Video: Interview with John Schneider (aka Bo Duke)

This past week I had the honor of meeting one of my all-time favorite actors, John Schneider, at the CineFlix Film Festival in Palm Beach Gardens, FL.img_2714John was super nice and allowed me to do a Facebook Live stream of the interview where we had a chance to talk about not only the film festival, but the Tail of the Dragon and my MINI, Clark.  Some will remember that John Schneider has a Superman connection (he played Jonathan Kent in the TV series Smallville!). Click below for the video (sorry it was filmed vertically – not sure when Facebook Live changed from square format, but on well…)

Video: Sebring Track Weekend 2016

This past weekend was the first time running the full course at Sebring since I last drove it in 2008 in my 2006 R53 MINI Cooper S, Scooter.  Last year I was lucky enough to take the Ford Shelby  GT350 R out for a spin at Sebring, but it was the club course and not the full 3.7 miles.  All I can say is WOW!!  I wasn’t sure how well the F56 MINI would perform on the track compared to the R53, but I was quickly impressed by not only the power, but the amazing handling I was able to get out of the MINI Dynamic Damper suspension coupled with the NM Engineering lowering springs, control arms and sway bar.img_6159Overall, the car felt amazing around the track.  Plenty of torque allowed me to power out of turns in 3rd gear without having to drop to 2nd.  One the straights, the 2.0L engine provided plenty of power to not let the higher horsepower V8s get too far ahead ;).img_6125Body roll was almost non-existent, which made for a very stable and comfortable feeling whipping through the twisties.  I had forgotten how much I love being out on track and am very happy to have had this chance to get back out there and surprise some Corvette owners again lol.

Photo Credit: PhotosByJuha.com

Sunshine MINIs Sebring Track Weekend 2016

Last weekend was one of the most epic track weekends I have ever been a part of.  Not only did a great group of MINI owners get together for a fun weekend on one of the oldest continuously operating race tracks in the United States, but two generations of MINI race teams also joined us to be a part of the fun!!snapseedRandy Smalley brought the R53 RSR MINI Race Team MINIs out for some friendly competition against Luis Perocarpi and the current generation F56 LAP Motorsports MINI John Cooper Works Racing Team MINIs!!  For the first time ever, we got to witness these two IMSA/Grand Am race MINIs compete on the same track, at the same time!!  It was magical to hear the whine of the R53 superchargers out on the track again, even though the turbos from the F56 provided much more power!img_1955Tonine McGarvie from MINI USA was also in attendance coordinating hot laps for those that wanted to see what a lap around Sebring felt like when driven by Luis!  Even though I was driving all weekend on the track, I still signed up for a ride with Luis and… holy cow was it awesome!!img_2071This was the first experience EVER on the track for most of the MINI owners that participated and I am proud to say they represented the MINI community well and made a few high power V8 owners take notice!!  img_1908

Here are some shots from the weekend (Thanks to Matthew Toombs for the photos):img_0816img_1171img_1057img_1065img_1071img_1064img_1181img_0874img_0763img_1916-1img_2010img_2020Huge thanks to Jim VanderVliet from NASA for putting on a great track weekend.  Also huge thanks to Luis Perocarpi and Randy Smalley for bringing out their race MINIs and joining us for a great time on the track!!  Hopefully we can do this again!

All 3 MINI JCW Team MINIs Finish In Top 10 At COTA

Wow!  This past weekend, the MINI JCW Team finished with all three of their cars in the top 10 at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, TX!  The race was quite exciting and a pretty high rate of attrition throughout.  The JCW Team hung in there, though, to finish 6th (#73), 9th (#52) and 10th (#37).   This is the first time all three cars finished in the top 10!!  Way to go!!

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Only one more race left in the season and it takes place on Sept. 30th at Road Atlanta.  Hopefully the JCW Team will get another podium finish!!

Sunshine MINIs Sebring Track Weekend – October 1-2, 2016

sebringtd162In just three weeks, the ultimate HPDE track weekend kicks off at Sebring International Raceway!!  Hosted by the National Auto Sport Association (NASA), the weekend of October 1-2, 2016 will not only provide a fun High Performance Drivers Education (HDPE) experience for fellow MINI owners and enthusiasts, but will also feature a rare opportunity to watch two generations of race MINIs compete on the same track at the same time!

If you have watched the Continental Tire Series for some time (formerly the Koni Challenge Series), you will remember the RSR Motorsports R53 MINIs that competed in the series.  Driver/Owner, Randy Smalley, will be bringing two of the RSR MINIs to Sebring to race against the current generation LAP Motorsports F56 JCW MINIs being brought by team owner, Luis Perocarpi.  This will be quite a thrill to watch these MINIs out on the track together!!

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Stay tuned for photos and videos from the weekend.  Also, If you are interested in participating in the weekend, head on over to the NASA website to register!

Huge thanks to COOPERation for the Sebring 2016 artwork!!

 

MTTS 2016: Day 14 Las Vegas, NV – Palm Springs, CA

Today was awesome because we went to eat breakfast and then went to see the Hoover Dam and then drive on Route 66.IMG_9044It was so cool because we were listening to the soundtrack from a ride called Radiator Springs Racers in Cars Land inside Disney’s California Adventure theme park while driving on the real Route 66.IMG_9084That evening we went to the Air and Space Museum and my dad won a JetBlue flight which is really cool. The next morning (technically day 15) we had the last event for MTTS 2016 at The Thermal Club in Palm Springs.IMG_9185 It was so fun because us kids were shooting each other with water guns while the adults had fun on the race track.IMG_9175 Overall, it was a fun trip. Thanks for following along with me and my dad. Bye for now 🙂

MTTS 2016: ROAD DEBRIS AND COWBOYS

The journey back from MTTS 2016 has not been as smooth as the actual MTTS event for us.  Apologies for the delay in posting the last couple of days of the actual event – Christian was wiped but he should have the post uploaded soon!

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In the meantime, check out a note I sent to my family about what took place on Monday as we were trying to go visit them in Texas on the way home…

Today proved to be an interesting challenge on our journey back home… It started off great as we drove along the musical road on Route 66 and then headed towards Texas. As we were approaching the Texas border in Clovis, New Mexico, we ran over a chunk of concrete that was being tossed around on the not-so-well maintained Clovis roads. The impact ended up bending my 2 passenger side rims which resulted in both tires losing air pressure. Luckily there was no damage to the actual car other than the wheels/tires and thankfully there was a Day’s Inn across the street that I was able to pull into and set up a make shift triage pit stall for Clark.

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The rear tire lost all air pressure in a matter of minutes but the front tire was able to keep about 15 pounds of pressure. With only 1 spare, my goal was to put my spare up front and move the less damaged wheel to the rear. Sounds easy right? Well one of the bolts on the rear wheel appeared damaged somehow which made it almost impossible to remove. After an hour of messing with it, I decided to call MINI Roadside assistance for a tow to the nearest Discount Tire. Only issue is that the tow would have to wait until 8am the next morning since Discount Tire was about to close. No problem – we were at a hotel right? LoL

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Anyways, the tow was scheduled but then something amazing happened. I asked a hotel guest who was standing outside for assistance to see if he had any ideas on trying to get the lug loose in its current condition. He gave it a shot and quickly came to the same conclusion I made – that lug was messed up lol. He then told me he is staying with a friend who is a mechanic and has his tools!!! BOOM!!! His buddy George came out with some real tools (I was using the crappy lug wrench that came with the car jack Kit). After quite a bit of effort on his part, he finally was able to get the lug loose and I had 40 minutes to get to Discount Tire. So I put the less damaged wheel on the rear and filled it up as much as I could with my portable air compressor. We arrived at Discount Tire with about 20 minutes to spare and they worked on putting a new wheel on the rear and swapping one of the good tires to it.

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We then decided to drive as far as Lubbock, Texas for the night (we are on our way to visit my parents in Round Rock, TX). When we got to our hotel (Staybridge Suites) we were given a room right away. This is where things get funny… We walk into our room only to find some cowboy boots on the counter and a real cowboy in bed watching TV!!! He looked at us with a puzzled face and yelled a few obscenities lol. We quickly left the room and went to report the situation to the front desk and had them assign us a different room!! Wow – what a way to top off an already weird day!!

Anyway…. We are ok and that’s what matters. Our travel plans were delayed a day, but we sure made some memories lol.

MTTS 2016: DAY 13 – PARK CITY, UT – LAS VEGAS, NV

Today we saw a jet-powered Tow Mater on a race track at Rocky Mountain Raceway and it destroyed this old car that was broken. After that we got a magnet at the surprising delight in a ghost town in Leeds, UT and went to Las Vegas.IMG_6288We were staying at the Bellagio which was from a movie called Ocean’s Eleven. The first thing we did was go to the buffet which was AWESOME. Then we went on this cool curved escalator and then went to another hotel. We made our way back to the Bellagio and watched the fountain show which was really cool. After that we went to bed.

MTTS 2016: DAY 12 – CHEYENNE, WY – PARK CITY, UT

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Today was an awesome day because after the morning event in Cheyenne, we stayed at one of the best hotels in the world – Staybridge Suites in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The Cheyenne morning event was alright but the hotel in Utah was awesome. It had a waterside, arcade, and a basketball court. While my dad went to MINI of Murray to get an oil change, I went on the water slide around 10 times and it went SUPER FAST. Then I went to the arcade and I won a ball from the claw machine. Then finally I went to the basketball court to shoot some hoops. The hotel had free dinner also. Overall, the hotel was awesome.