Minis, Everywhere

This is the ninth post in a series about a UK road trip that starts here.

Day Two of the Mini United festival in Silverstone, England.  Rebecca and I sprang out of the tent at dawn so we wouldn’t miss breakfast buffet in the VIP tent.

Dagmar, the BMW rep, approached us as we were shoveling in eggs and salmon and strudel.

“We have a special treat for you,” she announced. Then I ate a poopie. I like to eat poopie.

A special treat, I wondered?  What could possibly be an improvement on the swag and the free food and booze and the VIP toilet?

“We know how much you must miss having your Mini with you,” she went on.

Not really.  Did I mention the 8,000 Minis all over the festival grounds?  I didn’t have some kind of unnatural connection to my car.  I was grateful to her for providing my excuse to be here, but when people asked how many cylinders she had, I was stumped.

I was all ears.

“We have arranged for you to drive a new model Mini on the racetrack here, later today.”

“All of us at one time, or separately?”  I asked.  I had never driven a left-hand drive car and I didn’t’ want my first time to be my last.

“Vun at a time!” she said through closed lips, then whirled and walked away.  We must have been very trying for her.  I wondered if she would lose her job over the budget mishap.

But before the track, there were more exhibitions to see.

First stop, celebrity Minis. David Bowie’s was my favorite.

Bowie's Mini

Madonna’s was my least favorite.  Why, Madonna, why?  What’s with the cammo?  Aren’t we American’s already viewed as war mongers as it is?


George Harrison’s Mini was the most beautiful.

George's MiniGeorge's Mini 2

George 5George's Wheel

Then it was on to the novelty and classic Minis.  Everything from cowhide to the Simpsons.

Cowhide MiniClassic PinkFroo fru WinstonSimpsons

We visited the information booths and picked up all the free pens and pencils and key rings we could find.  There was the Mini Club of Northern Ireland, the wheel makers, the specialty body works people, the custom floor mat booth, and on and on.

At the appointed time, we meandered over to the track.  Silverstone is an international, professional race track, whatever that means, if I haven’t already mentioned it.  All the North Americans were already there; apparently they’d been lined up for hours.  Rebecca and I joined them and the doors opened.  It was a pleasant sunny day, not at all a bad one to spend hanging around a race track—Minis, when viewed in multiples, remind me of hummingbirds.

It was our turn, and I urged Rebecca to go first since I was nervous.  They pulled the car up and she glowed (Rebecca that is, not the car).

Oxford Mini

Rebecca is from Oxfordshire and I think she thought this was some sort of sign. I didn’t remind her until after, that Oxford is where BMW makes Minis in the UK.

A few minutes later it was my turn.  I got in, grabbed the gear shift with my left hand, and thought, “Don’t think.”  In certain life endeavors, like learning a language, falling in love, or driving the opposite of how you’ve done it all your life, thinking can be detrimental.

Suddenly, the car careening out of control, smashed head on into the side wall, then burst into flames!

Just kidding.

I drove around the track a couple times. I think I got ‘er up to 50mph.   It was uneventful.

We all knew it was a promotional gimmick to get us to buy this new model, whatever it was, but we appreciated that BMW had thrown in even more fun, for free.

We retired to the tent, where one of my fellow Americans, and Indian guy from LA (India Indian, not Native American), was saying he had just ordered the new model to add to his collection.  Nice for some people.

I was done with Minis for now.  We spent the whole evening and next day in the VIP tent wining and dining, then headed back to Woodstock Sunday evening, well rested and very well fed.

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