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Adventure-filled Willy's Garage reality-TV show launches Season 2 tonight at the Free Press News Café

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As far as I'm concerned, the only thing funnier than my friends and I having our own TV series is the fact we got signed up for a second season.

Season 2, officially called Willy's Garage Goes ... is ready for prime time, or actually it's ready anytime you are. Beginning this Monday, it will be available to MTS TV subscribers free of charge 24 hours a day, seven days a week, via the cable provider's innovative Winnipeg on Demand feature.

If you don't want to wait until Monday to see all the action, you can join us tonight at the new Free Press News Café at 237 McDermot Ave. We'll be closing off Arthur Street between Bannatyne and McDermot from 4 p.m. to midnight for a custom car, truck and motorcycle show and showing episodes of the new series on a massive outdoor screen that will be our best imitation of a drive-in movie theatre.

To get you up to speed on how all this came about, back in 2009 MTS TV executive producer Cam Bennett made me the proverbial offer I couldn't refuse. That offer resulted in six episodes of a big-budget (OK, maybe it was a medium budget) TV series that chronicled interesting, amazing and even oddball vehicles that my friend found me to test-drive.

Season 1 was called Willy's Garage Presents: The Big Money Test Drive and hit the air more than a year ago. Apparently the ratings were good enough to warrant a second season, so, on behalf of all the cast and crew, thanks for tuning in!

Season 1 is still available on MTS TV's Winnipeg on Demand and, thanks to our friends from Selkirk Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep, segments are also up and running on the new Winnipeg Free Press WFP-TV website.

In season 2 we changed things up a bit. First, we changed the name to Willy's Garage Goes... Now before you go conjuring up images of me dressed like Ernest and going to camp or joining the army, fear not, it's still a show about cool machines.

We filmed six episodes in high-definition video that saw us drag racing, motocross racing, stock car racing, trying out the fast-paced sport of rally with the Zedril brothers, flying in a Hercules airplane with the RCAF and even fighting crime with the Winnipeg Police Service. My buddies "Evel" Dave Radey and Jason "Homer" Holmes are back again this year, and we added two new members to the cast -- "Solid" Wade Corke, a veteran Manitoba corrections officer, and Amy Hamel, a parts specialist at Harley-Davidson Winnipeg.

Wade was brought in because he has nice hair, and Amy made the cut because she's not only amazingly photogenic, she knows more about cars, trucks and motorcycles than most men twice her age.

I'm not gonna spoil the plots, but I will tell you that my friends somehow managed to get me into some fun-filled -- and at times borderline terrifying -- adventures. Although it was a huge commitment for everyone involved and more work to make us look good than viewers will ever know, I'm confident you will thoroughly enjoy our antics.

The series was shot on location right here in friendly Manitoba and was produced by Kyle Bornais and Scott R. Leary of Far Point Films. Leary was also the writer and director and, after witnessing him put up with our stunts, it's fair to say he has the patience of a saint.

We spent about six weeks last fall shooting at various locations, followed by a winter of editing. There were many, many people involved in all this, and a huge thanks goes out to everyone who pitched in to create what I'm convinced is the best TV show (I'm a little biased) ever filmed in Manitoba.

The crew included director of photography Dave Gaudet, camera operator Bruce Claydon, our talented and extremely organized production manager and assistant director Joni Church, sound gurus John Hildebrand and BJ Verot, hair and makeup artists Alisha Talbot and Brenda Magalas, and our energetic assistant production co-ordinator Benjie Aytona. The music was provided by Mitch Dorge of Crash Test Dummies fame and our band, The Gearheads, even pitched in for a few songs.

This is an exciting time for all of us and we'd like to extend a personal invitation to everyone to stop by and join us tonight for the series launch and the first of what promises to be many great auto-related events at the Free Press News Café.

Willy's Garage Goes...

What: MTS TV Winnipeg on Demand television series launch and free custom car and motorcycle show

When: Today from 4 p.m.-midnight.

Where: Winnipeg Free Press News Café, 237 McDermot Ave.

The scene: We have room for thousands of spectators. All spots for the car and bike show are almost gone, but if you'd like to display your classic or special-interest ride, email for more information.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 13, 2011 F8

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