16th October 2019

Mini Mid Life Crisis.

Remember the 80’s and 90’s grassroots motorsport and a group from Lucas Aerospace joining A&PMCC. I was there, always keen but lacked talent. Used to run a Fiesta, then Escort and Porsche. Still am, do and kept the RWD toys.

Then career/family take over and cars stay in the garage for a quarter of decade.

Kids leave, you retire and need to return to hobbies whilst you still can…….

Clearing out parent’s house unearthed nephew’s rotten university 1275cc Mini. Scrap, break or rebuild. Make a cheap and fun rally car for the boys said the man at Minisport. Gauntlet was down.

2 years of stripping, welding, fitting roll cage, FirEx, seats, harnesses, painting, new bearings and a spill kit later it sat in front of an MSA scrutineer for a log book. It passed, no going back now.

First road run was a DNF with driveshaft popping out, easily fixed.

Useful experience said get it reliable first with plenty of seat time, more power in the future.

New helmet and Hans device followed along with entry to Clitheroe Motor Club’s Jack Neal rally at Blyton. Stephen Homes volunteered to navigate. Signed up for Fuchs Mini challenge to get some help.

Could still get into old flameproofs, mouse had eaten my boots though. Never mind. Yellow and blue Sparco holdall is so 90’s. I think it’s still trendy.

Shakedown at January APMCC monthly Sunday morning PCA was a DNF with dodgy fuel pressure regulator and loose tappet, easily fixed though. Might actually have to do this rally.

Scrutineered at Blyton, same as always. Blue sticker on helmet. Expectations not high with less than 60bhp and road tyres but good to be back.

Overnighted in the nearish Hilton, surprisingly good for reasonable money. Not into the 2am starts we used to do anymore.

Sat at start line and suddenly realised didn’t have a clue what would happen at the first 90 left 200m ahead. Hadn’t driven front wheel drive for three decades, and this Mini less than 40 road miles. Proper countdown nowadays, very WRC. No time to worry about it now, Go Go Go!

Guess what it followed the steering wheel and rest of stage nothing dropped off. Back in service, kicked the tyres and out again 30mins later.

After stage 3, bit of an oil leak. Pushed car forward so couldn’t see puddle anymore. Problem solved.

After stage 4, brakes were getting hot and binding. Adjusted, but problem still there. Never mind.

Even battling with the little cars, everything just walked away on the straights. Road tyres running out of grip on the bends but we (just) stayed on the black stuff and didn’t hit anything.
Hadn’t seen Mike my old Escort navigator for a decade. He came over for a look and a laugh, got some insults in, got cold and blue so went back home to sit in front of his photo album. Since heard he’s thinking of selling his 180mph motorbike and building a rally Mini.

Getting dark for 10th and last stage, lights on. Guess what, we finished. Near the back as ever, but we finished. Brilliant.

Stephen joined up with James and went off to do a road rally overnight then PCA on Sunday…. definitely keen.

Gone posh now so on trailer for drive home. If you must I can highly recommend M606 for a breakdown. Home by midnight.

Meanwhile Stephen and James were battling the lanes and maps of Lincolnshire.

Next morning met Stephen and James at February APMCC monthly PCA for a double drive with James. Despite best efforts of two of us, car survives. Still near the back, but Success. Two events in a weekend and no catastrophes. Amazing. Pint of 20/50w extinguishes the oil pressure light.

For me its about being there and enjoying myself. As much of which is in the home garage as on the track. I’ll never win, but once you’re over that it all becomes a lot more relaxed and fun.

Forget that rubbish…already got my eyes on sticky tyres and a potent engine for next event. That’ll do it.

So come on chaps of the 80’s and 90’s, now you’re retiring you’ve no excuses anymore. See if you can still squeeze into your old overalls and get out there again….before you need the spill kit for yourself.