to experience the joy of owning a Camaro – the “Pride of Ownership” – or, as I call it; “Perma-grin”
As I sit in a meeting tomorrow morning, I will probably let my mind drift back to Saturday – and I will realize that this is one of those “Defining moments” -- perhaps one of the best of my career…………and I will never forget that it is YOU – the enthusiast – who made this all possible…..because without YOU, there is no Camaro.
God Bless you.
See you again at another Camaro show!
…….and don’t forget – Wear those safety belts!
Last edited by fbodfather; 04-19-2010 at 12:38 PM.