, August 25
Orange County Fair Grounds
Costa Mesa, California

David Haight

Mark Smith is truly a Rally Master. From running a separate time & distance section through the manicured, wide streets of the deserted Newport Beach/Irvine Business district to a scenic tour of the Newport Beach Backbay drive, followed by a pleasant drive that included a ferry ride from Balboa Island to the Newport Beach Peninsula and then on down Pacific Coast Highway though the quaint art community of Laguna beach his route planning was superb! Even squeezed in a quick loop past the historic Blimp Hangers of the El Toro Helicopter base. He rocks! The only whine was... Where the hell were the Krispy Kreme do-nuts?

There was the obligatory last minute mechanical problem just before the run. But every "mechanic" in the lot offered their assistance. Amanda, the now famous "Girl Auto Crosser" ended up getting the job done ? heater bypass hose, what else - by herself! And the third place finisher even won with out ever using his car. He blew his clutch on Laguna Canyon Road and was rescued by who else? Heritage Garage of course. He got a ride back in and turned in his sheet and was delighted to find that once you did the times and distance section there was no actual requirement to be in the car that you originally started in. Sweet! And this was after Graham spent a frantic morning shuffling cars so the Video crew could get a ride in a Cabrio for better camera work. He told me all the convoluted details, which I would have reported here, but my brain started to bleed as the whole scenario was explained to me. Let's just say Doug, his parts guru, didn't get to sleep in as he had originally planned! Oh yeah, there was also a lone Mini lug nut that Mark Smith found in the parking lot after the last car was out. He kept expecting an emergency cell-phone car but it never came.

And what rallye would be complete without a Bust! A Black and white Sheriff's car tucked into a line of Mini coming across the hills from the coast, right behind a Mini with a matching Black and white color scheme. At first we though it was just a case of a mother Hen looking for her lost chick, but noooooo. If you don't have you current reg sticker (which it turns out, had just been mailed just in the nick of time, so we can blame the DMV!), then you are fair game for the MAN, (Woman actually) in a bad mood. On came the lights. I made a legal u-turn - had to get the pic, you know - and pulled up behind the sheriff. I took a quick snap and was greeted with a VERY frosty "Can I help you" with the matching "Make my Day Punk" glare.

"Oh, no Mamn" I replied and LEFT QUICKLY! Josh took advantage of his baby face looks and used the "Oh I'm in a really Big Club event And I live over a 100 miles away, please don't impound my car" plea. And it worked! She did grill him though. "So if your name is Josh Sandler how come you license plate reads 'M COOPER' "? Followed by the stern admonition " You're going to need a smog check on this with that smoking exhaust!" Josh wisely decided not to point out to here that a 1967 car was exempt!

The only other criminal activity was SOMEONE left a fingerprint on the hood of the #500 Cooper Sport that was festooned with DO NOT TOUCH signs. And the fact that I had to throw in a plug for Viper, who paid for Mark Nerby's (Markyt on the MM board) registration if he would put their logo in his back window. How crassly commercial is that?

Within 15 minutes of the last car in Mark and his faithful assistant had the results ready to go. It was the perfect end to the best Mini Meet I have ever been to!

David Haight

Rick Higgs

It's now just after 2:30 p.m., MMW is over and Pooh is probably the last Mini in the hotel parking lot.

We had a great rally event out through Laguna and Newport Beaches, Balboa Island (by small car/pedestrian ferry), Balboa Peninsula, Carona del Mar, Newport Coast and Laguna Niguel before returning to Irvine. 60 miles in 2.5 hours. The weather was cloudless with bright sunshine. Too bad the country lies under a smog blanket!

The rally winner was the car #35 in front of us (#36) and third place was behind us. I thought we were close on the time/distance, but we must have slipped by a slight error there - I think we were early - and by two points in the observation portion. The scores were not released.

Navigated for Craig Jensen - who bought his first original Mini Cooper "S" in March for $8,000 US and spent $7,000 US - because when I got to the registration area adjacent to the hotel, Amanda's borrowed 1380 engined Tinny Wagon had blown the bypass hose. I fetched a new bypass hose from Pooh's parts bin and that was installed with a new thermostat and gasket also from Pooh's spares. She made a late rally start (#54 and last out) and I never even got back to the hotel to get my camera.

With all the service work going on, I didn't get breakfast, got coffee at the Balboa Ferry and bought a disposable camera for photos. However, there should be some good shots, including our Carmichael based Mini group of seven Minis including 1 Cooper "S", 2 Mini sedans, 1 Mini Moke, 1 Mini Pickup and the 1 new Mini Cooper, which we took in the lot before the rest headed out towards Ventura, San Jose and Carmichael.

There should also be a good still shot of Craig and me with his Cooper "S". During the Rally we were videoed several times by the rolling road crews and I was interviewed (with Pooh) after the finish for the meet video.

The ride with Craig was interesting because his Mini experience has been brief. I showed him how to get his sunroof in the track (was not properly installed) and lubricated, and how to clean and re-dye both his headliner and Webasto sunroof. Minicomp has installed a high compression head but I'm not certain about its set-up as we did not seem to have the anticipated power gain. Of course, Craig is perhaps yet to find it. On getting into the finish area Craig's fuel pump died, which was traced by Bill Gilcrease, who services the car, to a faulty electrical connection.

We stopped but were unable to help a rally team whose verto clutch had packed it in. Another local Mini Woody Wagon, in the hands of brand new owners, lost a wheel stud during the rally.

Several new Minis both "S" and Cooper took part and shared the fun. Nice folks too just like all other Mini owners.

Thanks for the encouragement for Portland and the Giant Slalom at the international raceway. I will air up the tires and push hard. Here, I improved my time every run and each run was clean. In the last run I almost drove Pooh out of its tire treads but couldn't catch the group leaders. Having run at PIR before, I will go for the podium with more confidence.

Will loaf here for the balance of the day, read a little more of Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, get a good night sleep (<5 hours last night) and hit the morning window - 10-11 a.m. - on the Santa Ana freeway up to the Ventura freeway and on to Santa Barbara, Big Sur and Monterey.

My plan is to return to Sacramento on Tuesday night, take Kent and the new Cooper up to Seven's new California digs and spend my prize $50 US gift certificate, after we get Kent's new weight set installed. I'll leave Thursday morning for the northern California coast and Oregon, getting into Vancouver, Washington on Friday for the All British at PIR after taking Grandma Curry out to dinner.

There has been very good response to the announcement of Mini Meet West 2003 in Victoria. Set aside the second week in August next year to come if you can.

Rick Higgs (and Pooh, of course)

Pooh, E-mail:  mhabc@telus.net


Meet sponsored by:
Mini Owners of America - Los Angeles