Wow! What a week! My first time out of the US and I can say that I wasn’t disappointed. Before I even get started, a quick and HUGE thank you to everyone that made this trip possible, made it easy and made MINI United 2007 such a great event! And, of course, shout-outs to all the new MINI Peeps we met! I hope to see you all again at MINI United 2009!
Before you begin, I’ll warn you now that I did manage to go pretty long with this. There are also quite a few pictures (all link back to flickr) so if you are on a slow connection it might take a bit to load.
LAX To London
First time on a 747. What a beast!
Of course, the geek in me had to cruise over to the Boeing site to get all the specs. These planes are large and fast! A great combination for long haul flights. Heading north from LA to catch the jet stream, ground speed was about 550mph. Once we were riding the stream, ground speed increased to over 600MPH! Quick tip for future reference; If the money can be spent, upgrade out of coach. Trust me on this one.
Meet up with Todd and his wife, drive to Oxford
Tired and hot (temp was almost 30C in London on Tuesday), I finally arrive at our hotel in London after what I can only describe as the craziest taxi ride ever! I never rode in a passenger car before and wanted a helmet and Nomex driving suit. To my drivers credit, it wasn’t really him. It was just as much everyone else. Cut-off or be cut-off I’m sure is the mantra there.
We finally got checked in and climbed into our Cooper D for the trip to the plant. I’ve already posted that if you want more detail, but it was cool! So was the Cooper D. Man, I would so buy and drive this car.
The next day we had to ourselves, so a little bit of sightseeing was definitely in order. We started out turning left out of the hotel, which really should have been a right! So, we did a bit of walking, saw some funny signs and ate a proper English breakfast, which included beans and toast, a great cup of coffee and sausage. Yes, of course we even went through Harrods. This place was huge! Taking up a very large city block and 6 stories tall, there was definitely something for everyone. I was expecting to see nothing but really high end items here. Of course, I wasn’t disappointed. But there were also items like any other large department store would have, with prices to match (not counting the 2:1 BPS to US Dollar, of course).
London to Amsterdam
This time on an Airbus 318, in single class configuration. What a great flight. Glass smooth from start to finish, and it was even on time! Navigating Heathrow from the Tube was an interesting experience, a long walk but very easy to do. One thing I would like to point out that was nice about London and Holland was the public transportation system. It was amazingly easy to get anywhere, and not too expensive either! If you are ever over there, don’t be afraid of the train!
Once we got ourselves checked at the hotel, Todd and I headed up to the event site in Zandvoort. Again, an easy train ride and a short walk and we were there. Of course, it would be the last time we made that trip in this manner because we got the keys to a MY/B R56 MCS. Yes, it even had nav. More on the R56 later, but it was great!
Everything was ready to go with lots of black shirt event staff running through final checks and training.
We met out man Oliver, he got us to our tent to check it out, we left a few things behind and decided to call it a day at the site. Gabe had just gotten into town after a very long drive from Munich, and it was time to eat.
MINI United, Day 1
Before we could get started, we had to finish setting up the tent. Once that was done, we had a full day! Interviews were already lined up with Mike Cooper and Rauno Aaltonen. Little did we know that we would also get the chance to meet Gert Hildebrand too!
We did a little walking around before the interviews, snapped a bunch of pictures and talked to a whole bunch of people. The crowd was growing by the minute, even with the threat of rain.
You’ll hear in the background of the interviews a steady beat. There was music playing from the main stage all day, and it really added to the overall energy of the event, even during the day!
MINI United, Day 2
Day 2 brought track time with the R56 and more interviews. I have come to the realization that I really like the R56 on the track! It helped that it was an old F1 course, wide corners that carried as much speed as I was allowed (stupid pace car). I’ll be doing another write-up of my thoughts on the r56 later and go into more detail, but I really did like this car.
Todd got some laps too, and I think he is almost converted to like it! Like Shatner baby! WOOOOOO
Later in the day we interviewed Gert Hildebrand and Dr. Kay Segler. Again, 2 more awesome guys to meet and talk with, especially Gert! He was hilarious and kept giving Gabe a hard time about how much he hated the factory Aero kit and how many comments were left about it on Motoringfile. Yes, they read MF! Listen to Whiteroofradio too! That was very cool to hear.
We saw more cool MINIs and talked to more event goers. Heck, Todd and Gabe even took advantage of the prices of accessories during the event to come home with a little extra som’ som’ for their MINIs! Even with the conversion, the JCW Steering wheel was still a fantastic deal!
MINI United at Night: We make party!
Part of what MINI United is would have to be the party. Under the main tent, hot DJ’s, cool drinks as pretty people as far as the eye can see moving and swaying to the beats and the floor. It was incredible.
Of course, we all took advantage, different nights to different degrees. I’m just going to leave it at that. And I’ll cop to the fact that I missed my flight on Monday. Hey, it wasn’t my fault! There was Tequila envolved.
Day 3 started off pouring rain, which allowed us to pick up a hitch hiking Mike Cooper! He was walking from his hotel saw us and stuck out his thumb. It was great!
Then, more pictures, talking with more event goers. We got some great audio for the show and you should start seeing the rest of it over the next few days.
Sunday night finished with a dinner and reception that MINI USA put on. Dinner at Fifteen, an autographed copy of the MINI Book by Rauno, a great meal and maybe 1 too many cocktails after. It was a great time and awesome to hang out with everyone!
Thanks have to go to MINI for inviting us, Oliver for putting up with our crap (such divas I swear!), MINIUSA for getting us rooms and inviting us along on their outtings and all of the WRR/MF fans that stopped by to say hi! It was great to meet all of you.
If you want to go back and check any of our coverage…
- My MU Flickr
- Gabe’s MU Flickr
- the MINI United Flickr Pool
- MINI United on Motoringfile
- MINI United on WRR
- the MINI United Blog
It was a fantastic event and I can’t wait until ’09! If you know what is special about that year, I’m sure you can figure out what might be in the works for MINI United as well as a possible location. That’s all you get, the rest is up to you!