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Old 06-07-2004, 08:32 AM
SLang's Avatar
SLang SLang is offline
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Location: Huntington Beach, CA
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 189
Mein Auto: Street: Porsche 996
Racing the MINI

Thanks to Mike Mills of NABR, I was given an opportunity to race a MINI Cooper in this past weekend's NABR race at Buttonwillow. After driving tons of different RWD cars, I was a little skeptical of racing a 115 HP, FWD car. I was wrong, it was a blast!

In qualifying, I outpaced a couple of cars in the BMW group, which was more than I expected considering I was by far the most underpowered car in the field. This being my first time in a FWD car, I did a little reading the night before I left, about FWD technique. It's mostly common sense; brake (if required), turn, back on the gas, understeer, lift, rear end comes out, and throttle steer around the corner, get back on the gas hard and carry as much speed through the corner as possible, because you ain't gonna find it going down the next straight!

The car was set up really well for throttle steer. All I did was play with pressures to get the balance where I wanted it.

We raced with NASA's CMC (Camaro/Mustang Challenge) group, and we did a split start. After about 5 or 6 laps the faster CMC cars caught me and passed with ease. I had an E36 M3 on my butt who couldn't get past, and as the slower CMC cars caught us, they couldn't get by. I was way, way faster in the corners but their V8's allowed them to catch me on the straights. Fun stuff holding them off.

This isn't a shot of me driving, but it's the car I drove:

NABR is trying to get this class off the ground on the West Coast. I can only imagine how much fun it would have been with 5, 10, 20 other MINI's in the race. I don't think they'll run with 13/13, as the cars will be so equal that it'll be impossible to pass without a little contact, as long as you don't make contact your race strategy. The MINI's body panels are cheap anyway. The modifications allowed are relatively minimal, and I believe the entire package to make the car race ready is around $4,300. If you're thinking of getting into racing, or you want to race in a competitive class at a low cost, the MINI Challenge might be the class for you.

More info: http://www.northamericanbimmerracing...IChallenge.htm
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Old 06-07-2004, 08:45 AM
Galun Galun is offline
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Location: SF Bay Area
Join Date: Aug 2002
Posts: 1,836
Mein Auto: Cars
Someone told me about it up here in the Bay Area.... It's a Chinese guy who owns Conversion Motorworks in Oakland.... Johnny something? I went there to pick up my driving gloves (his shop is one of the few sparco dealers in the area I believe) and I saw two mini racers there. It is indeed a relatively cheap and fun way to get started in racing.
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Old 06-07-2004, 08:50 AM
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Andy Andy is offline
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Location: USA
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,586
Mein Auto: E30, M3, 540i
Thanks for the write up!!

I've been nagging my wife for months now, to get a MINI. I'm trying to talk her into the 2005 MINI Cooper S with the optional LSD. I'd really like for us to use this car as the husband and wife team at the autocross events and to take it out on the track with the CCA. I think if I can just get her to drive one, it will seal the deal!!
- 1987 BMW 325is
- 2002 BMW M3
- 2003 BMW 540i Sport

Last edited by Andy; 06-07-2004 at 11:08 AM.
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