MINI COOL, MAX FUN

MINI USA owners peep a special edition Cooper at the fan weekend.

MINI USA owners peep a special edition Cooper at the fan weekend.

“You’re only supposed to blow the bloody doors off.”
Michael Caine’s memorable line from British caper classic “The Italian Job” sprung immediately to mind as devoted MINI Cooper owners gathered here for a fan appreciation weekend.
It was the last leg of the 2008 MINI Takes The States Tour that kicked off in Miami in June, then visited Boston and Chicago.
Festivities began Friday night at Jillians in Universal City Walk as the meet and greet got under way with food, drinks, games and the chance to ogle a brand new John Cooper Works MINI that was parked right in the middle of the bar.
The next morning owners rolled out for a drive along Sunset Boulevard and the Pacific Coast Highway heading to the Rosebowl, where people took part in an autocross rally, MINI test drives, more games and were treated to a concert by American alt rockers Vertical Horizon. The Pasadena stadium re-hosted the group on Sunday for more of the same and a send-off barbecue.
Inaugurated in 2006, the MTTS drew more than 6,000 MINI enthusiasts to join in a 15-day, 19 state, cross-country road trip from Monterrey, Calif., to Lime Rock, Conn. The 3,904 mile route included major event stops in Las Vegas, Dallas, Nashville, Washington and New York.
“Mini owners absolutely love their cars,” said MTTS event organizer Kevin Connolly. “It’s a beautiful thing because they appeal to men and women, young and old, all different races and religions. It’s a unique thing to be part of this Mini culture.”
A testament to that is Kimberly Smith, the City Clerk for Cupertino, a suburban city in Santa Clara County, who went shopping for a car in a VW dealership, but ended up falling for the 60’s road icon.
“I was waiting to take a test drive and the car wasn’t quite ready, so I saw a second-hand Mini and asked the salesman if I could just test-drive it,” said Smith. “I loved it and went straight to a Mini dealership and now I’m the proud owner of a 2005 Cooper S.”
Meanwhile, oncology specialist Dr. Cary Presant and his wife, Sheila, reckon they own one of the only Mini’s in the world to sport checker board seats. The couple cooed like teenagers when talking about their 2006 Mini Convertible, painted Chilli Red with White Racing Stripes.
“My granddaughter loves it when we visit because she can’t get enough of the car,” said Presant. They also own an Acura and motorhome.
“There is an unbelievable sense of community which comes along with the car, added Cary. “Owners wave at each other, and continually chat about their experiences with the car, the renewed love of driving and touring, and the fun individualizing the car to their own tastes.”
The last word goes to Andrew “Aggro” Ross, an Australian native and current president of the Las Vegas Mini Club.
“It’s cool, distinctive, fun,” he said, “and you don’t have to slow down to corner.”

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