Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Stars shine at Dine in the Dark

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DINE IN THE DARK -- The CNIB's experiential bash at Assiniboia Downs on Sept. 13 brought out local politicians, celebs and business people to wear blindfolds during the entire dinner.

Tracy Garbutt, who teaches independent living skills, gave the giggling crowd tips on how to hang on to their dinners while wearing goggle-like "occluders" that exclude all light. Entertainer Fred Penner gamely performed his first act blindfolded and did The Cat Came Back at the end of the night for all the "kids."

Spotted: Sight-challenged Christine Bonnet, a humorous Rotarian who sometimes performs marriages (motto: "Love is blind"), as well as CJOB's Hal Anderson and his lovely bride Jackie. She insists they are NOT getting chickens on their new acreage. Lt.-Gov. Phillip Lee's daughters Malinda and Maggie Lee attended in place of their dad, who was off in China with Premier Greg Selinger on a trade mission.

Politicos enjoying the new experience included Lawrence Toet, Sharon Blady, Thomas Steen, Russ Wyatt and Brian Mayes. Also on the scene were Curtis and Debbie Wyatt of Wyatt Dowling, lawyer Greg Brodsky, police Chief Keith McCaskill, former police chief Herb Stephen and Bob Brennan, the recently retired head of Manitoba Hydro.

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VROOM! VROOM! Derek Pollock, owner of Rental Racecars, says more than 70 Winnipeggers tried out car racing in his three wildly emblazoned rentals at Red River Co-op Speedway this summer season.

"If I had six cars, I could have booked them solid," he says. "I've had drivers from 18 to 70 years old -- five of them women -- and had to turn about 20 people away."

Actual racing in a rental race car isn't cheap at $350 a pop, but for the guy or gal who has everything...

"Most racers were white-collar guys, usually business owners with disposable income who can buy what they want," Pollock says. "In many cases, the races were bought as surprise gifts by their spouses."

Because there are no more races with spaces, Pollock is offering an unusual event Sept. 29 at Red River Co-op Speedway. It won't be a real race, but it will be a chance for 20 wannabe race-car drivers to put the pedal to the metal at 10 laps for $100 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Email derek@rentalracecar.com or call 204-781-8837 for information.

"I had one fellow, Greg Hore, who's 51 and a financial consultant for Investors Group, who rented a race car every Monday for 10 weeks -- he did the whole season. He bought his own helmet and suit, and came one point from winning Rookie of the Year."

Nine people have tried the rental race cars and gone on to buy their own cars and race full time. Why?

"It's the popularity of NASCAR. Everybody wants to be like Tony Stewart or Jeff Gordon," says Pollock, who races super-trucks 20 times a season.

Other multiple-time keeners on the track this summer? Montana Cookhouse owner John Ford and his buddy Rob Groening of Kelsey's, Patrick Allard, owner of PKP Construction, and Ryan Hambleton, who trains with his 14-year-old son Cyrus. Rob Cope from Carlson Engineered Composites "unfortunately had a problem with the car and blew the engine up."

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FEMALE CEOs BRINGIN' IT FOR HOMELESS: Just a handful of women are sleeping out on the cold street for the Sept. 27 Change for the Better CEO Sleepout this year. But two female powerhouses have been leading the entire pack of more than 45 fundraisers for the homeless. In the lead at $12,138 and rising Thursday was Marilyn McLaren, president and CEO of MPI, with Diane Gray, president and CEO of CentrePort in second at $8,565, and Rob Johnston, RBC's regional president, in third at $6,075.

The group goal is $150,000 by the time they bed down on the street. They passed $70,000 Thursday.

Want to contribute? Check out www.changeforthebetter.com .

Got tips, events, sightings, unusual things going on? Call Maureen's tip line at 204-474-1116, email maureen.scurfield@winnipegfreepress.com or send letters to Maureen Scurfield, c/o The Insider, 1355 Mountain Ave., R2X 3B6.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 21, 2012 B3

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