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My car: Chris Rudge

100 cars later, Argos boss settles on pickup Add to ...

Chris Rudge

  • The vehicle: 2010 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X
  • Profession: Executive chairman and CEO, Toronto Argonauts Football Club, and chair and CEO of the 100th Grey Cup Festival
  • Age: 67
  • Hometown: Malton, Ont.

Notable achievements

  • EO of the Canadian Olympic Committee from Jan. 10, 2003, until his retirement on April 15, 2010
  • Chaired the Own The Podium program, which he held through the 2010 Olympic Winter Games that saw Canada win 14 gold medals, the most for any country in an Olympic Winter Games
  • President of Canadian and international operations for Quebecor World Inc., which at the time of his retirement in 2002 was the world’s largest commercial printer.
  • Started his career as a physical education teacher with the Toronto Board of Education
  • Adjunct Professor at the University of British Columbia’s School of Human Kinetics

Upcoming

Toronto Argonauts home opener is July 7 at 3 p.m. at Rogers Centre

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He’s at the helm of the Toronto Argonauts, North America’s oldest professional football club, but CEO Chris Rudge is also the chairman of the 100th Grey Cup Festival in Toronto this November.

Multi-tasking is nothing new for Rudge – he was the former CEO of the Canadian Olympic Committee and chairman of the Own The Podium program during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

He has a proven track record on the field and on the road. He drives a 2010 Nissan Titan Crew Cab PRO-4X truck – one of about 100 different vehicles he has owned throughout his life.

Why did you buy a Titan?

I had always wanted a pickup truck. I liked the look of their pickup truck.

I have a condo in the city and a home in Georgian Bay. It made sense with the stuff I trek around. I do a lot of landscaping. I have my own dog and my daughter’s dog comes into town when she’s away skiing. This vehicle just seemed to fit the bill.

This truck is terrific from the perspective of towing. I have a 25-foot Cobalt boat that I often tow. I’ve towed it behind other vehicles in the past. I’ve never driven anything that tows a large load as comfortably as this does. You hardly know there is anything behind you. That’s something that distinguishes it from other vehicles.

But do you really need a pickup truck driving in the city?

I tend to march to my own drummer. The fact I drive a pickup truck as a corporate guy in the city means people do raise their eyebrows sometimes saying, ‘Why aren’t you driving a Cadillac or a BMW?’

I’ve had lots of Cadillacs and BMWs – I change cars all the time. I’ve probably owned 100 cars in my life. I feel this one is very comfortable.

Are you a gear head?

Not so much a gear head. I like speed and I like fast things.

I raced a NASCAR car a number of times back in my old days when I ran a company called Quebecor Printing. One day for a big sales event, I rented the Las Vegas speedway and took a NASCAR racing course and raced with a bunch of NASCAR drivers. I think my average speed was 150 mph on a tri-oval track. That was really a thrill.

What was your first car?

A ’53 Chev at the end of my first year in university in 1965. It was $25.

I got two flat tires with it on the way home and it cost me more to get two used tires than the vehicle cost me. I kept it for two years and sold it for $50.

I remember that car so affectionately. It was a robin’s egg blue with three-on-the-tree.

In those days, you’d lift up the hood and it was a straight-six engine. All it had was a starter, a generator and a carburetor. You could probably put two suitcases beside the engine. Nowadays, if you lift up the hood you couldn’t put a bottle of Gatorade in there. It was amazing how much space it had.

This car had holes in the floorboard, wipers barely worked and it burned so much oil. I had a friend who worked in a garage and when he changed oil in people’s fancy cars, he’d put them in the old gallon vinegar jugs and I’d always carry 10 gallons of oil in the back and have to put it in. We weren’t environmentally conscious in those days.

What else did you own?

Then I went really upscale. For $150, I bought a ’57 Pontiac.

I’ve had lots of cars. One I remember very affectionately was a 1989-90 Acura Legend coupe. I had one of the first [Nissan]300ZXs in Canada in 1985-86. It was a green one with the T-roof. I had two-in-a-row Lincoln Mark VII coupes that were beautiful cars, too.

Any lemons in the bunch?

The one real lemon I had I bought in the early ’80s – it was a used Cadillac with a 4-6-8 mode. When you got on the highway it would switch onto six and then four cylinders to save gas.

I took four guys golfing down to Myrtle Beach and the thing broke down more times. It was an absolute disaster. They could never get the engine working properly. Beautiful car when it was working.

Do you ride bikes, too?

I have a BMW R1200 cruiser. I don’t ride as much as I’d like to. I’ve only been a biker for about 15 years.

Any mishaps with your bike?

No. I have never gone down. They say there are two kinds of riders – those who have fallen and those who are going to fall. I’m trying to create the third category.

If I could bring you the keys to any car or bike what would it be?

It would be a car – I like the Aston Martin convertibles – the Vantage or the DB9 – that’s a pretty attractive car.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

pgentile@globeandmail.com

Follow on Twitter: @PetrinaGentile

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