Charleston , SC : The MINI of Charleston Racing team returned home from Road Atlanta and held a successful retirement party for the 2002 MINI Cooper that has run since September 2002. In its’ final race before a federally mandated destruction (the car was a Portuguese pre-production model here on an EPA and Customs waiver for testing and evaluation), the red MINI Cooper dominated the SCCA Regional event at Road Atlanta. Although the 115hp MINI Cooper has less horsepower than any of its Showroom Stock C competitors, the MINI finished its racing career with two more first place finishes.
In the Southeast Division ECR Enduro series race, Father and son team Brad and Robbie Davis shared the driving duties. Qualifying 2nd to a 163 hp MINI Cooper S, the Davis Team held a solid 2nd place when Brad turned over the wheel to Robbie at the ½ way point of the 1 ½ hour race. A small miscue during the pit stop forced the team to bring the car back into the pits to secure a fire extinguisher knocked loose during the driver change. Just over an hour and a quarter into the race, the leading MINI Cooper S went off the track at turn three and made hard contact with the safety wall damaging the car and forcing the Florida team to retire. Robbie continued to run fast laps and with three laps to go, caught and passed the Dodge Neon that was then leading the class, giving the MINI of Charleston Team the SSC victory in the ECR series.
Running on the same race weekend with the ECR were the South Atlantic Road Racing Championship races. Rookie Robbie Davis raced the MINI Cooper in this event and ran a near perfect race finishing 45 seconds ahead of the next Showroom Stock C car. “I was thrilled to watch Rob win in his first ever SARRC race”, said Brad. “No better way to retire the Red Cooper then by having Rob win three of three starts in the car. What an appropriate way to send off this car that so many people have seen at race tracks and in the showroom. And for those that want to be polite and not ask – Robbie’s fastest lap was .2 seconds faster than his Dad!”
The MINI of Charleston Team will continue to campaign the blue MINI Cooper S in the SCCA National Series and has plans for Robbie to run it also in some more SARRC races.
In a related story, The MINI of Charleston Solo team started the 2005 season with a win also, as Mark Chiles won the opening SCCA National Tour Solo event in El Paso , Texas . Mark is picking up where he left off in 2004, dominating the H Stock class, winning by over 2.5 seconds. Co-driver Jeff Jacobs finished 3rd. The team will so be hitting the circuit with a new 2005 MINI Cooper S, in addition to the Cooper that Mark won in this weekend, when team member Jeff Jacobs takes delivery of his new car this week. Mark and Jeff often swap cars to keep the competitors guessing who’s running in each class during the regular season and setting up both cars for National Championship runs in September.