Last Minute Track Time

For anyone who missed the Phil Wicks event in St. Louis, there is a smaller event at Putnam Park on Monday, September 15th. Four members of the St. Louis Area Lotus Lovers who had pre-reserved (and pre-paid!) are now unable to make it, so that opens up four spots for people who might be interested. Phil Wicks and a couple members of his regular crew will be there, and from what I understand it will be a bit more laid back than the regular Driving School that he does, but with all of the same fundamentals and ability to receive instruction from the pros.

Anyone interested to go should contact Mark Pfeffer at as soon as possible, and he will put you in touch with the right folks! Also, if you do end up joining up, please post here!

For a wee bit more info, check out:

South Bend MINI AutoX and Rally

Our friends in the South Bend area and Tire Rack are holding an Autocross event on October 4th. This is a great way to get your MINI out on the track for a minimal fee, check out the largest tire seller in the world, and meet MINI owners from all over the midwest. Our Chicago group will be tentatively leaving from the Planetarium at 7:00am – the same place we met for our July Rally.

You can check out all details at this website and below:

October 4, 2003.? We will start signing in drivers for the autocross at 9:00AM.

We will meet at The Tire Rack, 7101 Vorden Pkwy, South Bend, IN 46628, [for directions click here].

This will be a laid back style race.? Most, if not all, drivers will not be experienced.? An autocross race is a chance to test your skills and your car’s abilities on a track with cones creating the twisty turns.? One car on the track at a time, each competes against the clock.? [click here to learn more about autocross racing]

Road Rally
In the afternoon, we will form a line with all of our Minis and take to the roads.? We will have planned route, taking us through the twisty-est roads we can find, (this is Indiana) on our way to the campus of Notre Dame.? There we will have many opportunities for pictures.

The Tire Rack
Our event will begin at this state-of-the-art world headquarters of this supplier of performance equipment.? Alex, as our host, will arrange informative tours.

Cost to participate is $20 per Mini.? This covers all equipment, track and insurance for the autocross.? To register, print the registration form, [go to registration], and mail with your check to: South Bend Mini Club, 1501 Ironwood Drive, South Bend, Indiana, 46635.? You must register by September 20. [In the unlikely event of an insufficient number of registrations,? the autocross will not be held and registration fees will be returned.]

We have had shirts professionally designed for this event.? They can be pre-ordered with your registration for $10 each.? The design features a retro look and is dated for this event. [t-shirt order form]

Bring your picnic style lunch.? Some snacks and beverages will also be available.? Following the Road Rally, those who want, will gather for dinner at Hacienda Mexican Restaurant, at the historic 100 Center, for their famous Wet Burritos and Frozen Margaritas.

*You do not have to be a member of the Chicago MINI Motoring Club to attend this event.

The CMMC Baseball Rally Wrap-up

I'd like to first thank everyone for coming out – what a great time! I'd also like to thank both Knauz and International MINI for donating our giveaways and for being great hosts. And finally on a personal note I'd also like to thank Robby for letting me use his grill 🙂

If anyone has photos that they'd like to share with the rest of the club please email them to so we can get something online soon. Watch this space!

Baseball Rally Details

Update: I've just been informed that the game is Sold Out! Should be a great time!

I wanted to remind everyone going to the baseball rally on Sunday of our schedule:

7:30am Gather at Knauz
8:00am Leave Knauz for Milwaukee
9:00am/9:30am Arrive at International MINI
10:15am Leave for the Stadium
10:30 to 12:30 MINI Tailgate Party
12:30pm/12:40pm Enter stadium for the game

It looks like we'll have giveaways from both Knauz MINI and International MINI.

Remember it's much cheaper to bring your own food to grill (or simply ready to eat) before the game so feel free to bring tailgate goodies, an FRS radio (if you have one), your best MINI apparel, and a smile.

See everyone there!

Baseball Rally Countdown

This Sunday September 7th is the Chicago MINI Motoring Club Rally up to Miller Park in Milwaukee!

There are only a couple of tickets left if you have not already signed up. Contact or for info.

Here’s the original info:


We now have yet another Chicago event to announce! But this time
it will include our fellow motorers from the north.

What Type of event is this: This is a drive to Miller Park, in Milwaukee, for a huge
MINI tailgating party, and to see the Milwaukee Brewers vs. the Chicago

Who can join us: This drive is open to all MINI car owners
in the Midwest, and anyone who rides along in a MINI.

When: Sunday, September 7th. The Chicago portion of the
group will be leaving as a group from Knauz MINI in Lake Bluff at
8:00 am. We'll drive to International Auto in Milwaukee and
meet up with the Milwaukee and Madison MINI groups. We will leave
there @ 10:15 and motor to Miller Park. Milwaukee and Madison MINIs
should be at International Auto no later than 9:45 am. Miller
Park opens between 10:00 and 10:30 am. We must all arrive
together in order to park together
. No organized drive is planned
post game, so far.

Where: Miller Park is the Brewers wonderful new baseball
park. One of the best features of the park is that it has an retractable
roof, so we will not be rained out. The huge open parking area, food
pavilion, rest rooms, and hot coals disposal sites, will be ideal for
tailgating. The parking areas are also patrolled by Milwaukee County
Sheriffs during the game, so our MINIs will be well looked after.

Costs and Tickets: We have reserved a block of seats for
this event, and tickets can be purchased thru the ticket listing below.
The cost of parking is $6.00 per MINI. The Baseball game tickets are
$12.00 each
. We have a set amount of tickets and they are
going quickly so please place your orders as soon as possible.
No game tickets will be available from us on the day of the drive. To get
tickets, you may reserve them by e-mailing
. We will return e-mail you, same day, with confirmation and payment info.
Payment will be cash or check.

Directions (from Chicago): From Knauz we'll take Route
41 north to 120. West on 120 to I94 North. I94 North to Milwaukee
and the 894 West bypass. 894 West to 45 North. 45 North to National
Ave, exit 2a. Keep left at ramp fork and turn left onto National ave
(west). Turn right on Cleveland ave and go to 108th street (2 to 3
blocks). Turn right on 108th street. International will be a couple blocks
down, on the right side at 2400 108th street.

Giveaways:Knauz MINI and International MINI will be
raffling off prizes so come prepared for MINI trivia.

Things to bring: Tailgating is always a great time, and it's
even more fun in a MINI. Pack your boot with all your picnic goodies.
Food, drink, and a mini charcoal grill to cook whatever you bring.
Tailgating is an event. People typically cook everything from hot dogs to
gourmet meals at Miller Park. Pack your mini folding chairs, or sit in the
shade of your boot door. MINI drivers are always friendly, so you may
find someone willing to share a grill. Miller Park has hot coal and tailgate
trash disposal site everywhere on the parking areas.

You may also want to bring an FRS radio to communicate on the
drive there. And of course don't forget to wear your best MINI apparel.
Remember you will need $6.00 for parking and stadium cuisine can be
rather expensive so make sure to bring plenty to eat for the
tailgating. Of course the full line of Miller brewery and it's subsidiaries is
served in the stadium.

If all goes according to plan this could be one of the larger MINI
events in the midwest this year. See you there!

More Thoughts on the Midwest Driver Trackdays

Saturday, August 30th, 2003 was my first day at the track. I attended Phil Wick's Driving Academy at Gateway International Speedway just north of St. Louis.

Wow. I'm still blown away by it a day later. It was really an amazing experience. There was a group of about a dozen MINIs in the novice class with me, and whenever it was track time, our group went out together (with the addition of a beatiful Cobra and a couple of Miatas).

I don't think that I can really accurately put into words how much fun I had. I was really blown away on many different levels. I'll just conclude with some random impressions that I have had in the last 24 hours:

  • The MINI is a flat out blast to drive. I couldn't really believe how well it handled and what it was capable of. It does what you want it to do, period. Sure there are some areas which could use improvement, but all in all it is a very powerful and responsive automobile.
  • MEMO to all Mod-heads: Forget the mods for now. You don't need really need them that much on the street, and MINIs are serious beasts to be reckoned with on the track in their stock form. Save your money and spend it on track time, and especially on a good driving school. Sorry to join the herds that have said this before, but the best $200 mod for you car really *is* driving school.
  • OK. So you twisted my arm. Yes, I really want a firmer anti-sway bar, but I'm in no hurry. And good GOD do I need some new tires. I've heard over and over again what crap the Pirellis (or Dunlops or whatever) are, and I'm now on the bandwagon for that as well. One instructor in the car with me shouted as we screeched through one turn, “These tires are PIGS!” Truer words have never been spoken. And yeah, coilovers or just lower springs would be nice, but I stress again, there ain't a whole lot of roll in these babies. They're nice right out of the box.
  • Driving at speed is something that is really counter-intuitive in many respects. It seems incredibly odd that the most dangerous thing that you can do in many situations is to hit your brakes! My point here is that those of us who like driving fast typically have a lot to learn, and contrary to “TF&TF”, I really don't think that it can be learned on “da streetz.”
  • Never underestimate ANY car, regardless of looks and personal prejudices. The car that impressed me most on the track was **drumroll please** a 2000 Honda Civic Si. Believe it. This guy was totally stealth. I saw the car in the morning, and I admit it, I dogged it a little. OK, I dogged it a lot. The guy was running what looked like a stock Civic with nice wheels and nothing else. He had the stock cat back! Well this guy was taking out M Coupes and Corvettes out on the track, and we couldn't believe our eyes. I was thinking there was a twin turbo jammed under the hood somewhere, but here are his actual mods: headers and an intake. Period. And uh, oh yeah, like $10,000 in suspension modifications, coilovers, control arms, sway bars, camber plates, freaking everything that could be done, period. The point here: you don't need massive HP numbers to haul. Suspension work is great, but the ability to drive (and this guy could DRIVE) is really the key.

So that's about it. Track day rules. The Phil Wicks Driving Academy rules. People: go to the track. It will create grins that you didn't think that your face was capable of making. It will make you a better driver. It will make you love your MINI oh-so-much more. It will make you forget about your Stumble (or whatever silly nit-picky complaint you have). In short, it will make you the happiest guy or gal on earth.