More Mini Fun: Track Night in America

David S.
Update by David S. Wallens to the Mini John Cooper Works project car
Aug 2, 2016

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When we first heard about the SCCA’s Track Night in America, we pledged our support to the program. Here’s another way to get people off the couch and involved in our sport.

The program debuted last year, and we ran a few events in our BMW M235i. Fun? Plenty.

These are less competitive than other non-competitive track days, too, meaning that it’s not an automotive arms race. Lower-horsepower cars seem to fit in nicely here. People go out, have fun, and then repeat. Plus the weekday schedule preserves those all-important weekends.

This year, schedule conflicts have kept us cheering from afar. We finally made the late-July SCCA Track Night in America Presented by Tire Rack event at Palm Beach International Raceway.

Our prep for the MINI John Cooper Works was again simple: check tire pressures and fluids. This time we didn’t even need our magnetic numbers as TNiA doesn’t require them.

As a matter of habit, we did torque the lugs. As Mom told us, you should always torque your lugs before heading on track.

Like the Sebring club course and the Daytona school layout, PBIR can be tough on brakes. That back straight is long—we saw about 120 in the MINI—and it’s followed by a tight, tight right-hander. The track is mostly flat, too, meaning limited cornering speeds. It’s a lot of go, go, go followed by a lot of stop, stop, stop.

We again got three 20-minute sessions. For a street car running street brakes, our experience has found those stints to be just right.

As before, the car fared just fine. The brakes got a touch soft when running hard, but nothing alarming. Nothing else got warm. No limp-home mode. No issues, period. Here’s a lap from one of our track sessions.

Remember our old BMW 335i project car? While a wonderful daily driver, it couldn’t handle track laps like the MINI. It got a little hot under the collar after a few laps at VIR.

A common question was asked by others in the paddock, though: What have you guys done to the MINI? Our answer: nothing. It’s still stone-stock. Other than an oil change performed at the dealership, it is exactly as delivered.

It’s time to start looking at new tires, though. Yeah, 205s aren’t quite enough for a 2900-pound front-driver running an open diff. They’re starting to show some wear.

More on the tire hunt soon.

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pinchvalve GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
8/3/16 12:07 p.m.

Looking forward to my first track night next week, might add some beefier pads before heading over though.

chitownwrx New Reader
8/9/16 10:41 p.m.

The MINI looks startled, did a mouse just run across the track? Or did it step in poo?

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