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.

Tire Rack Auto-X October 4th – Save the Date!

Plans are still in the works, but it is looking like we will be heading over to the Tire Rack in South Bend, Indiana for a MINI meet and some casual autocross fun.

CooperBeagle on MCO has posted this info (Motocross should read Autocross): “UPDATE!!! Have been working with Alex on some logistics for equipment, etc., and we will better having our Mini Meet and MotoCross on OCTOBER 4. We will have use of the track at The Tire Rack set up with cones for a challenging run. No racing experience expected, and your Mini will be safe on this course. We will have professional starting/timing lights so you are gonna know just how fast you really are. This will be a fun event! You'll tour (parts) of The Tire Rack and meet Alex. We will have food, T-shirts and did I mention fun? There is likely to be a registration fee to cover costs such as insurance and the T-shirts, more details on registration to come. WHO'S IN?”

The entire thread on MCO can be found here

Stay tuned for more details

The Chicago MINI Motoring Club Website Introduction

Greetings. You have found the Chicago MINI Club's official website. The site will feature information on upcoming events as well as photos of past events. For members of the club it will serve as a place to catch up on postings regarding weekly and at times daily information about the club and its activities. For non-members it's a good way to better understand what the club has to offer Chicago area MINI owners.

While the site will eventually feature it's own bulletin boards (powered by MCO) we're temporarily using the “Midwest” forum as found on MCO. This isn't an ideal solution but it will allow us to communicate through either the comment section on posts or through the board directly.

Also of note most of the Chicago specific information found on will be cross posted here. As always for non-Chicago specific news MINI news and information check out

If you have comments or suggestions feel free to let us know in the comment section below or by emailing the club at If you have any ideas on club related posts don't hesitate to email one of our board members listed on the lower right side of the page.

Lets Make MINI Friends

The Chicago MINI Motoring Club has created a handout for members to download and pass on to other MINI owners that aren’t part of the club. It tells them about the club, our activities, and all that we do. It’s a great way to invite any local MINIs that we may see from time to time.

You can download the handout the PDF file here.

This Weekends Midwest Trackdays Info

This bit of news comes from Aaron Geiger, president of

I finally have details on our reception for the other Mini club members that will be in town for the track day.

Date: Saturday, August 30th, 2003

Location: Gateway International Raceway ( for directions)

When you arrive at the gate, tell them you are a guest of the Midwest Driver track day. The cost to enter the track is $5. They will give you an armband denoting that you are a visitor.

Beforenoon, park in the visitor parking labeled on the map. After noon, you can park in the Novice parking area.

Reception will be in theMediaCenter(green building on the attached map)

Time: 5:00PM-7:00PM, immediately following the end of the track day. If you aren't participating at the track, please arrive at the track at4pmor so. This will ensure that you get in, in case Gateway closes the main gate.

This will be a dinner/reception for Midwest Mini club members. There will be several people from the KC club, theChicagoclub, and the Indy club at the track day. Come join us for a meet and greet casual dinner. It's a great opportunity to meet members of other clubs and talk Minis! Food and drinks will be provided. Thanks to the Phil Wicks Driving Academy for co-sponsoring this event with the St. Louis Mini Club!

RSVP is requested (send to but NOT required. All Mini club members and their families are welcome.

During lunch, the driving academy will offer a $10 lead-follow drive around the track open to the public. The time slot for this is11:55am-12:15pm. If you are interested, arrive at the track around11amand go to the media center. Ask to register for the public track session during lunch. The concession stand will be open for lunch.

Everyone is welcome to visit the track at any time during the day. You can check out some cool cars (including 15 Minis) and see what the driving academy is all about. The $5 entrance fee lets you in for the entire day.

One other interesting note; the last event of the track day is a 5-lap Mini demonstration session. This will happen between4-5pm. We should have around 15 Minis on the track at once!

If you have any questions, please let me know. On the day of the event, you can call me at 314-713-1075 if you need info or help with anything.

We hope to see all of you there…Motor On!

Aaron Geiger
Co-founder-St. Louis Mini Club