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.John 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…)
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.Overall, 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 ;).Body 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
Last week I took Clark up for MINIs On The Dragon to join about 900 other MINIacs driving the mountain roads of North Carolina and Tennessee. The previous MINIs On The Dragon events I attended were done in my previous 2006 MINI Cooper S, Scooter, so I was looking forward to bringing my 2016 F56 MINI up there for some comparison. I have spent quite a bit of time working on setting up Clark to at least match the handling of Scooter and driving the Dragon (US 129) is a sure way to test the setup out.
This past weekend I entered my first non-MINI-only car show – Wheels Across The Pond 2016. I have attended the show as a spectator in the past, but never had an entry. The show draws about 250 registrants showing off their cars in over 30 different classes. I entered Clark in the Modern MINI class and the competition was fierce. My good friend, Jackie Hardy, presented her MINI Clubvan, Preston (a Wallace and Gromit Anti Pesto van-themed MINI) – always a crowd favorite. Michelle and Howie Rosenberg showed off their Green Lantern themed MINI, Kilowog, among other great MINIs. All in all, there were quite a few MINIs that came to impress so Clark needed to put on his cape and become “SuperMINI”. After the voting finished and the tallies counted, Jackie Hardy took 3rd place with Preston, Michael Rose took 2nd with his silver R56 Cooper S and Clark took 1st place in the Modern MINI class!!!!
A few people have asked me to compare Clark’s dyno numbers from August to the factory JCW dyno numbers from this weekend’s dyno day. So before I start posting comparison graphs from yesterday, I figured I would post this comparison for anyone on the fence about adding the JCW Pro Tuning Kit to their F56 Cooper S. Continue reading Dyno Comparison: 2016 F56 Factory JCW and 2016 F56 S JCW Tuning Kit
So this week I received the last planned exterior detail to complete Clark’s transformation – Chili Red door handle covers! These were hard to find – let me tell you!! Apparently due to the various versions of door handles on the F56 MINI (ie. comfort access, non-comfort access, etc.), many MINI aftermarket vendors are not carrying colored door handles anymore. Luckily I was able to find a reputable vendor in China that delivered these beauties as promised.
The handles cost $112 and attach over your existing chrome handles with adhesive tape and provide the comfort access hole cut out already for a great fit. The only modification I chose to do to the handles was to use a Dremel to cut-out a notch for the small LED light on the bottom of the door handle so the light would shine down (this is not required if you don’t care about the light, but I wanted the light to shine on the ground when I opened the door).
I also decided to black out my chrome beltline with some 3M Super 88 vinyl tape to complete the de-chroming. Awesome stuff by the way at under $4 a roll! Big thanks to Lam Lan of Car & Woman Mini Cooper Shop for making sure I received exactly what I needed. If you are interested in some custom door handles or other custom pieces for your MINI, check out their site on AliExpress:
I have gotten a few requests for some close up shots of how the new RSe05 wheels sit on my F56, Clark, and how they clear the John Cooper Works brakes that were just installed this week. I may post some photos later of the actual brake install, but for now, check out these shots of how the wheels and brakes look. I personally think they look fantastic! Continue reading RSe05 Wheels & F56 JCW Brakes Up Close
If you have been following Clark’s progress over the past month or so, you know of the struggles in finding an aftermarket wheel that will clear the JCW brakes on the F56. My JCW brakes have been sitting in a box in the garage for almost a month waiting for new wheels to be installed that will clear the large calipers. After a lot of work on behalf of Jerry at NM Engineering, Clark is now sporting new wheels that not only will clear the JCW brakes, but also helps complete his “Superman” theme 🙂
I decided to go with the 17×8″ RSe05’s with a +45 offset and the Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires in a 215/45-17 configuration. The wheels are so much lighter than the stock wheels that the difference was noticeable right out of the gate. So far the Pilot Super Sports are WAY stickier than the OEM Hankook run-flats so handling has improved immensely. I couldn’t be happier with the way the wheels came out and highly recommend contacting Jerry at NM Engineering if you need some custom wheels for your F56 JCW! You can reach Jerry at (800) 423-3623
For the past eleven years, I have joined other MINIacs at the Walt Disney World Resort for the annual Mickey & MINI event that takes place each September. This year’s festivities were awesome and everyone had a fabulous time! If you haven’t had a chance to make it to a Mickey & MINI, you really need to plan on coming next year.
Video Credit: “bones0393“
First off, a HUGE thank you is in order to Jerry at NM Engineering for going above and beyond in assisting in this project. When I first went looking for aftermarket wheels for the F56 JCW Brake Kit, I didn’t realize how much of a challenge it would be to find ANYTHING available in the after-market. Every option that I found required spacers to push the wheel out enough to clear the massive Brembo calipers of the JCW Brake Kit. As I described in part 1 of this project, Jerry agreed to get his hands on a JCW Brake Kit himself and install it on the NM Engineering test F56 to see what could be done to bring to market a wheel that would clear the brakes without the need for spacers. If you recall from part 1 of this project, Jerry was going to enlarge the center bore and reseat the lug holes of the NM Engineering 8″ wide VW spec wheels so that they are perfectly matched to MINI spec (66.5mm and canical seat lugs). After various test fittings, here are the options that are available for customization to clear the JCW brakes: Continue reading Found: A Wheel That Clears The F56 JCW Brake Kit