By Jerry(Siddhartha) Bradbury
What can transform a peaceful sylvan lawn in Gold Country into a carnival overnight? The annual Mini Mania Open House and Lawn Party of course! Those who were there got to see first hand all the eye candy, but for those who were not, the Mini’s ranged from an electric Moke to a VTEC powered Classic, to Randy Steven’s tricked out CVT to Robert Holt’s Purple Haze convertible to three full on Mini race cars: my sprint car, Jacques Andres’ enduro car and Eric and Colin Herricks’s rally car, and many in between. Redwood Empire Minis had the largest contingent as one would expect from their proximity to Grass Valley, but there was also good representation from NorCal Minis and one brave couple from the Southern California Mini Maniacs club.
Presiding over the festivities was Don Racine, the visionary founder of Mini Mania which is not only the largest aftermarket Mini parts depot in this country, but is now branching out to the international arena as well. Don’s Aardvark racecar, clad in all the race venue stickers of its long career was posted prominently on the lawn.
I spent most of the day talking with folks about racing and putting people into the driver’s seat of my USTCC race car. At regular intervals the whine or roar of an engine would underline the fact that dyno runs were in progress on the corner of the main building. It was a very popular attraction and many a Mini owner was seen clutching the dyno printout, while trying to find others who had less HP so they could gloat. Around noon a large group headed out for a tour of Gold Country roads which seem to have been engineered with the Mini precisely in mind.
As the day wound down, the silent auction winners were revealed and the popularity winners were announced and it was time to load ‘er on the trailer and head out for home, already planning on an appearance at next year’s Mini Mania Open House and Lawn Party.