2014 has proved to be a busy year at Mini Sport! An abundance of restorations, conversions and exciting projects has further fortified our passion for classic cars, contemporary models and of course, an indisputable dedication to the Mini. We’ve been fortunate enough to attend some spectacular events across the country, sponsor some notable driving talent and support remarkable charities throughout the year; which has most importantly offered the opportunity to meet with old friends and form new friendships – all at the heart of Mini culture. Undoubtedly, 2014 has brought us a great deal of excitement with some notable achievements in and outside of the company. So with the 2015 just around the corner we figured there’s no better time to recap our highlights of 2014 and get nostalgic about the last year at Mini Sport!
The British Mini Club Events
The year got a kick-start in January with The British Mini Club’s first event of ’14 – The Mini Fair. As proud sponsors of Britsh Mini Club events we continue to show our enthusiasm and dedication to the fantastic shows exhibited across the country throughout the year. Located at Bingley Hall on Staffordshire’s County Showground, Mini Fair 2014 marked the 15th anniversary of the well-established annual event. With fantastic exhibition spaces for every model and make of Mini, the Mini Fair lead us into the year with great inspiration for winter restorations. The British Mini Club has been holding their annual Himley Hall & Park event for over 20 years and so in May we attended and sponsored the event, which proved to be the perfect introduction to the summer show season. The Himley Hall event, offers people the opportunity to showcase their Mini for judging or just for fun. In August, BMC’s largest event, Mini Fest approached. Held at the Uttoxeter Racecourse, this weekend event focuses primarily on specialists of restoration with a live arena for competitions and a camping site for weekend stays. We always enjoy the BMC events and value the positive response from other enthusiasts who attend. If you have the time next year – we really encourage you to make it down for a fun, family weekend of entertainment and exhibition!
Paddy Hopkirks 50th Anniversary
In February we were able to celebrate the great achievements of an official racing legend and long-term friend, Paddy Hopkirk. 2014 marked the 50th anniversary of Paddy’s famous win at the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally and this iconic win was commemorated with a brilliant Gala held in Northern Ireland. As official supporters of this prestigious event, we were thrilled to witness such a great turnout for the celebratory parade of Minis and classic cars, which followed Paddy in his 33EJB replica through Belfast. This striking convoy halted at the Titanic, Belfast, for the official Gala to commence. We were able to promote our Paddy Hopkirk line and debut the limited edition 50th anniversary merchandise to committed fans of Paddy and the Mini. Following a memorable day for all, the funds raised at the Gala were generously contributed to two great charities in association with Paddy Hopkirk. These charities were ‘Skidz Motor Education’ and the ‘Integrated Education Fund’. In total the Gala raised £55,000 which was split between these two great causes.
We have continued to support Skidz with the sales of Paddy Hopkirk Memorabilia, which provides motor vehicle study courses for young people between the ages of 13 and 19. The charity aims to help disadvantaged young people who run the risk of becoming out of education, employment or training. Students helped through this charity have gone on to obtain apprenticeships and pursue careers in the motor industry.
Leon Wightman and Mini Se7en
Launched in 1966, the Mini Se7en racing club has become increasingly popular amongst the Mini Community. Excellent performance and affordability makes the Mini Se7en races a great event for both drivers and spectators a-like. Following a visit from Team AL Motorsport for repairs and bodywork earlier in the year, we decided to back one of their drivers, Leon Wightman as he entered into the 47th season of Mini Se7en. Finishing at 10th in the previous season, the AL Motorsport team upgraded Leon’s Mini with a Selby Engine and a new Electronic Control Unit (ECU) alongside a Race technology dash and DL1 Data Logger. Leon raced at various courses as part of the competition including Castle Combe, Brands Hatch, Cadwell Park, Donnigton and Croft between April and September of 2014. Despite some issues, Leon eventually finished 4th in the season. A great rise in position since the previous year and an all-round positive for Leon, Mini Sport and Team AL Motorsport. We look forward to seeing Leon race again next season!
Cooper Car Company
When approached by old-friend, Mike Cooper about the possibility of re-launching ‘Cooper Car Company’ as an official brand we jumped at the chance and in June of 2014, the brand was launched in association with Mini Sport. Inspired by the first Cooper garage, established by Mikes iconic Grandfather and Father, Charles and John Cooper, the brand aimed to revive and restore the original aesthetic and authenticity for classic Cooper parts. A range of Cooper products were launched alongside the brand with everything from interior and exterior accessories to complete conversion kits and memorabilia, available on an international scale. We’re all very proud to be part of this continuous project and the only official UK agents for a brand, which is packed not only with remarkable history but a unique background of exemplary motorsport heritage.
National Mini Cooper Day at Beaulieu
The significant re-launch of the ‘Cooper Car Company’ ran concurrent with the prestigious Mini Cooper Register event, theNational Mini Cooper Day at Beaulieu. This annual event, which aims to celebrate every Mini Cooper since ’61 paid great commemoration to the 50th anniversaries for both the Monte Carlo Rally and The Mini Moke Clubs’ original and iconic car. The event enthuses all things Cooper and in the follow-up to the exciting re-launch certified the strong enthusiasm that still stands strong for Classic Cooper.
Goodwood Festival of Speed, Paddy Hopkirk and the 33EJB Replica
Perhaps one of the most significant dates in the Mini Sport 2014 calendar was that of the Goodwood Festival of Speed. Established in 1993 the event has become renowned by motorists for it infamous hill climb. This year, we had even more reasons to be excited as we attended the event with Paddy Hopkirk and the 33EJB replica in tow. Paddy was invited as a guest following the 50th anniversary of his win at Monte Carlo and drove the replica up the ‘hill-climb’ for a total of eight times across the weekend. The 33EJB replica has become close to us all at Mini Sport, as we now home the car and prepare it for all events and exhibitions. The replica is a fantastic car lovingly built by the late Graham McConnell and now owned by Paddy himself.
Goodwood Revival Meeting and the Cooper F3 T72
Like the Goodwood Festival of Speed, the ‘Goodwood Revival Meeting’ has become equally accomplished. Goodwood revival focuses more on the racing aspect of motorsport with emphasis on the industry between the 1950’s and 1960’s. We took Paddy Hopkirk 33EJB replica down to the event as well as debuting another extra special car, which had been awaiting its showcase. Earlier in the year Mike Cooper offered us the incredible opportunity to restore a Cooper F3 T72 back to its original form. Not only did the car reflect the style and substance of formula 3 cars in 1963 with exceptional charm but hadpreviously acted as one of the first cars driven by Sir Jackie Stewart in competition. The car was intricately restored with every accurate attention to detail and was fully converted back to its former glory at Mini Sport. The cars debut at Goodwood Revival in September was greeted with a great sense of nostalgia, as the car had previous connections with Goodwood when Sir Jackie drove it at the Goodwood tests before being scouted as an F1 driver. Sir Jackie Stewart was able to, once more drive this car at the revival before signing the front, a priceless mark for an unprecedented piece of motorsport history.
Steven Entwistle and the ‘Orange Box’
In October, Steven Entwistle one of our sponsored Rally drivers reviewed his first season at the Historic Road Rally Championship 2014. His car, the infamously renowned ‘orange box’ had a rally history, which dated way back to 1962. Stevens decision to compete for the first time lead him to Mini Sport to re-engine the 1000cc under the bonnet. Daniel Harper of Mini Sport came up with a suitable spec for the 1293cc engine, which would offer the ideal balance between power and performance. To ensure that the car stays tractable, an engine was built and fitted initially with the twin 1.25” SU carburetors from the old 997 engine. Steven and navigator, Bob Hagreaves competed with a few small problems, eventually coming in at 4th place. A remarkably high position for the the first time competing at the HRRC. We were proud to back Steven and Bob and power his ‘orange box’ for competition. Read Stevens personally written review of the championship here.
‘Diddy’ Dave, Louise and Melanie
‘Diddy’ Dave Thomas has had ties with Mini Sport for quite a while, forming a great friendship from a mutual love of Mini’s. ‘Diddy Dave’ has become renowned for his journeys across the world, launching fandom when he converted his Minivan for global navigation. You can keep a note on Dave’s latest ventures at his official Facebook fan page ‘The Wrong Way Round’. However, this year it was Dave’s daughter Louise Thomas and her friend and co-driver Melanie Whittaker who stole the limelight. Louise and Melanie decided to enter into The Mull Rally in her Classic Mini in order to raise money for a charity close to their hearts. The Mini, prepared by MiniSport was to act as the catalyst in their fundraising and rallying efforts, helping to raise awareness for Marie Curie Cancer Care. Despite some mechanical issues the girls managed to raise significant funds for Marie Curie at the Rally as well as being awarded ‘the best prepared Mini’ award at The Mull Rally. An outstanding effort from Louise and Melanie for fantastic cause.
The International Mini Meet
The last official event of the year was the International Mini Meet, which was this year, held in Kent. The international event receives a fantastic reception from Mini enthusiasts across the globe. Often held in a range of international locations, this year we only had to travel down south for the show. This was spectacular event that brought over 4000 Mini’s and their owners to Kent. We can’t wait for next years – we just hope the weather is as good! Mini Sport Website Re-Launch
October witnessed the re-launch of the Mini Sport website. The website had been re-designed with functionality and navigation in mind for every shopper. The capability of the site improved for better service and a more user-friendly approach. The interactive part-selector now allows you to pick the parts you need based on detailed diagrams of different models whilst restoration and services are broken down to appropriate sub-services with full photography for every item. We hope you all like it!
So, this is just a brief run-down of some of the events and achievements that have kept us busy throughout 2014. Please keep an eye on the blog for our next post which will illustrate some notable restorations from the last year. here’s hoping to another busy one and we’ll see you in the next year!