Posted: 31 Jul 2008 02:25 PM CDT

The Phil Wicks MINI Driving Academy and the North American MINI Cooper Challenge are coming off of one of the most successful events in the company’s still young history. At Virginia International Raceway on July 21, over sixty students participated in the FLOW MINI of Winston-Salem sponsored Phil Wicks MINI Driving Academy event The Phil Wicks MINI Driving Academy introduces new as well as seasoned MINI Cooper owners and drivers to the world-class handling and performance capabilities of the iconic MINI Cooper and MINI Cooper “S” automobiles. In addition to the Phil Wicks MINI Driving Academy, organizers hosted another round of the North American MINI Cooper SOLO 1 Challenge as well as the North American MINI Cooper Challenge competition series.

“I am so pleased with the turn-out for this event,” commented Phil Wicks. “I am thrilled that so many enthusiasts were able to enjoy the benefits of learning to be better and more alert performance drivers after a day with our instructors and classroom instruction.”

The Phil Wicks MINI Driving Academy has grown to become the world’s best known and a leading authority on MINI Cooper performance driving. In recent weeks, with the continued increase in fuel costs, Phil Wicks has begun expanding his curriculum to include special input and advice on how to achieve better gas mileage and conservation with a car that is already one of the category leaders in mpg mileage capabilities. This new emphasis will provide MINI owners a greater appreciation of the performance aspects blended with the economy that MINI Coopers have always been noted for. Now owners looking for performance as well as economy can find valuable input and instruction from Phil Wicks MINI Driving Academy.

The North American MINI Cooper SOLO 1 Challenge featured a solid entry of 28 MINIs ready to take the challenge of competing on the twisty VIR racetrack, one at a time, to achieve the fastest timed lap. In order to compete, all drivers must have had adequate performance driving training such as attending one of Phil Wicks MINI Driving Academy events or similar performance driving instruction. Drivers were grouped into individual classes ranging from stock to race prepared. Class winners were Group 1: Ed McAleer, Group 2: Jason Stencler, Group 3: Craig Clarke, Group 4: Chris Thompson and Group 5: Clark Brownstein.

In addition, round 3 of the North American MINI Cooper Challenge was staged in a unique, never-before-tried format that was met with great enthusiasm. Billed as a “high speed pursuit”, the eligible eight entries were staged based upon their fasted time posted in the SOLO 1 challenge, with the fastest starting first and each entry thereafter placed on the grid by their progressively slower lap times. Then from the traditional standing start, each entrant was given the green flag at 3-second intervals to “chase” the car ahead. Therefore, there was no actual fender to fender racing competition. However, each entry was given a target time based upon their fastest SOLO 1 lap (muliplied by 8 to represent 8 laps). Finishing positions at the conclusion of the 8-lap event were based on how much they had improved upon their target time. In this unique format, each entrant had a chance for victory even if he/she had not scored the fastest elapsed time. Phil Wicks indicated that future North American MINI Cooper Challenge events might again adopt this unique competition format. The top three drivers of the High Speed Pursuit were in 1st, Clark Brownstein, 2nd Chris Sneed and 3rd Chris Thompson.

Flow MINI of Winston-Salem, NC was the event sponsor. Official sponsors of the Phil Wicks MINI Driving Academy and North American MINI Cooper Challenge are Mini Mania, the official race parts supplier, Precision Motoring of Nashville, TN, Hendrick Automotive Group, MavTV, ALTA MINI Performance and the Minnie Pearl Cancer Foundation is the official charity.

The next event on the schedule is the MINI of Charleston, SC sponsored Roebling Road Phil Wicks MINI Driving Academy on August 9 and 10 In Savannah, GA. For more information, visit