Monthly Archives: January 2010

Richard Hammond on the MINI E

Top Gear’s Richard Hammond spent some time with the MINI E and gave his driving impressions on MINI’s experimental electric vehicle in his article on the Mirror Motoring Blog.  He mostly enjoyed the driving dynamics, but isn’t convinced of the need of an electric MINI:

I’m sticking by what I’ve been saying for ages. With the VW Polo Econetic doing more than 60mpg and models on the way that’ll do more than 80mpg, I can’t see the need for electric cars.

However, when the boffins have improved batteries so that you’ll be able to go 250 miles or more I might think again. What the Mini E has shown me is that electric cars don’t have to be boring or slow.

Read the entire article.

RSR Motorsports at the Fresh from Florida 200

The Daytona racing season began yesterday with the Fresh from Florida 200, the initial race of the 2010 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (formerly the KONI Challenge).  RSR Motorsports, along with Automatic Racing, are very optimistic about the coming season.  They have prepared three MINIs, two of which were entered into the race yesterday.  Team owner Randy Smalley paired up with returning driver Owen Trinkler in the 196 MINI Cooper S.  New drivers to RSR Motorsports Sarah Cattaneo and VJ Mirzayan teamed up in the 197 MINI Cooper S which started the race in the top five positions.

On an overcast but warm afternoon, the race began with a few caution flags but had few major incidents.  The two MINIs began strong with both moving up in the pack.  Sarah took the 197 MINI all the way to second place before giving up some of those spots midway through the race.  Randy was driving well but a few laps before he was to hand the driving to Owen, the 196 MINI developed electrical problems and left the race.

After an excellent first track outing in a MINI for Sarah, it was time for VJ to take the wheel.  He also raced well, taking the 197 MINI back into third place and posting the fastest lap of the day in ST class.  It looked like a possible podium finish for MINI.  However, with about ten laps remaining, the 197 MINI suffered the same electrical problems which caused the MINI to lose power and go into “limp mode”.  The racing day was over for RSR Motorsports.

I caught up with the ever-friendly Randy Smalley in the garage area following the race.  He was obviously disappointed at the problems with the MINIs, but was also very satisfied with the performance of the cars and the preparation done by Automatic Racing.  Several other drivers expressed how impressed they were by the MINIs and worried how strong the MINIs will be in future races on a tighter racetrack.  Randy and the team are quite hopeful for the rest of the season and the Library of Motoring will be following their progress.

See the official results.

collectible of the day: Johnny Lightning The Italian Job die-cast MINIs

Soon after the launch of the MINI, there were many die-cast cars produced.  But probably none more sought-after as these Johnny Lightning models for The Italian Job movie.  They were part of Johnny Lightning’s “Hollywood on Wheels” series and consisted of an Indi Blue MINI Cooper, Chili Red MINI Cooper S, and Pepper White MINI Cooper.  One could buy two sets: one “clean” and one “dirty”.

collectible of the day: Standing Plush Bulldog with Jacket

Standing Plush Bulldog with Jacket
The mascot of the MINI since launch has been the bulldog.  And since then, MINI USA has offered a plush bulldog.  The original standing MINI Plush Bulldog wore just a collar with MINI on it.  For a brief time, circa 2004, there was a lying plush bulldog.  The current standing plush bulldog now sports a red jacket. From the MotoringGear catalog:


Iconic and infinitely huggable MINI mascot stands approximately 10.5″ tall and comes dressed in removable, red track jacket with the MINI wordmark. Polyester fiber/polyurethane foam. Imported.

80 28 0 443 583


Buy one from your local MINI dealer.

Fireball Tim on MINI Cooper Killers

Fireball Tim
Our favorite “Movie Car Design Master” and MINI enthusiast, Fireball Tim, writes in his latest article on CarDomain Blog about two up-coming so-called “MINI killers”:

“Case in point… The Audi A1 and Citroen Ds3. I’ve heard a lot about these lil’ beasts taking away a wee bit of the Mini control. But, I think not. The doods that buy a MINI are into levity. The A1 and Ds3 are anything but funny.”

Read Fireball Tim’s article at CarDomain Blog.

collectible of the day: vol.2 MINI

?????? ??????vol.2?MINI
Most books about the MINI come from the US, UK, and Germany, the three largest markets for the MINI.  Japan is an important market for the MINI, just as it was for the classic Mini.  In 2002, this small book called ?????? ????? vol.2 MINI written by ???? ????(Koichi Inouye) was published.

Written entirely in Japanese (except for the model names), the 167 page glossy book begins with a chapter on the MINI One, Cooper, and Cooper S models.  Almost all of the rest of the book covers the history, models, and special editions of the classic Mini.  Appendices include sales figures, specifications, and diagrams of MINI and Mini models.

Buy this book at (ISBN-10: 4584162441, ISBN-13: 978-4584162446).

collectible of the day: MINI Clinic syringe pen

MINI Clinic syringe penMINI has offered many styles of pens for sale (more of which we’ll include in this series).  But the free promotional ones are much more interesting.  Pictured is the MINI Clinic syringe pen complete with fake blood.  The plunger extends the pen’s ballpoint tip.  The pen comes from Frankfurt, Germany and dates from mid-2009.

See the MINI Clinic website at

Automatic Racing, RSR preview

RSR Motorsports MINI 196
I wrote a few weeks ago about RSR Motorsports and Automatic Racing joining forces to build and race MINIs in the 2010 GRAND-AM Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge (formerly the KONI Challenge).  The first race is the Fresh from Florida 200 at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, January 29th.

The combined teams will be fielding two MINIs: the 196 co-driven by Randall Smalley and Owen Trinkler, and the 197 co-driven by Sarah Cattaneo and VJ Mirzayan. has an update on the testing at Daytona:

“The test was probably the best one we’ve ever had at Daytona, so that’s encouraging for the rest of the season. It’s not just about one race: you have to look at the big picture and where you want to be at the end of the season,” Trinkler noted.

“I think we’ve really got the handling down. The Mini performed really well in the infield during the test,” said Smalley. “The Automatic Racing crew has done a great job of preparing the Minis and we’ve got experienced drivers behind the wheel, so we’re pretty confident.”

Read the entire article.

The Library of Motoring will be attending the race on Friday and will post race results and photos as soon as possible.

collectible of the day: milk carton ad

milk carton ad milk carton ad LET’S RUN OUT OF MILK.

Let’s run out of bread. Let’s run out of t.p. Let’s run out of anything so we can run out to the corner and back. Let’s just never run out of gas. LET’S MOTOR.

This clever advertising insert by Crispin Porter + Bogusky is printed on card stock and folds into a fake milk carton.  The instructions read:

  1. Assemble prop carton.
  2. Rotate and shake convincingly.
  3. Motor.

The ad can be found in the following magazine issues:

  • Men’s Journal. 2004.
  • The New Yorker. June 14 & 21, 2004.