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So You Want to Race Your MINI?

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Posted On: Jul 7, 2011 By: Charles Kayajian  Category: MINI Cooper News

Those tuned in to MINI-related news have been following the release of the MINI Coupe and its early testing at the world-famous Nurburing track. This clever promotional tactic by MINI has inspired owners of production MINI’s to test their mettle using tricked-out daily drivers at local tracks and courses across the country.

Race your MINI!

With experience outfitting and driving test cars at some of our favorite tracks, Atlantic British has provided a few guidelines and recommendations for the enthusiast who wishes to get involved in amateur club racing.

Where to begin?

Your first step should be to identify auto clubs and racing organizations in your region and do some research. Certain clubs are more competitive than others, but all will provide the information and resources necessary to begin racing competitively. For those wishing to race and connect with other MINI drivers, we recommend the BMW Car Club of America. Check out the following links (listed below) for more information:

National Auto Sport Association (NASA)

Sports Car Club of America (SCCA)

BMW Car Club of America (BMWCCA)

Porsche Club of America (PCA)

Next- identify a race track. Auto sport is a unique hobby and race tracks require lots of space, which means you may have to travel a fair distance to find a suitable track. With out location in Upstate N.Y., we have an affinity toward Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, CT; one of the finest tracks on the east coast and conveniently located 1.5 hours away.

(Video contains excessive wind noise - adjust speakers accordingly)

Before strapping in to propel yourself around a track at breakneck speeds, you will be required to log a requisite number of training hours behind the wheel at a driving school. Proper training is critical to the safety of all drivers, and is conducted on the track with an experienced professional by your side. Fortunately, most tracks feature their own driving schools, allowing drivers to practice on the track they will be racing on in the future.

I'm ready to race... but is my MINI?

Once you’ve completed your training hours, found a track you are comfortable with and researched the different racing clubs, you will be ready to hit the track solo - almost. Your MINI will need to pass inspection. Technical inspections are conducted at the track and insure that your vehicle is in safe working order. Remember that your MINI will be driven harder on a track than it has in any occasion prior. Therefore, it is important to examine your vehicle’s components, and upgrade any parts that may not be up to racing spec. We have outlined a handful of important items to review and consider before putting your MINI on the track.;

Wheels + Tires: Expect to greatly shorten the life of your tire by placing it on the track. If your treads are worn, change your tires. Many enthusiasts purchase a separate set of racing tires and wheels kept exclusively for track use.

• Treads should be intact
• Remove wheel covers/center caps
• Check tire pressure

Suspension + Steering: Ease and accuracy of steering is of paramount importance to success on the track. You do not need to swap out your suspension to race, but it may be something to consider down the road…

Engine: Insure engine is in top working condition and always use high octane fuel when racing.

  • Check for leaks
  • Make sure battery is secure
  • Change Engine Oil
  • Need for performance upgrade? Consider air intakes, performance exhausts, tuning chips and pulleys (for vehicles with superchargers).

Brakes/Fluid: Maybe the most important element to successful track runs. Like the treads on tires, brake pads will be worn down quickly – make sure they are fresh.

  • Make sure there are no leaks/cracks in brake lines
  • Refresh brake fluid – conduct brake fluid flush
  • Brake pads should be fresh

Safety: Not an area to cut costs. At the risk of sounding cliché, quality safety equipment can save your life.

  • Helmet (SA Rated) – check track min requirements
  • Fire extinguisher (within reach of driver)
  • Fire resistant suit (or, at the least, long sleeve shirts, no shorts)
  • Racing Harness/Roll Cage
  • Window netting
  • Remove any extra items in vehicle
  • Standard car insurance does not cover racing!!

I hope this beginner’s guide to racing can help steer you in the right direction (pun intended). Please visit our Facebook page and contribute any of your own racing images, or simply comment on the blog at

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