Sunday 22 September 2019

Mini memories flooding back on Mondello track

ALWAYS FUN: The 60th Anniversary Edition Mini
ALWAYS FUN: The 60th Anniversary Edition Mini

Campbell Spray

The most fun I've had driving this year was in a Mini. Earlier in the summer, I was testing a 60th Anniversary Mini dressed in the classic racing green colours with the black stripes down the bonnet.

I had to do an interview in deepest Co Kilkenny and knew I could take the day off to drive down, back and around.

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It was such fun, again doing what I loved. Real journalism, meeting and interviewing people with a story to tell, and travelling in a car that took me back to the 1960s and the era's dreams and ambitions.

Driving a Mini is always fun and brings a smile to your face. Still the go-kart feel that Alec Issigonis so wanted. The 60th Anniversary Cooper S Edition is a little corker and only 500 units are being built.

It will set you back a not inconsiderable €40,370 for a three-door automatic petrol unit which does the 0-100kmh sprint in under seven seconds.

Inside, there is a lovely "Lounge" spec with dark brown leather. Don't think of taking back-seat passengers - this is a car for you, and maybe partner, to enjoy real, exciting driving.

I was lucky that a couple of weeks later I arrived in Glasgow Airport for a trip to visit an ailing relative. The efficient manager at rental company Sixt asked what sort of car I liked driving, and, when I said a Mini, he immediately gave me a five-door Cooper, which added some fun to what otherwise could have been a couple of miserable days.

We even managed to get three adults in the back when a small party of family and friends met up for fish and chips on the Troon seafront.

For fellow lovers of the Mini, there is a treat at Mondello Park in Co Kildare today as the track's annual Historic Festival continues. The festival pays tribute to 60 years of the Mini, which includes classic Mini racing and demonstration laps. It is also showcasing music, period dress, classic air displays and, of course, motorsport. Races include the future classics, classic bikes and retro F1 demonstrations.

This lunchtime will also see a flyover by a number of historically important Irish aircraft. Alongside the track activities there will be displays of classic cars, motorcycles and planes, with the Mondello Park Museum of Motorsport also open to visitors, allowing free access to this unique collection of rare machinery.

Magee 1866 is also paying homage to the era, sponsoring the best historic dressed man competition, with the winner taking home a Donegal tweed jacket and cap. The legendary Paddy Hopkirk, winner of the 1964 Monte Carlo Rally, will also be there today. Tickets are €15 and under-16s go free. It will be fun. - CS

Sunday Independent

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