So, off down the motorway I went trying my best to ignore the drizzling rain that was the only downer on what seemed to be a nicely planned out evening. As it turns out, there was one slight flaw in the plan but I'll get to that later on.
An hour or so down the line I pulled up into the Jimmy Spices car park to be greeted by the usual friendly faces and stunning mini's that I've come to expect from the growing crowd that attend the Midlands breakfast meets once a month. I know this may be a biased opinion, but, compared to some of the eyesores I witnessed at Brands Hatch last weekend, it really is nice to see a group of new Mini's that have been modified in a way that, for me, puts them head and shoulders above any other new Mini club out there. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that other clubs don't have some amazing cars but in terms of percentages, MiniTorque is winning.
The cars in question on this occasion consisted of:
eViL's Green Bogie
Harvey's Brand New JCW
AM_AUTO's Wheel Gap Warrior
John's Leccy Blue 2 - Check out our article dedicated to this fantastic build here
Hudson's 3rd Time Lucky Project
Louis' Turbo Batmobile
After a brief chat we all piled in to the restaurant and wasted no time tucking in to the buffet that was on offer. The next couple of hours were spent getting to know some new faces, catching up with mates from previous outings and generally just having a laugh at each others expense! What you find when you come to these meets is it's very much like the forum - jokes and digs are plentiful...BUT...and this is a big but, when you're face to face with someone, you can see that no harm is meant by any of the banter; a point I feel is occasionally lost in the online world. Oh well, all the more reason for you to come to the next one and see for yourself that we really aren't as bad as we can sometimes seem behind a keyboard hey?
We've all had our fill and head out on to the open roads for a quick blast across to a photo location. Unfortunately, a few hundred yards from the restaurant we managed to pick ourselves up a police escort. Nothing stupid had been done but seeing a long line of modified Mini's heading out on to the country lanes clearly left him thinking it was only a matter of time. After all, most people with a vague interest in cars are fully aware of what a new Mini can do to a B road!
Eventually, he did move on and we were able to put our foot down on our way to a Graffiti tunnel to get some photos of the cars, which brings me quite nicely on to the slight flaw in the plan that I mentioned earlier. What we had forgotten about going to get some photos...in an unlit tunnel...in the dark...is that there was going to be a distinct lack of light. So, under the glare of Mikey's M3 headlights, Adam set to work trying to get the best photos he could before eventually concluding that the lighting issues were going to be too much for him to overcome.
A bit of local knowledge led to the decision to get back on the road and pop over to a nearby multi-storey car park which was fully lit so we should be able to get some better photos. Now, all night I had been eyeing up Chris's turbo R53 and an offer of a passenger ride was more than I could refuse. Throwing my keys to whoever would take my car, I sat down in the passenger seat already grinning like a little child. We only drove a mile or so to the new location but in that time Chris's car had made quite an impact; despite the lack of traction from worn tyres and greasy roads it was instantly apparent that his car was seriously fast. Like seriously. It seems a little unfair to have to call it only the 2nd fastest R53 I've been in, the other being Lee's Rotrex build, but that just goes to show the quality of some of the cars that turn up to these meets.
Now I know what some of you may be thinking, 'A bunch of car enthusiasts going and hanging out in a multi-storey car park, all sounds a little bit chavvy to me'. But this is one thing that never fails to amaze me with the new Mini. As people drove past it wasn't looks of disdain we were receiving for "causing a nuisance" or "making too much noise". People were looking over smiling at the sight of a car park full of Mini's. It appears that, even in this environment, the charm of the new Mini still brings a smile to the British peoples faces.
Anyway, enough waffling, in the new lighting Adam managed to get some brilliant pictures so I'll let that do the talking for now.
1.32am and I've just arrived home. Was it worth the late night and 200 mile round trip? 100%. For me, getting out there and meeting people who share the same interests is all part of the package of being a car enthusiast. It's not just about the aesthetic changes, the power hikes and the handling tweaks, on their own they are just money. Being part of a growing community, sharing that hard work and seeing the hard work of others, however? That's what makes me a car enthusiast.
To get involved yourself, come and join us at the most reputable Mini festival of the year - Mini in the Park 11th August 2013. Tickets available here.
Not available for Mini in the Park? Come and support us at the BigMiniShow, the UK's only dedicated new Mini event. For more details click here.