Mini has had a unique cult factor for decades – more so than ever in the USA. After the pandemic-related break, all hell broke loose again at the nationwide fan meeting “Mini takes the States”. A special kind of road trip with a secret star: the electric Mini Cabrio.
Die-hard Mini fans had to wait four years; at least the craziest of them from North America have been starving since 2018 before there was another tour Mini takes the States. As an offshoot of the BMW Group, the British car brand has a fan base that is as large as it is crazy, especially in the USA. And the mini-kids prefer to travel long distances in their colorfully decorated lifestyle speedsters. This year, Mini takes the States didn’t just mean a stately fan get-together for more than 3,000 participants, where one’s own piece of jewelry was shown to other like-minded people, but a nine-day trip of a special kind. For 800 Mini fans, it was the first Mini Tour of the USA. After the first event 16 years ago, Mini takes the States took place for the eighth time this summer. Of course, there is hardly a major event in the USA that does not have a charity aspect, and since 65 percent of all Mini drivers own pets such as dogs or cats, the tour with historical and current Mini models became a charity road trip in favor of abandoned animals. A net proceeds of 75,000 dollars is impressive in addition to the fun effect for all 3,000 participants.
The last time it went in 2018 as a rally under the title “Rally to the Rockies” from all over the USA to the Rocky Mountains in the direction of Denver, this time there was a tour from Burlington in the north-eastern US state of Vermont to Greenville / South Carolina and thus close to the BMW’s only US plant in Spartanburg. The approximately 1,700 miles led over eight days via stations in Vernon, Poconos, Frederick and Bristol to the hot south of the USA. Street worth seeing, spectacular panoramas and a lot of history for the long polonaise snake that went on the route through the eastern USA. The endless interstate highways – once created in the United States based on the German model – are just as frowned upon in Mini takes the States as other car models, and so the army of wildly pasted mini crawlers fought over curvaceous ones in the mindset of Sir Alec Issigonis or John Cooper country roads to the south.
Radiant in the field of minis for the eighth edition: repeat offender, mini-maniac and Navy veteran Captain Cynthia; driving a silver Mini John Cooper Works from 2019. “This time I am without my son Rob, who had his first experience as a novice driver here at the last event. He’s in college now and has to work. Here you meet so many nice people who are just as mini crazy as I am. I’ve turned so many people into mini-fans, including in the Navy.”
As if the Minis weren’t colorful enough, the vehicles of the participants not only have the windshield with the lettering “Mini takes the States”, but also countless stickers adorn the front, rear and sides, which give the appropriate expression to the extroverted automotive living conditions must. A stage sticker is added with every crazy station and the adhesive surface on the paintwork of Cooper, John Cooper Works or Countryman is getting tight for some. The most spectacular model in the field is a mini body from the first R50 generation, under whose burst bodywork the muscle masses of a fat Ford F 150 pick-up ooze out – mini once completely maxi with a step for the driver’s cab of the 420 cubic inch eight-cylinder . “Maybe I’m the Joker in disguise myself,” beams Jenny with her mini convertible wildly wrapped in Joker design, “I’m a big comic fan and I’ve only ever dressed up as a Joker for Halloween. With a 2018 Mini I can now be the joker all year round – and of course here at Mini takes the States too.” But it also goes in the other direction. Nik Miles leads the Mini product team on the tour: “There are all generations of models on the road trip. In addition, all trends, new rims from the accessories, lamps and extras. Of course, that also influences us for future products.” This is one of the reasons why those responsible for Mini from the British production in Oxford have come to the USA again: “To learn,” laughs James, “that surpasses everything I had imagined.”
Every day there are hundreds of miles to be covered, tasks to be solved in a playful way and, last but not least, to be entertaining: to cover distances. In between, there’s still a busy schedule, so relax with a few laps at Pocono Raceway or carve corners on the spectacular meandering curves of the Dragon Tail before stopping at the picturesque Taylors Ranch for lunch. And at the finish in Spartanburg, everyone hopes for just one thing: that it won’t take four years until the next Mini takes the States, as this time due to the pandemic.