When I was asked to cover Mini Meet East for MC2 magazine I was requested to provide 4 pages of content, but they ended up needing to save on space for this particular edition and so edited my article down to 2 pages.
Below is the full, unedited version plus many more photos:
MINI Meet East 2007
by Molly Bunton
A Classic Mini celebration!
ï¿½.. with some new MINIs thrown in for good measure.
It is still a bit rare to see another new MINI motoring down the road, and it is rarer still nowadays to see a Classic Mini. So itï¿½s always quite exciting for the MINI enthusiast when you do see a Classic Mini in person. Now imagine pulling into a parking lot and seeing not one Classic Miniï¿½ not two Classics Minisï¿½ not even a dozen Classic Minis, but over one hundred Classic Minis all parked neatly in formationï¿½. everyone colorful, unique, and chocked full of character. Now add a touch of new MINI as well, and you have the very definition of Mini Meet East.
Over 120 Classic Minis, and 55 new MINIs attended Mini Meet East held this year in Alcoa, TN. Minis and their owners traveled from thirty states and four Canadian provinces. There were also at least four attendees from the UK.
The Mini Meet East is not a new event by any means. The first MINI Meet was held 35 years ago in Dayton, Ohio. Since then, MME has been held annually in many locations where Minis are loved across the Eastern US and Canada. MMC is not held in the same place every year. During each MME, the presidents of the Mini clubs in attendance meet and discuss where the next MME will be held. TN hosted the event 10 years ago, and their time came again this year with the 2007 gathering which was hosted by Mini Enthusiasts of East Tennessee (MEET).
ï¿½It was truly wonderful to see the year we spent planning and preparing turn into a weekend of Mini fun and smiles.ï¿½ Said, Donna Kimble, one of the event organizers. As with so many Mini owners, one Mini is simply not always enough. Donna drives a purple Equinox classic Mini, with a sun, stars and moon theme, as well as a Pepper White 2006 MCS with some Dinan goodies thrown in for good measure.
The event, which usually is held around the 4th July holiday, spanned four days from Thursday, June 28th through Sunday, July 1st . There were many official scheduled events, but as so often happens when Mini enthusiasts get together, there were also spontaneous ï¿½doingsï¿½ to join in on as well, such as runs over to the popular road known as the Dragon at Deals Gap.
Fridayï¿½s main event was the Concourse in which practically all the Minis participated. The Minis all lined up and were judged in their particular category. There were 37 categories this year, so, no matter your Mini type, age, or style, there was a place for everyone to fit in. It was a friendly competition, but it was mostly a reason to show off your Mini to others that appreciated the Mini-ness of it all.
The variety of Minis in attendance was extraordinary, which is not surprising since, like snow flakes, every Mini is different. There were Coopers and Cooper Ss, Mlk 1, 2 3 & 4s. Wolsely Hornets & Riley Elfs, Mini Pickups and Vans, Countryman, Convertibles, Clubmans, Kit Cars, Austins, Metros, Mokes, Foreign built, Custom and Competition carsï¿½.. sporting every possible color and variation. All Minis were welcomed and that meant the new MINIs were not discounted either. There were 12 categories for the New MINIs at this yearï¿½s event. The Mini Meet is not just a classic event, but ALL Minis, no matter what year, are welcome.
The Concourse was a good time to not only view and admire the incredible variety of Mini, but also meet other Mini enthusiasts, talk with them about their particular car and to share Mini stories. No matter who you speak with, they all had Mini adventures to tell.
For example: Hrach Chekijian aka ï¿½Mr. Miniï¿½ is certainly the ultimate Mini enthusiast. He was in attendance this year with his 1966 Canary Yellow Mini Moke. Hrach fell in love with Minis with the birth of the 1st Mini on Aug 26th 1959, and has owned one of every model since. He was a successful jeweler, but quit this vocation to work for BMW. He now works for MINI of Peabody, in New England sellingï¿½ what else: MINIs. 23 years ago Hrach made a road trip in the very same Moke he was driving at this yearï¿½s event (though it was the original green color in those days). He drove his Moke from New England, across the country to Denver in 3 days. Then on to LA, San Diego, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Cheyenne WY, Mount Rushmore and back to the East coast. He covered 10,000 miles on this trip in his Moke. Hrach lives and breathes Minis so if you want to know anything at all about them, Hrach is defiantly your ï¿½go toï¿½ guy.
Hrach Chekijian with his Moke
The Meetï¿½s main events on Saturday were the Rally, Picnic and Panoramic Photo Shoot.
The Rallyï¿½s final destination was the McCord Farm where the picnic was being held. Those who did not wish to Rally could participate in a scenic drive to the farm or, like many others, just casually find their way there on their own.
It is next to impossible to convey the incredible beauty of the Mini Day at McCord farm. The weather was perfect and the setting was idyllic, as if out of a fairy tale. Add a multitude of Minis and you have a utopiaï¿½ for this day at least. The day was spent socializing with old and newly made friends, looking at Minis, and discussing Minis and Mini exploits, as the multitude of Minis slowly trickled in and were lined up in preparation for the panoramic photo.
The panoramic photo process is quite fascinating, as the cars are carefully and strategically parked in semi circles with a single specialized camera on a scaffold in front. Once all the cars are lined up the camera starts taking the photo as it pans across the semi-circular area. The final result is an amazing 3 foot long photo where the cars all appear as though they are in straight lines. One aspect of the panning camera is that it takes a minute or two to pan from one side to the other. Because of this Hrach was able to appear with his Yellow Moke, on the left hand side of the photo, start up his car, drive behind the photographerï¿½s scaffold to the other side and thus also appear on the right side of the photo.
After the Photo, Shoot, the crowd dispersed with Minis/MINIs heading out to enjoy Mini camaraderie and more of Tennesseeï¿½s fine winding roads.
One Miniac and MMC veteran, who visited the Dragon for the first time after the photo shoot was Willy Stefansky. When asked about his impressions of MME, Willy, who drove down from Maybee, MI in his black modified 1961 MK convertible, said, ï¿½I just love going to the MME. You get to meet new friends and see old friends. You can check their Mini’s out and see what they did to them over the winter. The road trip to me was a challenge and an adventure. If she makes it there and back with no problems then I know I did my homework and built her right.ï¿½
Willy Stefanskyon at the Dragon
Sunday was time to test the Minis prowess and their driverï¿½s skill with autocross. A terrific aspect of this event was that it was just for the Mini Meet East MINIs and unlike most usual autocross events where you might have 150 participants, there were just 30 Minis ready and raring to test their skills. Having so few entries meant the participants got more chances to make runs and so it was an especially enjoyable day for all of those who like to race there Minis well as show them off.
Participating in his first autocross, as well as his first MME, was Sam Roberto, a 19 year old collage student from Springfield, OH, in his red and white ï¿½05 MINI Cooper. ï¿½I wanted a MINI ever since the first bit of news that BMW bought the company and planned to redesign itï¿½ Sam said, ï¿½The concepts looked unique and cool, and I started saving every dollar I came across. 3 jobs and about 5 years later, I drove my ï¿½05 home (I was 16)ï¿½ it was my first car.ï¿½
Said Sam, “I loved getting together with other mini enthusiasts who are as into their car as I am to mine. It was easy to connect with other people over our MINIS. There’s no car more fun than a Mini, the enthusiasts are just as nice, and meeting, rallying, and racing with these people/Minis is such a fun and fulfilling experience! I look forward to the next
Sam is not alone in his feelings. MME continues to grow each year and is very eagerly looked forward to. It is beneficial for the Mini community that it changes locales each year, giving the opportunity for more enthusiasts to attend.
The gallery below contains 133 of the more than 700 photos I took over the three day event. I hope you enjoy them.
Please feel free to post comments. I love feedback.
If you see yourself or your car in any of my photos, let me know and I will add your name to the comments on the photo.
Click on the thumbnails below to view the full photos and commentary.