A thick smog of exhaust fumes and taste of fuel covered all of Northampton but this wasn’t where the epicentre of the commotion, it was this little place in Wellingborough called Santa Pod Raceway. The ground reverberated by the sounds of supercharger whines and spooling turbochargers MINIs gathering to this quarter-mile slip of Murcia tyre shredding heaven.
This year’s show would be an interesting, as Surrey New MINI would be coming in force along with my JCW. I had developed a reputation with other MINI owners wanting to meet the dynamic duo. There were a few owners wanting to meet myself I couldn’t wait to line myself up with them and wax lyrically about MINI & modding.
Just before the event I got my oil & filter changed as I had hit the 10,000 miles mark to which I always change my oil. So please if you own a turbocharged or supercharged MINI make sure you check your oil levels and change your oil regularly around or before 10,000 miles or at least yearly if you do low mileage. It’s a simple way of keeping your MINI running smooth and efficiently.
Here is what an oil filter looks like after 10,000 miles
Like I said SNM will be came in force we meant it!!! 35 glorious singing and dancing MINIs with equally looney owners. I think Lohen, 1320 MINI and other MINI specialist had their work cut out the week before the show as everyone was keeping hush hush about their modifications or going completely silent on the boards.
There were a few SNM & MINI Torque members wanting to take me on so friendship might go out the window as pride, manhood and endless bragging right would be on the line.
So line them up so I can knock them down…
Like last year I headed up on the day to the meet point and as usual I was one of the first ones there so I nipped in McDonald for some breakfast nom nom nom.
As the SNM gang were all accounted for we headed out in convoy and ended up hogging up all the roads on the way to Santa pod. A short 15 minute drive we arrived and parked up at our huge club stand with other members putting up the gazebo and SNM Flags.
Once this was done I gave Monie Monies a call to catch up with her and meet up with the Full on MINIs crew for the first time. For a small stand their MINIs do stand out with Andy’s Cooper S aka The BATTLE TANK with his low and wide stanced TopSun body kit which has the artillery to match under that bonnet.
I had read up on this all dancing and bouncing MINI in Modern MINI Magazine as I spotted it at Castle Combe a year ago but never spotted the little purple minion owner. I had a look around this maritime MINI and noticed all the little touches Holly had made from the amusing stickers, wide body kit, sticker bombed trim, air suspension and twin coloured deep dish rims. A unique car needs an equally unique owner…
Monie had brought Mimi with her which had recently been spruced up for the show and it was good catch with the caramel crew. I promised to take monie down the strip and as always I am man of honour so I fired up the JCW for its first run down the strip to put in some practice.
Monie would get her ride along later but new SNM member Carina wanted to see what the fuss was about and learn how to launch off the line. I bumped into a few MINI Torque member most of whom I met at the Midlands meet lining up to race.
I was interested in seeing John’s Hartge R53 Cooper S down the strip as the supercharged MINIs were quicker off the line as I ran against them last year but as soon as the turbocharged hit mid way through 2nd the turbo has created its whirlpool of BOOOSTTTTTTTT and the torque limiter is off allowing the 2nd Gen MINIs to take off.
Supercharger noise is cool but…
Go Pro strapped on the window we rolled down to staging line…
As I watched John hurtle down the strip I eyed the 1/4 mile strip visualising the run from lights flashing down to green to the ultimate pin down of the throttle to eeek out the last few revs to the redline to be crowned a winner or loser.
I pulled into the burn out pad and dumped the clutch with full throttle lighting up the tyres with the onslaught of JCW exhaust howling for the crowd watching me.
The official inched me forward to the line to stage as looked over to Carina and said ‘You ready for this?? Make sure you listen to what I am saying and doing’ She replied ‘Hell yeah’. I got all nervous and the lights seem to take an eternity to change as I heard the muffled sounds of radio chatter as I built the revs up to prepare the launch whilst talking to Carina through all steps of switching off the electronic nannies to holding in the revs.
The lights flicked into actions as the light up and the magically green light appeared I released the JCW’s rampant ponies to what felt like driving on grass then on to tarmac the as Continental sport contacts 5s gripped and hurled us forward with the howl JCW exhaust expelling ozone layer destroying gases into the air. Whilst the crowd watching me were on slaughtered with a satisfying deep burble base line of combustion noises from my engine and exhaust.
I took every shift to the redline which was met with the furiousity of my quick shifting of the carbon and alcantara JCW gear knob as the wave of turbocharged power dispatched the revs with ever climbing speed as we soared past the time Santa Pod time gate. It was all over in a flash with me forgetting Carina was beside me thinking how am I gonna match that.
I backed off the accelerated just as the rear end of the JCW passed through the sign and called upon the 4 pot Brembos to slow us down to ease our way into the exit and cruised to cool down the JCW down for its next run.
I brought the JCW around for another round of 1/4 mile madness and to go through again with Carina exactly how I launched off the line with more details surrounding the process of staging at line. She was worried about breaking her MINI and all said was do you race people at the lights?? ‘Errrhhh yes’ was her reply and I met this with this is the exact same thing but there is no police or speed limit ; )
This time around we had competition in the form of a classic Mini clubman which didn’t looked or sound stock with its low and wide stance. So it was game time to get this JCW off the line as quickly as possible and not to embarrass myself to Carina after teaching how to drag race.
I eyed my competition noticing the slicker tyres and the race suit with helmet he was wearing. OK Mr Racecar lets see what you got???
My Alter ego ‘Rally Ali’ had decided to come out to play with Mr Racecar. So visor down Mr Racecar as you will seeing my rear lights soon…
I didn’t bother with any flamboyance of lighting up my tyres on burn out pad but ushered the JCW to line and focused on the launch as it very much a battle with the clock and Mr Racecar. I glanced over as I staged and slotted the JCW in first whilst building up the revs so I can screech off into the distance.
That green flash of light came and released the clutch with the wrong amount of revs which left the sport contact 5s smoking away grip on the recent surfaced Santa pod strip. I rode through the smoke and low traction as revs rocketed to 6,000rpm and I slammed the gearbox into 2nd with the sound of chirping from the tyres as the boost and torque limiters were lifted from the ECU allowing me to gain the ground I lost against my competition.
As turbo came into play the JCW wasn’t having this classic show it up neither was I as 208 bhp can’t be argued or reason with as the JCW strided forth cutting the air. The JCW splitter sliced the air with the GP2 front under tray sucking the front to the floor and GP2 rear diffuser completing the full flat under tray system creating the ground effect.
Today’s first victim was claimed by the Dark Knight but driver error could have made it a loss.
Like an addict I was back round to drop off Carina at the club stand so she could sign up to drag race down the strip. I gave monie a quick call to ask if she wanted to jump in as I would hit the strip again.
I picked her up near the grand stand and she slide into the JCW bucket recaros but the action was cut short as classic Mini drive shaft snapped and veered into the other lane just missing the MINI on the other side. Gratefully no one was hurt but like any motor sport we were reminded of how danger is always present.
I later read the owner saying ‘I remember going for 3rd gear – I would have been doing around 70mph, the gear stick came too far to the right which means it had lifted over the reverse lockout, in my fumbling effort to find neutral it hit reverse which snapped the left hand drive shaft. The right hand wheel which still had drive because of the LSD locked or turned backwards putting it into the clockwise spin’
We were cleared to head on after a short break but we were down to one lane which left room for practice but I wanted to race the 1st Gen GP. I guess I will have to wait until next year : (
I lined up the JCW for its next run and looked over to Monie who had her phone out to record it all with a grin on her face. As I launched off the line again not feeling the grip on surface but hoping for a good time as my next few race would be ones that count amongst friends.
My young grass hopper wanted to take me on down the strip so said ‘Line them up!!!’ but I did pre warn her that I would beat you. But like any master I had to show my student who was BOSS plus I couldn’t be shown by a GIRL. We headed up to stage for the lights as I glance over to Carina with confidence I slotted the JCW into first.
I held the revs for the launch waiting that sweet green light to signal the JCW to take its next victim of the day. Blink and you would have missed me as I got a perfect launch off the line whilst Carina fumbled her launch with slow reactions and all she could do is watch my tail lights as I hurtled towards the line at break neck speed.
I rolled back to my SNM club stand with my manhood intact awaiting Carina excuses for messing up her launch but my young grasshopper has much to learn but given its was her first time she did me proud later on with her few races.
I powered down the JCW to give her a rest and me to socialise & eat with my club friends.
I went to meet another member of MINI Torque and my IG follower Joseph with his Pepper white Cooper S auto with French blue touches
His Cooper S has been some inspiration for me for future mods on the suspension and induction route.
I caught up with double trouble GP owners GP Garry and Rogue Rob who were at the GP owners stand as Garry was talking about his recent track day at Brands Hatch. I sneakily stole away Liz for our lunch date and spoke about my future plans for the website, work, life and me aiming to be a motoring journalist.
All topped up I walked around with Liz checking out a few of tasty MINIs at the show and shine stand
Cobra seats had brought along their show car
Personally I think this is the best Classic Mini I have ever seen with its rat rod look
I want to shake the person’s hand who had the inspiration to do this. You are a LEGEND!!!
After this MINI Madness I caught up with another lunatic who might be even more of MINIac then me. Yes ino its hard to believe but she does put up a fair fight. I am talking about Holly with her air bagged cooper but I can’t win the front of being the most passionate owner ever given she has the MINI logo tatt’d on her arm
ps for the record Its the only time she will beat me
She showed me how the air bag system work and why she went down this modifying route of low and slow. Like me she wanted to be different from everyone else and set some trends but she did point out it is a Marmite car that people love or hate.
Personally I am a fan of it with custom touches and the funny as stickers that still gets me is the ‘short arse on board’ and ‘I am not SMALL I’m FUN SIZE’. I see Holly can match my wit as well and its finally good to meet a MINI owner who travels as much as I do to events and is the same age as me.
Had to show her the JCW aka The Misses and ran her through the mods and the adventures I had been on but I didn’t have to point out the small mods as she was pointing them out as I unlocked the JCW and opened the door wide open.
Holly went away for a while but we she was up for going down the strip in my JCW.
I was heading down the strip as I saw John with drop top JCW who wanted to run against me down the strip to which I was game to.
It would be an interesting match up as the convertible is slightly heavy yet has the same power. As we were about to head to the starting line Christine waved me down to ask if she could jump and I obviously obliged. Once she was all buckled up we headed to the line…
Me not being a fan of drop tops I didn’t want to be beaten by one whilst everyone looked on from the stands with the phones and cameras. Little did I know a few SNM members and Mersey side MINI owners were looking on and capturing the moment.
I knew I had a fighting chance as my Conti sport contact 5s would give me the better traction off the line if I launch it right.
The little light trickled down to green and with a slight poor reaction I let the JCW off the leash with some wheel spin and hop. I rode through the tortured squealing of the tyres in 1st and when slotted her home for 2nd to what felt like a cut in boost.
My heart sank as the corner of my eye spotted the red JCW which I left at the line caught up to my B pillar nearing on my A pillar. As soon as my head turned to see the JCW my turbo hit its sweet spot of 3,000 RPM and over boosted like jet fighter with afterburners as I slow but firmly started to pull away again. Leaving John’s & his son just looking at me in disarray as we were so evenly match in first 500 metres.
I had the edge as scorched past the speed trap certifying our times for the all the onlookers with no idea what we ran or how close we were. I think that was the closest race I have ever ran but I did feel like I let the JCW down and I was still pondering why it cut boost.
After looking back at the footage it was hell of close race
I let off Christine at the club stand and picked up Holly along the way to strip again for last hurrah for the day as MINI Torque member Sachin wanted to run against me and had been giving me some stick about the wheel gap.
While waiting in the queue a catch up with Holly and learned more about her and her passion for MINI and quickly learned she got into the scene the same time as me and how far she has to travel to any event.
I prepd the Go Pro for the double trouble JCW reading themselves for the battle of the wheel gap and honour for JCW supremacy.
My competition was asking what was under my hood just we went up to line
Just a sports cat and strut brace whilst he was on KW V1 coilovers and running a decat which would give him an edge on the power front and traction front.
I shut the windows so I could zone out and focus on calming my nerves and ran my brain through the process of doing a perfect launch. Holly could see me being all nervous and said you physic yourself up?
I jokily said Tyrese’s line from 2 Fast 2 Furious ‘I got to smoke him’ then I said I will do the drive and stare on you as well…
My nerves built up as I eyed up competition as slotted home 1st and staged the JCW for the battle ahead. I was determined to win for the Mile High Wheel Gap Crew as given I had been given name of wheel gap warrior from Adam aka Evil from MINI Torque.
All I wanted was this victory and no one would take this from me. I built up the revs and waited the lime green light. The lights flashed all the way down to Green and dumped the clutch and wheels chirped on the sticky tarmac scrambling for traction.
My sport contact 5s regained their grip before Toyo proxies on my rival as both shot forth from the line. The sheer volume of noise bellowing from a sport cat and decat 3′ pipes of the JCWs reverberated Santa Pod raceway as we gunned it to the finish line marker.
I grabbed 2nd just before I hit the rev limiter
3rd gear came quickly in concession with me hypnotised to my rev counter to get every last rev before the redline.
Middle way through 3rd Holly said ‘You got him’ as my JCW began to inch past the red top JCW symbolising my inevitable win and crushing defeat as he helplessly watched as my tail lights becoming his runner prize for taking me on.
The win was sealed with satisfying egotistic gear clenching fourth gear as we glided to victory across the Santa Pod sign.
This was the last run of the day and it was a hell of day as I never lost any of my race and put in some good times. My last run of the day was my quickest strangely!!! I guess I work better under pressure.
This show felt alot better than last years given the number of people I knew this time around as well as putting name/MINIs to faces. I will be returning to next years show supporting some more mods….
Given the recent passing of Paul Walker alongside his friend Roger Rodas I feel obliged to talk about it given this post is all about drag racing, 1/4 miles and car culture. When Fast and Furious came out I was only 12 and the UK car modifying scene was small and in its infancy with its ricer/chavastic looks of Civics and Vauxhalls with ridiculous spoilers, bodykits and speakers. It wasn’t really much about doing the interior, handling or performance but all for ‘looks’.
I watched the 1st fast and furious film at my cousin house in London with awe of the neon lighting as this young kid tried to take on Dom to run in his pack. My cousin had a Honda Civic with this god knows what wide bodykit, Huge rear wing, decals, full tints all around, neon lights and alpine sound system. I thought it was amazing at the time as the exhaust was obnoxious loud twin tailpipes which could fit a small child in them. I knew from then when I could learn how to drive I would modify my car with bodykits and neon lights and I dreamt of having my own crew to ride along with. Alot has changed…
But I do have crew now but they are my MINI family who I call the ‘Fast Five’ who I shared the time of my life with. We have got faster as time pasted with everyone owning a JCW within our pack as Phil made the leap to his JCW Coupe, Christine with her JCW, Mr & Mrs King both buying a 1st Gen JCW and 2nd Gen JCW and Garry with his GP2.
Paul Walker and the whole fast and furious scene left a big mark on me and I will truly miss Paul Walker as fan and Idol. It was tragedy to see him go out like this and I woke up to seeing the wrecked Carrera GT on my instagram and I didn’t want to believe that he was gone.
He was a real car guy’s guy as he raced outside of films with various race series and had an awesome car collection including stripped out track focused M3. He was even an honorary guest to Mine’s motor sports in Japan.
My JCW narrowly missed out featuring in Fast & Furious 6 after I put it forward for the film as filming was being done in the UK.
I jokedly said to Joseph at MITP that he was Dom from fast and furious given his build and I would be Paul Walker.
But all I want to say is thank you Paul for making me smile, laugh, cry and dreaming big of owning a GTR.
I hope you didn’t suffer and I hope your family and friends can cope with your passing knowing you tried to make the world a better place with your charity and that millions of people all over the world idolised you and loved you.
Here is a link to his charity – Reach Out Worldwide
I guess heaven needed another angel…
Rest In Peace
Next Blog Post: My MINI Story
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