When asked about my favourite cars, I always say that I have 3: The McLaren F1, The Aston Martin Vanquish S and The Classic Mini.
I don’t know when I fell in love with the Classic Mini. I can’t remember the first time I saw one, nor how I reacted to it. To my mind, they have always just been there. Maybe the fact that my parents had a Mini when I was a baby left a subliminal imprint in my head. As soon as I spot one, I squeal with happiness, day totally made. I love the way they look, I love the way they sound, I love the history. So when my best friend told me about the Oulton Park Mini Festival, it was a must to attend.
The first Oulton Park Mini Festival was in 2014 and I remember it well. We had seats on the Old Hall grandstand, perfectly placed to watch the cars storming down from Druids to Old Hall Corner, before screaming up towards the start/finish line. So many classic Minis racing that day. Mini Miglia, the Sevens, it was amazing.
Seeing Brian Johnson (yes, he of AC/DC fame, and a total petrolhead) race his Mini around Oulton Park was great. Watching Darren Turner (Aston Martin Racing) throwing a Mini around the track at least 20 seconds faster than anybody else was a joy to behold.
So I was sold, I loved that first Mini Festival. We decided this festival was going to part of our racing calendar.
This year was the 5th time we went and, as usual I was really looking forward to it. Just being at a racetrack makes me happy and watching Minis zip round makes me even happier.
We went to park the car and there were already some pretty cool Minis parked, so we had a little browse before going into the restaurant for some breakfast.
That is when we found out that there would be no Classic Mini racing. At all. It broke my heart a little. As stated before, I love watching those brave little cars racing round and you would think that at a Mini Festival, there would be some. To be fair, we always book our tickets well in advance, and at the time it is not always known what will be happening on track on the day, but if I had known that there would be no classic Minis racing, I would not have gone to this festival. This has nothing to do with Oulton Park and the organizers of course, they can only work with what is offered.
But being at Oulton Park is always a good day out, so I decided I would visit the Trader’s Market to check out the Mini merchandise. The market comprised of 6 stalls, 2 of which were selling car parts; the other 4 did sell some things with Minis on them but no stands especially for Minis or having a large array of Mini merchandise. My disappointment grew.
Of course we watched some racing on track. Oulton Park is an amazing track with great views and wherever you sit, you can always see a large part of the track. We watched the qualifying for the 7 Race Series (Caterhams) and the Heritage Formula Ford Series. We also watched the qualifying for the MINI CHALLENGE – Cooper S, Cooper Pro/Am and JCW. The latter series are for the new MINI. These cars can produce some awesome racing, but they are so not Minis. They are too big to be a Mini, and I really cannot love them. So watching them race is pretty cool, but it was not why I was there.
The weather wasn’t really helping either, so we decided to call it a day quite early on in the afternoon. Before we left, we looked at all the Minis which were parked out in the display area. Many of them so so loved and well maintained.
This will definitely not be my last Mini Festival, I will certainly go to another one next year, get my ‘Mini fix’. I know that Snetterton and Brands Hatch also host a festival, so maybe next year I will do some homework before booking tickets and ensure that I will be seeing some Original Minis on track.