Eight MCCoA Minis set off for Wellington to take part in the 24th Mini Nationals – unfortunately only 7 would make it - sadly Dave Bates Clubman spent the weekend at Waiouru and Dave continued the trip in Sarah’s convertible with Mark Turley in TUFMIN in convoy.
There were a couple of separate convoys spread over several days all heading south. I trailered MINTED and was followed by my daughter Melanie in Viv’s BMW Clubman BBEAP with her co driver Mami who flew in from Tokyo especially to attend the event and to take part in the road trip. Mami has a BMW Cooper S in Japan and enjoyed driving in NZ apart from the roundabouts that she found a bit daunting.
Richard Underwood & Haley set off earlier in the week and Keith & Jeanette Hargraves stopped off enroute to break up the journey. Alan & Shelagh Murie in their de Joux set off from Tirau and joined with the Tauranga and Waikato convoy that assembled in Taupo on Friday morning.
The Nationals were based at the Trentham Event Centre at the Racecourse so that’s where we all headed for registration on Friday afternoon. Registration packs in hand we then headed for Phil Deane’s workshop in Upper Hutt to get MINTED scrutineered for the speed events. No problems there for us but Richard Underwood had to remove his front spoiler so that they could jack his Mini up to check the suspension. We were all surprised that he hadn’t managed to rip the spoiler off on the judder bars in the ROW drive to the workshop to save the bother of unbolting it. Unfortunately Richard failed the inspection as his tyres weren’t up to WOF standard – but some desperate ringing around Wellington’s tyre shops found a couple of new tyres which made him a happy boy. Several other competitors had minor problems but Phil and the MOWOG team did a great job working late into the night repairing a number of Minis so that they could all take part in the speed events.
Then it was back to Trentham for the Presidents Meeting where we discussed where the next couple of Nationals will be held and some comments about the Show & Shine classes which is often a contentious issue.
2019 : Tauranga; 2020 : Canterbury; 2021 : Hawkes Bay
Saturday morning we left our Petone motel early to head down the motorway into central Wellington to Waitangi Park on the waterfront just alongside Te Papa. The park was already filling up with a great variety of Minis – all arranged in the variety of classes for judging. The Mini clubs had been asked to assist MOWOG in the judging so I volunteered & teamed up with Barry from Canterbury to score the boots & various load areas of utes, Estates, Vans & Mokes. 20 points for an immaculate boot (there were a couple) 12 points for an average well used original tidy boot & 5 points for a dirty, untidy boot and everything inbetween. Other judges looked at paintwork, interiors, engines & underbody – max possible score 100 points. I don’t think anyone scored 100 but there were some amazing Minis on show.
During the morning the rocker cover racing got underway, that looked well supported and some interesting racers lined up on the 4 lane ramp.
Around midday the Peoples Choice Award was given to the red Mini Van from MOWOG – this van won the show at Hamilton as well and it was a worthy winner.
We now lined up to exit the park to take part in the Navigation trial. It took more than an hour to get all the Minis out of the park and into Wellingtons busy narrow roads. I had my son Nick as navigator in MINTED & Viv, Melanie & Mami were in BBEAP.
As usual there were several courses so there were Minis going in all directions – one way roads up to Mt Victoria with a great view over the city and the upside down map of NZ which was one of the questions to be answered. The Thunderbird car club were also in Wellington for the weekend and were parked up at Mt Vic when we got there and we followed them down the hill, those cars are huge and didn’t have much room to manoeuvre on these roads, which made me happy to be in a Mini. Then we were off to Karori and great twisty roads out to the wild west coast at Makara – the 1st check point. Time for a break, stretch the legs, check with others what questions they had got (or missed) – there was a challenge here to choose between throwing quoits or gathering 1kg of rocks from the beach. Closest to 1kg wins, Nick chose the quoits and got a couple on.
We collected the next set of instructions and set off again towards Johnsonville (apparently) and more great roads before heading to the finish at Petone – into a factory to select the 2nd challenge – either archery or remote control car motorkhana. I chose archery and hit the target 3 out of 4 shots, don’t know how that affected our overall score but it was fun. Back to Trentham now for the 5pm photo shoot, all the Minis lined up by colour as they arrived in front of the multistory complex which was perfect for taking photos of the assembled Minis. They looked like Dinky toys from the height we were viewing them from, and everyone got great photos.
The bar was open so drinks were had, tales told, friendships renewed, then later pizza was served before the showing of a Bollywood movie. I believe that it was filmed in NZ and featured 3 Minis and the word was that the reviews were not so good so we headed back to the motel to clean out MINTED and change the wheels to the A032’s on front and skinnies on the back for the motorkhana next morning.
Sunday morning was an early start for the speed events which were on closed industrial roads behind the Trentham Army Camp.
There was an alternative scenic tour put on for those not taking part in the speed events, by all reports they had a great time out and about around Wellington.
There were about 50 competitors entered for the Motorkhana & Autocross and there were 2 motorkhana courses set up in the morning to keep things ticking along. Two timed runs on each course, no practice. Both courses involved reversing into garages and the 2nd course also involved placing tennis balls into a bucket mid course, unless you stopped alongside the bucket it was hit or miss if the ball stayed in the bucket. We didn’t know if the bonus for balls in the bucket was greater than the time penalty for slowing down at the bucket – no one seemed to know (or care) most just threw the balls out the window as they went past as fast as they could. After lunch the Autocross course was set up which extended around a 90 degree corner and 180 degree turn back to the start and repeat (2 laps) to finish in the garage without hitting the end wall (Big Cone). One practice run then 2 timed runs, this was so much fun and Nick, Keith, Richard and I were watching each others times to see who would be quickest from MCCoA. I touched the big cone (apparently) so scored a DNF for my first timed run so had to be careful on my next run to get a time recorded. There were some very quick Minis but this year the course was too tight for the BMW MINIs. MOWOG withheld the times on the final run until the Prize Giving.
Everyone had finished their runs by 5pm so it was back to our motels to tidy up for the Prize Giving back at the Trentham Events Centre.
We were treated to a great meal, and then Jess from MOWOG got underway with the Awards – Show & Shine winners for 12 different classes plus Peoples Choice mentioned before.
Some classes had only a couple of entries and others like Class 4 –MKIV Onwards had 37 entries – Keith Hargraves won 2nd place in this class with his 1994 Rover Mini Cooper. Richard was also entered in this class.
MINTED was entered in Class 11 for Modified Minis with LVV Cert plates where there were 37 entries – Mark & Sarah were also in this class.
No other prizes for MCCoA but I did win a Mini USB stick as a raffle prize.
The speed events and navigational trial were all won by Carl Celeste (MOWOG) and he also won the Overall Nationals prize in his very quick 1975 Morris Mini. He also should have received the prize for the dirtiest Mini at the Show & Shine.
At the end of the Prize Giving the Tauranga club were handed the key to next years event & Tim Sinclair (ex MCCOA now TMOC Treasurer) told us what they had planned for next year, the 25th Mini Nationals & the Mini’s 60th Birthday Party – I plan to be there for the beach party at the Mount.
Congratulations to MOWOG for putting on a tremendous event – to Wellington for spoiling us with great weather (it didn’t rain) – and to all the Mini enthusiasts who took part in the 24th Mini Nationals.
PS Dave’s Clubman made it back from Waiouru safely on the back of a transporter – sounds like it was a leaky inlet manifold gasket that was the problem.