Our coverage of MINI United 2007 ends here but you can scroll down to the beginning to read about the entire weekend's activities.
MINI United: The Party's Over
Our two UK correspondents reflect upon their weekend at Zandvoort Circuit
Amsterdam, Netherlands (12:00 PM, Monday, 25th June) – Unlike most the other aficionados at MINI United, Neil and I have finally benefited from a good night’s sleep. Now that we are both fully refreshed from the fun, had our first decent breakfast in days and are ready for the 12-hour trip back home to England's West Midlands. Yes, a long drive back to MC2’s UK base awaits but, as we drive, we will have ample time to reflect upon the event. For the first leg, Neil takes the wheel of our MINI Cooper Diesel and as we head out home, the authorities in Amsterdam, Belgium and France are preparing themselves for severe violations of their road-traffic laws…
1:00 PM – Amsterdam has been one of the most challenging cities we have both driven through, but we are now quite used to its quirks after travelling from our hotel to Zandvoort each day for MINI United. The city is really beautiful and the residents seem to be big fans of both British and American cars. We saw a few classic Minis, an Austin Landcrab, several classic Chevrolets, a Buick and a Lincoln on our travels. The Dutch, it seems, are really fond of their cars as was evidenced by the passionate, local MINI owners we met at the event.
4:00 PM – Hello to all the MC2 web watchers! It’s Neil typing now; Rob is behind the wheel and we are parked in a massive traffic queue somewhere in Belgium. We think we are heading the right way but the last road sign we saw has cast a doubt on that idea. As you can see from the pictures we’ve plastered all over this site, Rob has been out photographing, so I have been holding down the fort at the MC2 pavilion. If you could stereotype a crowd, MINI owners all appear to be a really nice bunch of people, no matter which nation they were from. There was not one single person who I wouldn’t have gladly welcomed back to our pavilion and, in many instances, did just that.
Any passers-by who happened to spot me running in circles around the MC2 pavilion can blame Rob for leaving me whilst he went off to increase his already vast library of pictures. Robs idea of “back in five minutes mate and you can go to the toilet then” was classic understatement, much to the detriment of my bladder!
7:00 PM – It’s Rob again. We are now driving though France and have just gotten lost. The Channel tunnel cannot be far now; it just a matter of choosing which turn to take. We will try to update you on our progress when we load the MINI onto the train for the trip under the channel.
8:15 PM – As the price for diesel in the UK is nudging £1 per-litre, we thought it sensible to fill the MINI’s fuel tank at Calais and take advantage of the cost saving. Neil is now driving towards London on the M25 and we have been reminiscing about MINI United 2007. There was certainly a lot going on to keep MINI-philes busy throughout the weekend but we felt, and it was mentioned by many of our American friends, that you really had to bring your own car over to fully enjoy the weekend.
Nonetheless, there was always something going on and, although Neil and I did not get the chance to test-drive new MINIs, drive on the circuit in our MINI Cooper D (as it was permanently parked in-front of the MC2 pavilion) or even have a go at karting, we heard stories from those that did partake which made us a little envious. There were opportunities to pull a MINI, challenges to beat the MINI Pitstop team at changing a wheel and playing skittles with a MINI tyre (which proves the organisers have fully exercised their imaginations). If viewing events was more your thing, there was plenty to choose from, including perusing classic and new MINIs on display and following the thrills of the MINI Challenge.
We were lucky with the weather. Despite pessimistic forecasts, which almost certainly dissuaded many from coming, Friday and Saturday were dry days, albeit with varying temperatures – Neil and I were lucky; our MC2 weather-resistant jackets (available in the MC2 webstore) kept us warm. Our luck ran out on Saturday afternoon, when the rain came…and stayed – but luckily, it remained dry for the MINI Challenge. As one Russian MINI fan remarked as she loaded up her in the pouring rain, “The Netherlands is crying because we are leaving.”
Although Neil spent his entire time either at the MC2 pavilion, restaurant or the toilet, he was upset that the “MINI CareProducts show,” featuring nubile, scantily dressed girls washing MINIs, was cancelled on Sunday. That was undoubtedly his favourite event, mainly because he likes cute birds and it was one of the few things he could see clearly from the MC2 pavilion. He admitted this morning that at night he was counting said girls jumping over MINIs, instead of sheep jumping over gates to get to sleep. My favourite event was Russ Swift’s awesome stunt show, and we would like to share once more another of his amazing performances with you:
OK, so we have talked about the weather a lot this weekend, but we Brits also love to complain and although visitors did enjoy MINI United overall, there were a few niggles. There were problems with the catering. We found the food was tasty but insubstantial and expensive. There were also criticisms about the show’s general organisation including comments made to us from those who were disappointed that they had to pre-book for some activities. Many people also told us that they had expected a sneak-peek at the new MINI Clubman, something that would have made the MINI United even more unforgettable for so many die-hard MINI fans.
11:50 PM – After 12 hours on the road, we have finally arrived home! A man's home is his castle and are we glad to see ours. Before kipping down for the night we thought we’d leave you with a final comment about our trusty steed, a 2007 MINI Cooper Diesel. Not only has she managed to hold all of MC2 's equipment (OK, we did have to take out the rear seat!) but it has coped admirably, whether performing U-turns in Amsterdam when Rob found he was reading the map upside-down or doing 130km/h (in the wrong direction!) on a French freeway. This was the first time we had spent any real time with the R56 MINI and we must say that overall, we were impressed. We a planning a full report on the car, as well as detailed coverage of MINI United in the next issue (#10). Don’t miss it! Well, it has been fun. And now to sleep, perchance to dream.
Rob Marshall and Neil Jefferies
Your MC2 team in England
[Photo: Thornbury Castle by Adrian Pingstone http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Arpingstone.)]
Two-wheeled wonder, Russ Swift, demonstrates his driving skills on You Tube:
MC2 had a pavilion at the event, made lots of new friends and received a lot of street cred. Rob and Neil worked their proverbial asses off, holding down the fort at the MC2 pavilion and reporting on the events going on all around them. The life of a motoring journalist may be fun, but it is a tough job sometimes....
Unlike most the other aficionados at MINI United, Neil and I have finally benefited from a good night’s sleep. Now that we are both fully refreshed from the fun, had our first decent breakfast in days and are ready for the 12-hour trip back home to England's West Midlands. Yes, a long drive back to MC2’s UK base awaits but, as we drive, we will have ample time to reflect upon the event. For the first leg, Neil takes the wheel of our MINI Cooper Diesel and as we head out home, the authorities in Amsterdam, Belgium and France are preparing themselves for severe violations of their road-traffic laws…
With DJ Stephen Quarré providing the acoustic entertainment, visitors to MINI United were keen to get-behind-the wheel and book themselves into as many driving activities as they could. Naturally, it would be a pity to miss driving around this famous racing circuit and the length of the booking queues, whether driving one’s own MINI, test-driving a new car and even taking a MINI Driver’s training course, confirmed the public’s determination...
This afternoon, MC2 reader and MINI Nut, Rob Apon, was been given a big surprise by MINI. He was born in Holland, though he now lives in the States, and today is his birthday. Rob is also a hard core car nut and MINI fan, so to celebrate his birthday MINI-style, he arranged to have his own MINI transported from his home in Los Angeles to MINI United. Although the process was not entirely trouble-free, Rob did manage to get himself and his MINI to Zandvoort Circuit in time for the year's biggest MINI bash
This is the main event here at MINI United and the crowds have proven their loyalty by sticking it out despite the downpours. Thankfully, the storms broke long enough for a a full 30-minutes of exciting and action-packed racing. Although a few cars were damaged in the spirit of the event, the commentators praised the drivers for their gentlemanly conduct on the track...
After having had a thoroughly good time enjoying last night's entertainment, it is not surprising that Neil and I are suffering this morning; not due to any excess, mind you, but a shortage – of course, I refer to sleep. But who wants to rest while MINI United is on? Well, quite a few actually...