On Thursday August 21st I had the honor of experiencing Hooked On Mini’s, sponsored by hookedondriving.com at the Thunderhill Speedway in Willows, Ca.
If you have never had your Mini on a sharp curve at high speed because in the back of your mind you just knew the car would flip over, this event is for you!
Hooked on Driving is a tremendous self-confidence building exercise that allows you to learn more about your car, and yourself, in a safe and structured environment.
You begin the day with an all-drivers meeting where the rules are laid down. Then the drivers break up into beginner, intermediate and advanced groups for training specific to their skill and experience level.
Up until this event, my Mini was relegated to driving to work, hauling groceries and the occasional easy-paced club run. Obviously, the beginner group was the one for me.
After our first session, led by instructor Gary Anderson, we were paired off with an experienced driver/coach for our first run of the 3 mile, 15 turn track. My first go-around, I kept my speeds down to about 40 MPH, with sprints down the straightaways at 65. I was still in “freeway mode”.
We had many opportunities to run the track throughout the day. I ended up driving about 100 miles over several driving sessions – that’s 35 laps! By the end of the day, with great coaching and practice, I was taking camber turns at 70 MPH and up to 100 MPH in the straights. Normally, my Mini gets about 28 MPG around town, and up to 40 MPG with freeway driving. On the track, however, I averaged only 16 MPG! Al Gore would be very upset.
The HOD coaches are fantastic. They always provide encouragement and guide you to push the limit of your comfort zone.
HOD gave me the opportunity to test my limits and that of my Mini. I now have a greater appreciation of just what the Mini can do. Even though my Mini is factory stock, I was amazed at how well it can take the corners and keep the rubber side down.
One of the highlights of my day was the opportunity to ride along with a coach in his Porsche. This driver had his speeds up to 130 MPH and about 90 MPH on the curves! I was glued to me seat. They need one of these rides at Disneyland.
I finished the day unscathed and with no dents or mud on the Mini and a new sense of how my Mini is a part of me both physically and emotionally. However, I still think I look silly in a racing helmet!
I highly recommend Hooked on Driving to any Mini enthusiast. This event has turned my grocery-hauler into an ass-hauler!