Archive for September, 2008

Mickey and MINI 4 – Lots of work and lots of fun

Posted in General, MINI Collectibles, MINI Events, MINI Swag with tags , , , , on September 30, 2008 by minibee62

So I survived my first try at being a vendor at Mickey and MINI 4 over the weekend. It was a lot of work but I still had a great time. I especially enjoyed seeing how happy the MINI crowd was when they came to the table and saw all the cool MINI swag. And it was a kick to see people walking around the next day with shirts they got from me!

The most popular items were the magtastic grill badges and double badge holders from Cooperflags, the Small World Christmas ornaments, the RC cars, beads of all types, badge lanyards, magnetic badge cases and the die-cast MINI keychain flashlights.

One unpleasant thing was losing some items to the old “five finger discount.” One of those items was a $25 Cooper Flags badge holder. To the folks who took those things, I hope it was worth it!

The event itself was fantastic and everyone had a great time. It was the biggest ever with more than 270 registered participants and over 150 MINIs/minis!

The MINI crowd bought a ton of stuff and I will be making a donation to the Wolfson Children’s Hospital from a portion of the bead sales. So thanks for that!

I still have some items left and need to clear them out, so below I’ve listed my remaining items with reduced prices and links to photos of each item. PM me on SSM (MINIBee) or NAM (MINI_Bee) to let me know what you want from the list.

  • Cooper Flags magtastic badges.  photo 1   photo 2    REDUCED $5 each
  • Rectangular fridge magnets      photo    REDUCED $1 each
  • Round fridge magnets      photo      $1 each      
  • Assorted beads      photo      $1 each
  • Badge reels (assorted colors)       photo        $4 each
  • MINI embroidered patches     photo      $3 each
  • “It really is a small world after all” Christmas ornament     photo       $6 each
  • MINI “Jibbitz” for your Crocs      photo      $1 each
  • Magnetic grill badge cases       photo      SOLD OUT!
  • MINI die-cast keychain, flashlight & pull-back toy     photo   $9 each  SOLD OUT!
  • MINI diecast pull-back toy pen      photo     video    REDUCED $5 each
  • Motoring “E-Ticket Ride” ringer shirt      photo   REDUCED    $8 each
  • MINI Peace baseball shirt       photo    REDUCED   $10 each
  • MINI “Small World” ringer shirt        photo    REDUCED   $8 each
  • Thumb-sized RC MINI w/ custom MM4 roof graphic (only silver left)    photo   video  $10 each
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Holie autocross Batman!

Posted in Autocross, General, Maintenance, Motoring with tags , , , , on September 15, 2008 by minibee62

So I had MINIBee out at autocross on Sunday sporting the set of holies and Falken Azenis I recently bought. I really liked the look. I still like my Konig Rewinds better but at 12 pounds each, the holies are perfect for autocross and make most hardcore MINI enthusiasts smile.

The wheels, tires and all the suspension mods made a huge difference in the feel of my Cooper. Since I had driven off course the first two runs in the previous two months, I decided to take it easy on my first run. I just wanted to learn the course and get used to the new tires. That turned out to be a good plan.

When I lined up for my second run I could feel a wobble in the right wheel and heard a strange noise. I decided to get out of line to check things out. What I found shocked me – the lug nuts on all four wheels were loose. On closer examination I could see that the wheels were not flush against the hubs. I woke up that morning at 4:30 AM to change my wheels. I changed them one side at a time, torqued to spec while still on the jack, then drove some 90 miles to Tavares on them at high speed. How could they be loose?

I summoned my MINI colleagues and pit crew, Ben, Raddy and George, to take a look. George pointed it out right away…I had hubcentric centering rings on my hubs. Because I wasn’t aware they were installed with my Rewinds I didn’t even think to check for them. Instead of staying with the wheels they had stuck to the hub, preventing the OEM holies from mounting flush.

Holie humilitation Robin!

When I think of the disaster that could have occurred from this mistake, especially since I drove to Tavares at and around 70mph up I-75, it made me realize that changing wheels is no routine matter. Somehow the wheels stayed on and didn’t loosen until I did some hard cornering on my first run. Someone in MINI heaven was watching out for me. 

With my opportunity for a second run disappearing, Raddy, George and Ben helped me quickly remove the rings and get the holies properly mounted. Then I was off to put them to the test shaved two seconds off my time. On the next run I took off another 7/10 and another 1/10 on the last. 

My friend, mentor and autocross nemesis (just kidding), Ben Turner, burned up the course on his last run and finished first. I placed third again but I’m definitely closing the gap. Usually I’m about 2 to 2.5 seconds behind Ben but today I was about 1.6 seconds back. So I’m making progress! But most importantly, I had a great time with a fantastic group of MINIacs and learned something new!

“Limited Edition” thumb-sized RC MINI Cooper S’s at MM4

Posted in General, MINI Collectibles, MINI Events, MINI Videos, Motoring on September 15, 2008 by minibee62

This just in from the product development team at our headquarters in Twisty Hills, U.S.A. — thumb-sized RC MINI Cooper S’s! I wanted to have something for the kids in attendance, both big and small, so I will have 15 of these available at MM4. Each one will be modded with MM4 graphics on the roof. That’s right, they are “limited edition.” 😉 (Shown below, close to actual size)

These are 1:58 scale MINI Cooper S’s and they come with a cool “cell phone” controller and batteries. These little suckers are fast (just like the real thing). Take a look at this video to see one in action:

They’re rated for age 6 and up and are available in Chili Red and Pure Silver. I may have a few more products to introduce in the next week, so stay tuned. Also, in your goodie bags you’ll find a MINIBee card. Some of the cards will have a special mark on them and I will be giving away some prizes. So bring your card to my table and see if you won!

New suspension mods have me gliding the asphalt

Posted in Autocross, General, Maintenance, MINI Vendors, Motoring with tags , , , on September 12, 2008 by minibee62

I’m sitting in a Ford dealership right now waiting for an alignment. Why a Ford dealership you ask? Well, it’s close to my house and they have really good equipment and great service. The have the Hunter Road Force wheel balancing system, a snack bar and free WiFi. It always causes a stir when I come here because seeing the MINI is a nice change of pace from F150’s and Explorers. 

And why am I getting an alignment? Well, that’s the first thing you do after installing Ireland fixed camber plates, Koni FSD dampers, Texas Speedwerks springs and the new Texas Speedwerks lower control arms. Yippee!

All that stuff was installed this morning and I just took my first ride. Wow, what a difference. My Cooper glides now. Small bumps go by almost completely unnoticed. The real test for me was the drive across the Howard Frankland Bridge which is a three-mile strip of expansion joints. I could still feel them but they didn’t rattle the frame like they used to. Just a mild thump, thump, thump.

One of the issues with the cabrio is how much the frame twists under stress. Even with the M7 Understrut System installed, there have been times while driving at 70 or more on highway overpasses that the bump from the expansion joint has made the MINI feel downright unstable. After the Howard Frankland it was on to the Veteran’s Expressway, home to some of the roughest expansion joints I’ve encountered. Thump, thump, thump. No problem.

The TSW springs did lower things a bit, with about a 1-inch drop in the back and 3/4-inches in the front. Lowering wasn’t a goal for me as I wasn’t concerned with the way that looks as some people are. After seeing it though I have to admit the slight lowering really brings out the looks of the aero kit.

I still need to do some hard cornering to see if the changes will be as different as they’re advertised to be. I should have about 1.25 of negative camber on all fours after the alignment. With an autocross event this weekend I’ll have a great opportunity to test it out.

Specials thanks to Dustin at AutoXCooper for his advice and great service and for getting me one of the first sets of TSW control arms. They’re great!

A meeting with the minister of paint magic

Posted in General, Maintenance, MINI Events, MINI Vendors with tags , , , , , on September 11, 2008 by minibee62

After I got back from the Dragon this year, a large area of clearcoat on the inside of my driver’s side door bubbled and peeled off. A few weeks later I came out of a store to find someone had backed into my MINI and cracked my brand new rear aero bumper. And then a few weeks ago a valet parking attendant who insisted on parking my MINI, drove the front aero bumper onto a concrete parking stop and scraped off a bunch of the black paint. It was almost enough to drive an Miniac mad!

None of the damage was major but it really bugged me and with the MM4 car show coming up in two weeks, I really wanted to get it fixed. Due to the nature of the damage I was convinced it would require a complete repaint of my rear bumper cover and door panel pieces and therefore cost a lot of $$$. So today I drove to Orlando to see the minister of paint magic, Luis at Glimpse Auto Body.

In a little over four hours he repaired the crack in my rear bumper cover and spot painted it. He fixed the plastic door panel and applied new clearcoat. And he fixed the bottom of my front aero bumper with that special, black-textured paint. On all of it you can’t tell it was ever damaged. The total cost was about the same as I was quoted to replace the door panel with a factory-painted one.

If you need paint or body work, even if you live far away from Orlando, you owe it to yourself and your MINI to bring it to Luis. He truly is a magician with paint.

A new kind of Autocross – attack of the shopping carts!

Posted in General, MINI Videos, Motoring with tags , , , on September 7, 2008 by minibee62

They’re alive! This video features a driver with some mad skills avoiding an army of shopping carts as they attack his MINI. The “Jaws” theme music adds to the humor. Fun stuff!

Off topic – My Dad is finally settled

Posted in General with tags , , , , on September 2, 2008 by minibee62

My Dad moved into his assisted living apartment on Labor Day, just three weeks and one day after my mom’s death. This has been one of the most difficult times of my life as I wondered repeatedly if I was doing the right thing for him. Today I think I found out.

Dad, now 82, was a professional piano player when he was younger. He’s one of those guys who can play nearly every song you request and he doesn’t need the music. Thousands upon thousands of songs are in his head and they are conveyed through his nimble fingers. With no audience for which to play as he’s gotten older, he basically stopped playing.

Today as we were waiting for our table to be prepared for dinner I saw a piano and said: “Hey Dad, want to play a song while we’re waiting?” Much to my surprise he agreed and sat down to play two songs! A small crowd gathered behind him and when he finished they applauded. For the rest of the night people were thanking him and asking him to play again. Once again, my Dad has his audience.

To all the fine people in the MINI community who have contacted me with words of solace and encouragement during this difficult time, you have my heartfelt thanks. It is my privilege to be part of such a kind group of people. I have navigated this chapter of life’s twists and turns and now I’m ready for the next one. And I hope it includes a quick yellow MINI, challenging roads, the wind in my hair and some motoring friends in my mirrors. I’ll see you out there.