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Mini's 40th Birthday Celebrations

Saturday 21st and Sunday 22nd August 1999

Well, I thought Mini40 was brilliant. Thousands of Minis, Vizzard, Moulton, Cooper, KAD, Jack Knight and hundreds of other trade stands, live construction of a Mini Se7en, Mini racing, club stands, good facilities, what more could you want for? This is by far the largest Mini show I've attended, it took over most of Silverstone and was, maybe, a victim of it's own size. Walking around the whole event took a long time and is a long way, but it's worth it and the weather on Saturday was great. It takes a while to grasp the size of what's going on. We left the car park by Woodcote A and saw a fair few club stands, shops and displays. We were busy taking in all the cars when some race cars took to the track, noisy V8's, so we walked up the banking to see what was going on and saw loads more Mini stuff in the centre of the track. Wow, we had only scratched the surface. And all this for a fiver.

We joined the queue to get into Silverstone at around 9.30am after an uneventful journey. We only saw about six Minis in the 125 miles journey which was a bit surprising compared to MITP where we saw loads. The only downside of the whole day was the queue to get in, it took us about an hour to get through the gate and the traffic jam seemed to be caused by a traffic cop giving priority to the other lane. Still, I expected a delay and we got it. The marshalling has already been commented on and it's true to say it was almost non existent. We followed the Mini in front and found the car park. We were entered into the Cavalcade but after a few horror stories of getting stuck in a traffic jam on the track for four hours we decided to give it a miss. This meant we were parked out of the way and away from the action. I'll have to work out how the same cars get the best parking at every event, maybe join another club.

Rover had a large presents at the show with their display of the 'new mini'. I didn't go to see it myself but by all accounts you didn't get to see that much of it. They were also selling the official merchandise, including those green and orange T shirts! Many famous Minis were there, including 621 AOK and a prototype Mini. The new edition Mini Cooper was on show and didn't look that different in specification to the Mini 40 SE. John Cooper had a large tent that displayed all of their shinny stuff and engine conversions. John Cooper himself was there and was getting a lot of hassle for his autograph.

The club stands were, as ever, very well laid out and had a large diversity of cars on display. From the regular special editions to a twenty foot Mini flat bed pick-up. Paint jobs were as varied as ever and this leopard skin Mini takes the prize for most outrageous.

Silverstone itself is a very nice place and after the preceding weekend where facilities amounted to a plastic cubical without running water it was a welcomed break. Silverstone hosts the British Grand Prix and so is geared up for 90,000 people and the facilities were clean. It has been reported in the news papers since the event that Mini40 is the second largest event held at the circuit, after the GP, with 70,000 people attending over the two days. There were plenty of food stands that sold more than the traditional 'meat' burger.

The Noon Lister's meet was another large gathering from all over the planet. Not sure if it was a big as Mini's in the Park but then again Mini40 was over two days and I knew of a few people who were attending on Sunday and not Saturday and I did things the other way around. Just outside the Mini World stand was a rough casting of an aluminium engine block. It was fairly easy to pick it up with one hand and the sign said it was being developed in Kent and might go into production. Keep your eye's peeled for that one.

As always the meet up is the time to pass on where the best bargains are and today's top tips were four Dunlop 165's for £80, a set of four Weller 5"x12" for £47.50 and two Recaro's for £160, all brand new.

After the meet-up we went for a walk around the pits. For some reason they were open to the public and you were free to wander around there. The Mini racers were all parked up in the main show area and you could easily view them. The pits were full of the GT racers, mostly big stomping V8's. There is obviously a lot of money involved in the class as there were a lot of hospitality tents and the teams facilities were really high. Loads of spares and Snap-On tool kits and Ferrari's parked all over the place.

For us it was time to head off home and we started to make our way back to the car. As I've already said, Silverstone is very large and the car was about a half-hour walk away from the pits. We had to walk back through all the trade stands and have one last look around, bought a couple of T shirts, got back to the car and set off. There seemed to be the same traffic jam that we joined on the way in but this way pointing the other way, towards the M1. But it was the traffic Cop holding up traffic so people could leave from the top and bottom gates.

In all I though it was brilliant and well worth it. It upstages all the other events of the year. Don't know if there will be a Mini45 as Rover is now BMW and the Mini will stop being made in the next twelve month or so. That means BMW won't have anything to gain by staging a huge event for a car that has gone out of production. If they do then they may try to promote the new mini and they would take the edge off of the birthday celebrations.

Happy 40th Birthday

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