The MINI GP World Challenge
Two “crazy” Italians embark on a madcap dash around the world in a limited edition MINI GP
“I always wanted to drive around the world,” says Oscar, “and what better idea could I have had than to make the trip in my GP? It’s funny; the GP is not the ideal car for a trip around the world. It is not the right size, it is not a 4X4, not a SUV, nor a motorbike, but in the end it turned out that the MINI GP was exactly the right car to do the World Challenge.”
Of course, taking off on a madcap dash around the world without a purpose is lunacy, and in no way can any one call Oscar a lunatic. His trip is multi-faceted. To begin with, Oscar wants to return his Bertone-built MINI GP – No.1922 – back to the gates of the factory where it was “born.” The 2,000 GPs assembled at the Bertone factory were the last vehicles to be built there before the august Italian coachbuilder closed its manufacturing division. To Oscar, a native of the Turin region of Italy where Bertone is headquartered, this is unthinkable. Apart from the hundreds and hundreds of skilled artisans now laid off, for Turin to be without an automotive company is unthinkable. It is Oscar’s hope that his trip, that finishes at the gates of the now shuttered Bertone complex, will call attention to the plight of the stricken company.
“By bringing attention to Bertone’s prestigious name and capabilities,” says Oscar, “perhaps it will help assure that in the future Bertone will once again become a vibrant part of the local economy.”
A second, more personal reason for the journey is to bring attention to and raise funds for the fight against cancer. Oscar’s father lost his battle with cancer this past March and it is Oscar’s dream to see this scourge wiped from the face of the earth within his lifetime.
Still, from tragedy good things often come and sad though the death of Oscar’s father is, it was because of it that Oscar met and became friends with Salvatore Carobene, his co-driver for the trip.
“We became friends after the death of the father of Oscar,” says Salvatore. “I took care of the funeral and from there was born a beautiful friendship. He asked me along as the co-driver and navigator for the most 'long distance crossing ever carried out by a Mini Cooper.”
With such noble purposes as the basis for Oscar’s trip across Russia (and eventually, around the world), the resources of MC2 were put into play and we agreed to become one of his primary sponsors and help him find additional sponsors to help out with gear and equipment. We put the word out and within a couple of weeks, Oscar had support from Mini Mania, Minspeed, OutMotoring, Sparco, Dunlop, Texaco, Tire Rack, Enkei Wheel, Thule, WiPac, StileBertone and NW MINI (Tacoma, WA) where final preparations to the car will be made.
On Their Way
Organizing an around the world trip in just two-and-a-half months is not easy undertaking for anyone. Oscar had to prepare the car, get customs clearances for the vehicle, arrange air freight for his vehicle, update his passport, get the gear installed in the car, plan the exact route he will be driving and attend to a hundred other detail. But he managed to get it all done, arriving in Tacoma, Washington just three days before his scheduled departure date of August 15th.
The car was whisked into NW MINI for maintenance and the installation of late arriving parts and then, early on departure day, Oscar and Salavatore loaded the MINI GP on board a Korean Air Lines air cargo plane. Later than afternoon, our two adventurers climbed aboard a passenger liner, headed for Seoul, where they would pick up their car and begin the drive across Russia.
If you are interested in how well our dynamic duo fared, and whether the MINI GP made the trip across Russia unscathed, be sure to read about their journey in our January-February 2009 issue. God Speed, Oscar and Salvatore!
In the belly of the beast, Salvatore (l) and Oscar pose for a quick photo while making last minute checks to the car aboard the Korean Air Lines cargo plane.