What the hell have we gotten ourselves into this time? It seems like it was only yesterday we were on the road with the Toyota Racing team and their modified Sienna minivan, freezing our nuts off in the mountains of Massachussettes during One Lap of America, and now here we are signing up for something similar.
In a similar, but oh-so different take on going cross country, Mini’s annual peregrination from one end of America to the other is well under way, as “Mini Takes the States” encourages hundreds of fans of the brand to undertake the ultimate road trip. What started with a bang in Atlanta, Georgia has taken enthusiasts across multiple state lines, and to some of the coolest race tracks America has to offer, and we are quite curious to see what transpires when we join everyone in Park City, Utah on July 20.
Over the past week or so, Mini enthusiasts have driven from Atlanta to Charlotte and Richmond, through Baltimore and Pittsburgh, up into Detroit, and then onward into the wild west. This year’s two-week road trip sends fans through 18 states, and will conclude on July 23 in Palm Springs, California. Naturally, we will be on board for the Utah, Vegas, and California portions of the voyage, and plan to drive, race, document, and photograph the entire experience.
“It’s gratifying as a company to see this level of pride in the vehicles and this much involvement. It’s more similar to Harley Davidson than it is to another car [company],” says Patrick McKenna, head of product planning and aftersales for Mini USA. “Maybe you have a Corvette following, maybe you have a Mustang following, but you don’t have something for an entire brand of this magnitude.”
After Detroit it was on to St. Ignace in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, as the western stab included Green Bay, Minneapolis, and Sioux Falls. But this isn’t just some road-bound cross-country cruise either, as there is a lot of cool sightseeing along the way as well. From visiting the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, to touring the 9/11 memorial site and exploring the Gettysburg Civil War battlefield in Pennsylvania, Mini enthusiasts get to experience it all. Hell, according to one report from Automotive News, during a brief stop in a small South Carolina town, a Mini spokesman said “the mayor was handing out keys to the city to some drivers.”
This whole cross-country mad dash started back in 2006, and every year it continues to grow in popularity. Just four years ago only 250 people made the entire trip, then it jumped to around 450 people in 2014, and 900 this year. Overall, Mini expects that around 4,300 people will participate in this year’s event, and much like yours truly, many of them are unable to make the full trek, so people come and go daily. This year, Mini says it plans to take the money raised during the campaign and give it to the non-profit Feeding America in order to help battle hunger, so regardless of how long you stay on board, you are helping.
There are a few notable perks to taking the states in a Mini that warrant mentioning too, chiefly how easy it is to register and how surprisingly inexpensive it is. Registering online only takes minutes, and since participants can sign four people at a time up for the event, teams consisting of rotating drivers are quite common.
Also, since most participants are unable to make the entire trek, single city tickets are readily available, and include evening and next-day morning events in one city for just $40. Naturally, there is a $75 multi-city ticket as well, which gets you into as many MTTS events as your heart desires, while kids under the age of 12 get to rally for free. As for gas, hotels, food, and other accommodations, that falls on you to figure out.
Another interesting fact about this rally that sets it apart from the pack is that it is 100% pet friendly, so you will find all kinds of critters taking scenic selfies alongside their masters. There also is a free MTTS app for those who need to stay in the know and like to track their progress, and being able to submit your photos for cataloging allows Mini fans the ability to both document their voyage and share it with millions of enthusiasts around the globe.
So what all can you expect to see from us, now that we’re completely committed to the madcap Southwestern leg of MTTS 2016? To be honest, we really don’t know yet, and that’s what makes the notion that much more appealing. While there most certainly will be some sensational slideshows, features on what we learned along the way, and a vehicle review or two, heaven only knows what we’ll be up to the rest of the time. So buckle up and hang on, because when Mini Takes the States, there’s no telling what sort of larger than life adventures await.