Internal clock wokeÂ me up at 5am again today (still on Dallas time) so after some mulling around the room I packed and got Blue Bear situated in his seat andÂ we were off.Â Â According to ‘Lola’ it was going to be another hot one.Â Â
We took a short drive over to Santa Anita Race Track to see if ‘Georgie Boy’ was aroundÂ butÂ ’Big Brown’s’ slower and older cousin said he was out of town.Â
Then just drove along the back roads to the Rose Bowl and stopped for some photo ops.
Then it was off to the Rose Bowl for the morning Rally.Â Moments after I arrived a whole bunch ofÂ Classics and MINI’s arrive coming from the South Bay MINI Dealer morning event.
Finally got to meet Scott who owns the Silver Sportspack I was admiring yesterday and spent some time discussing the classics.Â Jim was nice enough to pose next to a classic for a photo.
Steve was back today with GP0282.Â Yesterday he had hisÂ blue Cooper S with the GP KitÂ that was transplanted from his otherÂ GP that was totalled.Â She still lives on in the Blue S.Â Â Also in attendance wasÂ GP0782Â and Joel in GP0056.
Then we were off onto the morning Rally up Angeles Crest which had to be the best drive of all the events.Â Â very scenic and lots of twists and turns.
The rally was supposed to take about 2hrs and at the 1 1/2 hr point I checked ‘Lola’ to see what time I would get back to the Rose Bowl asÂ I needed to get the rental back to the airport by 2pm and she indicated about 1:30pm.Â Dooh! I pulled out my instructions and yeap we missed the turn around point and we were now 20 miles deeper into the mountain.Â I spun around and let the other folks continue on and I back tracked down the mountain and was back at the Rose Bowl bsuprisingly by 12:45.Â (could of made it by 12:30 if I had GP)Â Â
Said my goodbye’s to friends and I was off to the airport leaving behind a fanstastic motoring weekend with new and old friends and lots of MINI’s and Mini’s.Â Robert many thanks to you and KittieÂ for the company and helping make the weekend even better!Â
You have to love LAX, where else can you run into Ice Cube and Alec Baldwin in the same hour.
Well thatÂ raps up MTTS 2008 and was glad I was able to attend three of the four events.Â Each had its own fond memories and all were quite enjoyable.Â Hands off to MINI USA for a great event and are now looking forward to MINI United 2009 and IMM 2009 both in the UK.Â Â Â Hopefully MTTS 2010 winds up being a cross country rally again.
Got Blue Bear situated in his seat andÂ picked upÂ Robert prior to driving down to UCLA for the ‘Morning Rise-n-shine’ where some 400-500 cars gathered.Â Â It was definetely more cars then they anticipated as they ran out of room in the allocated section and wound up shifting some cars to other areas.Â It was really a greatÂ to see so many MINI’s.Â
Lots of cool looking cars in attendance…
and 5 1/2 GPs. Joel in GP0056 who we met in ‘06 during the GP early delivery in Monterey, Amil in GP0193, GP1333, Mike in GP1405, and GP1297Â who had its roof numberÂ removed and had different wheelsÂ and can youÂ spot what is different about this blue S?
Â The Mini’s came inÂ all sizes. Classic,Â FluffyÂ and hairy.Â
Then it was off on the morning rally to the Rose Bowl.Â After being escorted by LA’s finest out towards the PCH we got behind Joel GP and followed him up to our firstÂ stop at Topanga State Park for the Suprise and Delight stop.Â Â It was comical, the Cooper Convertible could barely get out of its own way.Â Made my Cooper Sport feel GPish..Â It was probablyÂ filled with 87 where it could have used some 93 octane.Â Had to turn the AC off so it could make it up some of the steep points.
The first half of the leg was scenic and fun but afterÂ we left the Topanga State Park we were supposed to make a right turn but were directed left because of some supposed accident later in our scheduled route.Â That was unfortunate because we had to back track the long way back to the Rose Bowl through a lot of traffic.Â Â When they say LA traffic is bad… take their word for it… It can be.Â Â Â
We eventually made it to the Rose Bowl about 2hrs late but still with plenty of time to enjoy all the activities.Â Present was the new Crossover prototype and FireBall Tim had a booth with several of his works.
Was a little disappointed that more than the handful of Classic didn’t attend as thereÂ is a rather large community in the area but the handful was enough to put a smile on my face.Â Just glad I made it through the day without another acquisition.
After getting our log book stamped, having some ice cream and dropping our bags off in the car we headed over to the auto cross and took the new JCWs out for a spin… well several spins.Â Was able to get back in queue and wound up driving both the JCW S and the JCW Clubman several times during the afternoon.Â
I do have to say that once you get beyond the slight turbo lag and the power kicks in it kicks in with a major thrust!Â It seems slugish off the line in a similar way as my ‘02 wasÂ when I first got it that was eventually resolved with aÂ programming update so wonder ifÂ the off the line lag might be resolved.Â Â
I keep reading how the new JCWÂ with the added torque does not suffer from torque steerÂ but evidentlyÂ they never drove the car on heavy acceleration in a straight line or in and out of turns as it is present.Â Â Â
The gear box is smoother to shift but find that you’ve lost theÂ steering feedbackÂ and would have prefered it a bit firmer.Â Â
What is the best thing about the new JCW?Â The brakes! The four pot Brembos and larger rear brakes are really a great improvement over the older JCW brakes and I would definetely be looking to upgrade to these on the GP.Â You can never have too much stopping power.Â Â
The new JCW is an impressive car and the engine is a great forward evolution and exhaust in Sport mode sounds great.Â If you plan on getting a new JCW I think it could benefit from theÂ JCWÂ suspension as the rear felt twitchy when pushed through the turns.Â Â Â
Although the newÂ R56 JCW isÂ more economical then the GP and could probably give it a good run for its money in performance I’ll be sticking with myÂ GP.
It was a hot day and did notÂ stay for the concert but insteadÂ went back and changed and I went out with Robert and Kittie for a nice dinner at Houston’s.Â Thanks Robert and Kittie!
We got the bears ready and headed toÂ Pier 4 for the morning Rally up to GloucesterÂ and back down to UMass.Â Â The day was perfect and the backdrop was stunning.
FiguringÂ probably between 250-275 cars were in attendance on the pier.
Then about 10am after a speech from Jim McDowellÂ it was time forÂ Rauno to wave the Green flag and commence on our journey north to Gloucester.
We encountered some interesting scenery along the way and GP detoured in front of the Salem Witch Museum for a quick picture
and we got back in queue in front of Steve Seward of MINI USA and his Clubman.Â After a couple of wrong turns and thankful to Nuvi who got us back on trackÂ we made itÂ to Gloucester where we stopped for some pictures with Gerry and Jayne in front of the fisherman and I could not resist getting some ice cream!
We met up with Ian at his home and left the girls to have some fun on their own while we headed for a great lunch and a wonderful personalized tour of Gloucester in Margaret’s convertible.
Then it was like the good ole days of MTTS 2006 with Ian and I rallying our way down to UMASS where we parked the girls next to each other and headed off to registration.Â Seemed to be a good number of cars and people in attendance.
Ian was able to haveÂ Rauno autograph QQJ and Rauno took his personal camera out and ask someone take hisÂ picture withÂ Ian andÂ QQJ. Â Rauno really is a wonderful man.
On our way to the autocross we ran intoÂ Jim and Gina of MINI USA. Jim showing off hisÂ new checkered flag tattoos.Â The autocross was a blast, nice course and not a large queue that provided the opportunity to driveÂ a car and get back in line for another car.Â Ian tookÂ both Clubmans for a spin.
Want to have some fun?Â Put on a velcro suite and see how high you can jump on a velcro wall.Â The kids made it look to easy.
On display was the Classic, Challenge, JCW S and JCW Clubman.Â I had thought the classic belonged to someone of MoM but perhaps not.Â Will have to find out when I’m back in L.A who owns this little classic.Â Think it would look good in my collection.
At the end of the day everyone gathered for the Fountains of Wayne concert.
and before heading out I got GP next to the new JCW Clubman for some photo’s and it was off to the roomÂ and got GP a spot with a night light.Â Good night lil GP.
We got up early and headed out to Mahwah, NJ to meet up with the final leg of the MTTS Miami to Boston run.Â Â Hit some traffic (what a suprise) and arrived about 15 minutes before they were getting ready to leave.Â Enough time to take some photo’s, grab a quick snap and say hello to MINI friends.
At the start we had about 30 MINI’s in our rally group but soon after crossing the Tapan Zee BridgeÂ we lost our original pace car butÂ met up with Susan Madera of MINIUSA in herÂ new Choco Clubman and followed her up to Boston.Â Â Â During our pitstop ‘Goober’ had a chance to check out the Clubman.
Â We made it up to Boston and checked into the Hotel prior to meeting up with Ian and friends for a bite before heading over to F1 Boston for the MINI Owner Meet and Greet Event.Â Ian before meeting us stopped at F1 Boston who ran into someone returnedÂ Qauck-Quack-Jack back to Ian.Â Â Last time we saw QQJ was when we handed him off last year at MINI United in Amsterdam.Â Â Based on all his pins he’s been a pretty busy fella.
Walking into F1 Boston was the new JCW Clubman on display.
Met up with friends (Ian, Mike, Karen, Jayne and Pete) and watched aÂ bit of racing.
Well here is a picture you won’t see in any magazine or advert.Â Was able to convince the owner of this GP to pull up in front of the Challenge car for this picture before he was scooted away by security.Â Â Â Damn the GP is one sharp looking car!
Before heading over to Bicentennial Park for the kick offÂ of the Rally to Homestead I took a morning drive to Miami Beach for a cafecito but made a few stops along the way for some photo ops.Â Don’t ask how I got the MINI under the tree.Â Good thing for run flats and the fact that it wasÂ a Rental!
Then it was off to Bicentennial Park where what looked like over 100 cars got together in preperation for the Rally.
Blue Bear met up with his old friend Nigel and they spent some time reminissing about good times and in attendance were a lot of the Sunshine MINI folks that we met last year at Mickey and MINI.
About 10am it was time for the Rally to Homestead where Rauno was the marshall waiving us on.Â Â Miami-Dade Police escorted us through Miami and blocked cross streetsÂ which I’m sure made quite a few folks a little warm under the collar.Â Glad I hadÂ a convertible as I was able to hop up on my seat and take shots when we came to stops.
The setup of MTTS 2008 is very similar to last years MINI United.Â They had the go-karts, auto cross; climbing wall, bungee thingy, car washÂ and concert stageÂ amongst other activities.Â
They had a bike stunt show running throughout the day andÂ someÂ few folks were preselected for a photo shoot of up and coming MotoringGear and like MINI United they had a car wash but unlike the MINI United car wash this one had high school kids washing your car not long legged models.Â Kids looked like they were having a good time.
AfterÂ registering and getting the swag bags I headed for the autocrossÂ where I took the new Clubman S around the course and was pleasantly pleased with it.Â Handles like a MINI but has a much more comfortable drive then your standard S.Â Â Mine was finished in Chocolate with a nice chocolate fabric trimmed in ivory interior.Â Perhaps the nicest fabric combination I’ve seen to date and muchÂ nice then the ordinary blah black.Â I took a walk over to the go-karts and thought about it for a second but it was just too bloody hot to put on a balaclava and helmet on.
The new JCW Clubman was on display and got a chance to chat about it withÂ Thomas of MINI USA. The new biggerÂ Brembo brakes fill the wheel nicely as does the matching (bigger then stock) rear red calipers.Â Took a peak underneathÂ and the exhaustÂ is not much to look at and no longer stainless steel or at least it doesn’t look like it is.Â Looks like something out of the back of a Chevy honestly but forget the looks Thomas started it up and let me tell if you like throaty this one sounds more awesome then the older JCW Exhaust.Â Â Blue bear found a spot to rest while I chatted.
Todd was at his booth selling his badges which he sold out in two hours and Rauno had a tent where attendees could talk to him about his racing history and get autographs.
No Florida event would be complete without the afternoon downpour and lightening storm though it move through relatively quickly.
I bought a new MINI a red one and limited edition #22 of 50 andÂ one of only two signed by Rauno! (Todd has the other).Â Was able to get Rauno to sign it right before his WRR interview which was a good one.Â He’s such a wealth of information and great stories.
I think the storm scared a few folks away but they must have all come back for the Track Parade lap as there were hundreds maybe thousands of MINI’s lined up for a photo at the end of the laps.Â Â The track laps was one of the days highlights asÂ the banks are so high you get the feeling your going to just slide down.
And the weather held up andÂ we finished off the day with aÂ great concert by Michelle Branch!
Back home and heading up to MTTS Boston next weeked.
Flew into Miami and rentedÂ a Cooper S Convertible to attend the kick off of MINI Takes the States 2008.Â Â I went straight to the hotel to check in and catch the rest of the Netherlands-France match.Â Â It rained for most of the match butÂ no sooner did the match finish did the sea part and the sun shined once again.
Then it was off to Bicentenial Park where it felt like aÂ MTTS 2006 reunion meeting up with all the folks from MINI USA, RAEvents and many folks from last years Mickey and Mini event.Â (Ian, many folks asked about you)
Special Guest in attendanceÂ isÂ the legendary Rauno AaltonenÂ who won the 1967 Monte Carlo rallyÂ in his 1275cc Cooper S who was kind enough to pose for a few pictures.Â Its unfortunate I won’t be able to do the Miami to Boston drive as I am sure it will be a blast.
Two GPs were in attendanceÂ Florida ‘GP MINI’ GP1215 and GP0972 amongst the ~200 cars in attendance.
Â It wasn’t all new MINI’s, The Classics were well represented and a group of four all came together and looked like little toys cars amongst the landscape.
After a snack it was time to get some popcorn and sit back and watch National Treasure on the big screen.
Ran into Todd and DB and on my way out there were two Cooper Sports, a Tahiti Blue twin to my Blue Cooper Sport and a Red Cooper Sport.Â Â I wish I still had my Red Classic so I could have drivenÂ her down here .Â Â Â hmm, maybe I can convince the guy who owns this Red one to sell it to me tomorrow and I can drive it up on the rally? Oh if it just wasn’t for that damn annoying ‘work’
Â Convertible? I think this is the most time I’ve spent drivingÂ a MINIÂ Convertible.Â Â I have never been one for convertibles butÂ did enjoy driving around with the top down though I find the inability to view anything in the rear view a bit getting used to butÂ found theÂ damn automatic transmission to be the real annoyance.Â Â It is just god aweful! (maybe since its a rental its never seen the inside of the dealership for any sort of maintence… yeah thats what it must be.)
Can’t wait for tomorrow festivities and maybe let’s make a deal…..
Looks like there will be a 5-day Rally from Miami to Boston headed byÂ Rauno â€œThe Flying Finnâ€ AaltonenÂ following the conclusion of the Miami events andÂ stopping at various spots for dealer or MINI Club events.
Oh this sounds like fun!!!
MINI Takes the States 2008 is officially open for registration and the dates and locations are finalized.Â
- Miami June 13-15 @Homestead Racetrack with hot laps
- Boston June 20-22 @University of Massachusetts
- Chicago July 25-27 @Road America race track
- Los AngelesÂ August 1-3 @Rose Bowl
According to the siteÂ each cityÂ activities will include
- MINI Parking Corral at festival grounds
- MINI-Autocross Test Drive
- Live festival entertainment
- Headliner band Saturday night
- The â€œBootload of Fun Zoneâ€ with activities for all ages
- MINI Vendor Village
- An official MTTS Welcome Kit for each paid attendee
- Friday night Meet & Greet (MINI Owners only)
- Rise and Shine Saturday Rally (MINI Owners only)
I was thinking about MTTS 2008 the other day and today I received an email from MC2 MagazineÂ indicating the locations and dates:
Miami, FL. June 13-15.
Boston, MA. June 20-22
Chicago, IL. July 11-13
Los Angeles, CA.Â July 18-20
According to the email…..
“The Miami and Boston dates and locations are 100% locked down, but our info on Chicago and LA are not yet concrete, as MINI is still working on these times and locations. We feel they’re secure enough to inform everyone at this time.
Just what they’re planning at these locations, we don’t know for sure, but we will get back to you ASAP when we know more. Until then, we cannot reveal anything greater than we write here.
We will be at all three events with staff and support team of writers, photographers and video team, so do let us see your classic and new mini if it’s worth featuring in MC2.”
Still too early for hotel etc planning without knowing more details but as for participation I’m thinking of the following
Miami, FL. June 13-15Â Â with the Red Baby ClassicÂ - 5 hrs according to Mappoint so that means 7hrs each wayÂ in the Classic.
Boston, MA. June 20-22 with GP1717 no brainer.Â Ian lets do lunch.
Chicago, IL. July 11-13Â hmmmm GP1717 or Fly?
Los Angeles, CA.Â July 18-20Â : Maybe with GP1415 but itÂ is a haul from Dallas so maybe I’ll just fly out and hitch a ride.
IÂ guess if someone wants to really do it right and get a full cross countryÂ feel like MTTS 2006Â they’ll start at Miami and driveÂ to Boston to Chicago and then LA.Â Â Â Still early, guess we’ll wait for more official concrete info before making plans.