Hooked on MINIs presented by Mini Mania & Hooked on Driving!
An event sponsored by Mini Mania that was almost a “not happening” experience, turned into a very special day. For 2 days before this “MINIs only driving experience, the rain was constant and for many of us it was actually snow! The Mini Mania tow rig was 6” deep in snow on the actual morning of the event. As this event required pre-registration, those of us that had made a commitment were for the most part dedicated to arrive at the track regardless of a weather forecast. As the track is typically at least a couple hour drive for most of us, it was simply a matter of faith that the forecast for only a ‘few showers’ would be worst case. In my situation, the decision was not if I should chance the weather but rather do I take the chance to take the big rig (covered in snow) or perhaps simply hop into the 2005 MINI Convertible. After-all, the event was to be a driving experience and not a race. No real reason to take the Mini Mania race MINI except for testing.
When Friday morning arrived and I found no new snow on the ground, it became too tempting; it was time to test the rig in the snow! Within 20 minutes of leaving the drive way all the snow was gone and thus it proved a great decision. At least thus far, as I probably would not drive a race car on a wet race track even at slow speeds. Two and a half hours later and not only had I not seen a drop of rain enroute, once at the track - not even a cloud in the sky. A great day with perfect temperatures was sure to be in store for all of us! One of the key features of this type of experience is provide an ultra-safe opportunity for a driver to use their car to better understand both its capabilities and your ability to enjoy it! These events make a major effort to avoid any connection with a race. It is rather simply a driving experience that can actually be assured to be safer simply because it is held on a closed course.
The actual event experience began a week or so before the date at the track. This “Hooked on Driving” organization has a fantastic methodology in insure every first time participants will arrive at the track with a great foundation for what experience they will have for the day. The Hooked On Driving’s “Getting on Track” DVD is mailed to first timer in plenty of time for review and even potential study prior to the event. This second generation video provides:
1- 50 minutes of performance driving demonstrations, skills instruction and great advice
2- Aerial shots of what a “late apex is all about”
3- Tips from BMW tuner Steve Dinan on car preparation for performance driving
4- Daytona 24 hour winner Randy Pobst does an in-car lesson in a Mazdaspeed6 on how to learn the line
5- Finally! A close-up view, and clear explanation of “heel and toe” shifting done in a Roush Mustang Stage III
6- Awesome footage of sports cars on track, including the Stillen G35 Supercharged Coupe running in a controlled environment during a “track day”
Another great feature of this organization is the level of driving coaches available during the event. All the participants are divided into groups according to experience levels. For many drivers this may be only the latest in dozens of events were they have experienced the joys of driving while others are not even sure if they will enjoy it! The coaching level is such that EVERY first timer will have an experienced driving coach with them in the passenger seat, every time they are on the course. These same coaches are available to all groups - even the most experienced - as many of them are current road racers with many, many years of experience in all kinds of cars. As it turned out for this event, the number of people with varied experience was about equal. Thus at no time were they short of experienced coaches nor was the course ever so crowded that one could feel any concerns about how close another car might be. It was a great balance! The make-up of the various groups was also very similar in age and background, with the young and old, male and female all represented well. It is not uncommon to find a husband and wife sharing the same family car in different run groups. The vast majority of the MINIs at the event were very much a stock car with few expectations. While a few entrants brought spare performance tires most all simply drove the MINI just the same as they drive it everyday! The best of all worlds to better understand your car and your ability and how to translate this to any everyday driving experience.
One of the other great features of this group is that they limit the number of participants such that time available on the course is more a factor of running out of gas or simple personal energy level than a crowded schedule. It was not long after the catered lunch provided by the organizers that a number of participants were seen to be just watching their friends practice while they caught their breath.
Overall it was a fantastic day where everyone learned to enjoy the driving of their MINI just that little bit more! I would strongly encourage any of you that might have this type of opportunity to give it a try!
If you would like to see what this experience is all about before even registering for any event, we are now excited to be able to offer the great video DVD: Hooked On Driving’s “Getting on Track” DVD- order part number DVD007 here!
To see more track photos, you can also go to GotBlueMilk.com