I RAN WITH THE BULLDOGS...
MINI INVASION 2014. MINIs attacked Fort George! There is hope for MINIACs in Toronto (and GTA). After much anticipation and looking at the weather report for the day in question, MINI INVASION happened on August 7, 2014. Let me tell you right up front: IT WAS GREAT. Not perfect, always room for improvement but all my remarks are minor and really can not overshadow the greatness of the day in general. Let's start from the morning. For this occasion, I had company on my driver's seat: Adrian "Lightwrangler", fellow member of Toronto MINI Club. He had a mishap with his old MINI, and at that point he was still waiting for delivery of his brand new F56. It was so much fun having a company in the car. Not just for a morning traffic jam on Gardiner (Expressway) in downtown Toronto heading West, but thru out the day. We headed to MINI Oakville for a meet with the rest of the gang and some Danish "delight" for breakfast. Food was delish, but no salty stuff and no tea (what? Not everybody likes sweet food in the morning. And tea? Aren't we driving "British Heritage" cars?). But, as I said minor stuff. I'm just spoiled, I guess. After the group of maybe 30ish cars and drivers got together, we headed up for Niagara on the Lake for the main event. Now, driving MINIs in the group IS FUN. Driving it on the highway as a group is fun even more. I drove few times this route this summer, and this time there was no traffic jams and bumper to bumper as I experienced few time in past few months. Perfect! We made it to the point of getting off the highway, and after a short confusion on which exit to take, the group "regrouped" and my trusty co-driver took over the task of leading "almost" lost group of MINIs (by using walkie-talkie) to the final destination. The little "direction brochure" that was handed to us in Oakville was a GREAT IDEA, but it required for drivers to have someone sitting next to them (like I did) and direct "turn by turn". We encountered great MINI direction signs on some intersections, but not enough and not on every point of turning... After driving thru picturesque and upscale town of Niagara on the Lake, we arrived at Fort George, the final destination. Greeted by good looking smiling people in black T-shirts with MINI logo, we got our "mug shots" done by sitting in our rides. Another great idea! By the mid day, I received email with the photo. Fast enough to be spread all over my social media (ultimate selfie with the car!). Rock on MINI people! Then, we got directed to proper parking spots. Time to mingle with other MINIACs. Now, there were already things to do at the event: register, get swag, get water, try our luck with bocce, check out MINI merchandise and of course check out some cool MINIs... First impressions, good and bad: Good: great place to park on grass (no gravel to damage the cars), Good: nice layout of improvised parking, Good: great location in general. Good: we got free swag. Good: great "Johnny on the job" facilities (mobile bathrooms). Good: free food with selection from great Food Truck Vendors. Great: DJ! I mean, who ever picked this dude to play basically 90% of my "car music" gotta get a bonus @ MINI. I have been on many MINI and MINI authorized dealers events and this is the first time that music was appropriate to MINI brand (if you can defined it that way at all). All good stuff! Bravo for the "sound track of the day"! And, of course few of these: Bad: not enough spots with shade (few more tents scattered on the field would be nice). Bad: not a perfect timing on having the food ready for hungry mob of MINI fans. Bad: no place for MINI clubs to present them selfs. Bad: not enough classic Minis (like it was on a very first invasion few years ago). I understand BMW Canada can not sell any parts and services to classic Mini owners, but "Zee Germans" own this iconic brand and just out of respect and tradition, corporate wigs in Richmond Hill should invite from time to time all these "die hard" car enthusiasts. It brings the good in people when they see old Minis. It brings memories, and even more smiles. Just look at what happened at the YDS for the unveiling of James Hunt Edition F56 few weeks ago, when we had MINIs of all models and all generation parked TOGETHER (!!) on the main Toronto Square. Again, the day was great. We had a chance to spend time on a great Canadian Historic site (and to remind our self that Canadians really won the War of 1812, after all). By the afternoon after a great meal, good time spent with fellow car nuts, a photo op with huge Canadian Maple leaf (thanks Donna!), some of the drivers continued to Buffalo for the MINI TAKES THE STATES event, and the rest of us headed back to TO. Great drive along Lakeshore, stop for some fresh Ontario produce. And to top it of: one stop at the local Kelsey's in Stoney Creek for a SINGLE pint of Stella (yes, Mr.Ociffer, just one with a meal) and again great time with MINI friends. For closing, I will repeat again: Thank you MINI CANADA. Thank you Frederic for getting in touch with our club and finding time to get our feedback. Thank you for making me a part of the event and for using my images for promotion. Cheers, for many more events like this!
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