MINI Takes The States

This time last year, I was falling in love with MINI Cooper.  I was driving accross country in a cute, little, brown MINI that I named Rumble-stiltskin.  Get it?  I miss that that car!  Anyway, I’ve been waiting to drop this story in time for the NEXT cross country MINI-a-thon but since it’s been postponed, here you go!

Last year, the MINI madness started in five different cities (Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, and New York). MINI Cooper owners and enthusiasts hopped into their own MINIs and set out to drive halfway across the country to Denver, Colorado.  Talk about brand loyalty!  This annual MINI Cooper customer appreciation event known as MINI Takes The States, was started in 2006 and has evolved a bit every year.

While the very first MINI Takes The States was a full cross-country drive from California to New York and back again (yes, really!), the 2010 event had five different routes and time lines that all converged in Denver on August 13th.  There were an estimated 10,000 participants at the culmination event.  Sounds like fun, right?  Definitely more fun than I’ve had in a very long time.

From Los Angeles, which is where my journey with the tour began, the ride to Denver was approximately 1,206 driving miles—a heck of a road trip but zipping along inside a MINI Cooper S (for “sport”) amidst a caravan of customized MINIs made it a blast.  Sometimes I counted as many as twenty MINIs behind me.  It was like a MINI mob.  We made quite an impression at gas stations– I’m sure you can imagine. I do wish someone offered frequent diver miles, though. I’d be set for life.

The LA leg’s launch party at the California Science Center near downtown LA was DJ’ed by singer Macy Gray but the real star of the show was the MINI Cooper Countryman, MINI’s first four-door model, which inspired lots of gawks amongst the MINI owners.  Macy and the Countryman got some star power competition from a very unlikely source: a stilt walker who danced the night away and made just about everyone smile with her antics.

After lots of food, drink, and conversation with excited enthusiastic MINI Coopers it was time to return to the host hotel where the sheer volume of MINI Coopers in the hotel-parking garage was staggering.  The best part?  Checking out what other MINI owners had done to their cars.  My fave?   The taxi-cab MINI, complete with a “not for hire” sign on the windows (below).

The sheer volume of experiences (and MINIs) I encountered on this trip was staggering so I’ve decided to post the occasional MINI Takes The State story here and there, rather than do a book-long story.  Next time, I’m just going to video tape everything.  Anyway, standby! -Sekou

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