2013 racing season

Sebring, Florida – The MINI of Charleston/MINI USA/MINI Financial Services race team started the 2013 racing season off with a trip to the historic 3.7 mile, 17 turn, Sebring International Raceway. The world famous track has hosted sports car racing since the 1950s when Hendricks Airfield stopped training B-17 pilots. The track is home to the spring classic 12 Hours of Sebring, that draws teams from around the world.

This weekend’s event was the first for the Sports Car Club of America’s new Majors Series and a BFG Super Tour event. Points races were run on both Saturday and Sunday. The MINI team was represented by Robbie Davis driving the 2012 MINI Cooper in the B Spec Class (the same car that Robbie won twice last year in the Grand AM series) and the 2002 MINI Cooper of Brad Davis in the H Production class. In both races Robbie traded positions with Chi Ho from Orlando, Florida in his Honda Fit. Also in both races, the start of the multiple class race (over 50 race cars) created some problems for Robbie with Chi choosing the faster pack of cars to go through the first turn with and Robbie being stuck behind some cars that did not get off the start as quickly. Robbie managed to work his way back up the Honda and after trading positions several times, prevailed by the end of both of the 45 mile races. On the way to the Saturday win, Robbie established a new Sebring B Spec track record.

Also racing in the same race group, but in a different class, Brad Davis ran his MINI Cooper in the H Production class. Saturday Brad and Terry Boylan from Lakeland, Florida in his Honda CRX, traded the 2nd and 3rd positions multiple times while Jay Griffin of Titusville, Florida got out in front in his Honda CRX. Davis has moved into 2nd approaching the 1 lap to go sign at Start/Finish when something from the track punctured his right front tire in turn 17. Boylan passed Davis for 2nd at the start line and on the last lap race leader Griffin developed an engine miss, with Boylan passing him for the win on the last lap. Brad limped the flat-tired car back to finish 3rd. Sunday’s race saw Boylan and Davis again trading positions, but this time for 1st. However, while passing a slower car in another class, Brad got into turn 3 too hot (ran out of talent) and spun the car 180 degrees. Luckily he was able to quickly turn the car around before the other H production class cars caught him and he retained 2nd place. After a lengthy full course caution to clean up a 2 car mishap in turn 17, Boylan again took the lead and looked like he was headed to victory. However, sometimes you loss by the flat tire and sometimes you win by the flat tire. With two laps remaining, Terry broke a front body part and ran over it, puncturing his front tire and Davis was able to take the lead and win by 10 seconds over Tony Drum of Mt. Holly, NC in his Austin Healy Sprite. Rounding out the podium was Pat Simpson from Huntington, Michigan in his BMW 1600. “What a thrill to take a side by side victory lap with checkered flags hanging out the window with father and son together” said the older Davis during the victory podium ceremonies. “ I could not have done this without the support of MINI USA, MINI of Charleston and our crew members, Chris McAlister and Stuart Kestenbaum”, remarked son Robbie Davis on the public address interview.

The team takes another break as they prepare for the next SCCA Majors/BFG Super Tour race at Road Atlanta Raceway March 16-17.

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2012 Grand AM/Total Performance Showcase racing series

The MINI of Charleston Racing team concluded the 2012 Grand AM/Total Performance Showcase racing series with an excellent showing at the final race at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut. Lime Rock is famous for being one of the shortest road race courses in America, at only 1.5 miles in length and 9 turns, but it has extreme elevation changes and for the B Spec cars is almost flat out all the way around the track, averaging just below 83mph.

Friday Qualifying, in the rain, found the MINI of Charleston team on the pole with Johan Schwartz of Charlotte, North Carolina, faster by better than 1.5 seconds to the 2nd qualifier. Johan’s first drive ever in a B Spec MINI was extremely impressive, carrying the Sawaya Segalas/Endurance Karting/Instrument Mart 2008 MINI Cooper thought a pouring rain and never setting a wheel off track. Johan, who is a driving instructor for the BMW Performance Center in Greer, spent the weekend hoping in an out of a 560 horsepower BMW M5 into the roughly 112 horsepower (restricted throttle size to balance competition) MINI Cooper. MINI of Charleston team member Robbie Davis had a business commitment and was unable to make the first qualifying session and would have to wait until Saturday morning to make his first ever laps at Lime Rock.

Saturday morning qualifying found the track dry and right for Johan to again set the session’s fastest lap. “The handling on these MINIs is simply incredible, considering they are front wheel drive cars with limited suspension modifications. They’re a lot of fun to drive”, said Schwartz.  Halfway through the 20 minute session, Davis figured out how to move his MINI into the second starting position. Saturday afternoon’s race was set with a MINI of Charleston front row.

On the start, Schwartz took the lead and moved out of trouble as Davis got hit in the rear by Todd Buras’ Ford Fiesta in turn two. Robbie spun off the track and slid back into traffic, contacting fellow MINI driver Ed Magner. Both cars continued, but were a long way behind the leaders. Up front a tight battle raged between Johan and Honda Fit driver Joel Lipperini from Pittson, Pa. Joel is a 3 time SCCA National Champion in Showroom stock racing and knows his way around Lime Rock. After a tight battle, Joel was able to get around Johan for the lead, but the two were rarely separated by more than inches. Showing great car control and professionalism, Johan attempted every maneuver possible, except hitting Lipperini, but was unable to get back by him for the lead. At the finish Schwartz was only 0.143 seconds behind.

Meanwhile plenty of great racing was happening elsewhere in the field. MINI driver Brian Audet of Alexandria, Virginia was tied up in a tough fight with Todd Buras’ Fiesta for 3rd place. Audet got past Buras late in the race and was closing on the leaders at the end of the race. Meanwhile, Davis climbed through the field after his early spin, setting the fastest race lap in the process. Davis got back to 4th, but was held up by a lapped car in the last turn, allowing Buras to regain 4th, relegating Robbie to 5th place, his first race of the season not on the podium. “I wish I had seen Audet’s in-car camera footage before the race ended” said Davis, “if I had known Todd was the one that ‘helped’ me go sideways at the start, I might have made it more difficult for him to get by at the end!”

2012 Grand AM Total Performance Showcase highlights for MINI of Charleston/MINI USA/MINI Financial Services team (six race series):

Two victories (Robbie Davis @ New Jersey Motorsports Park and Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca)

Three 2nd place finishes (R Davis @ Homestead; R Davis @ Mid-Ohio; J Schwartz @ Lime Rock)

Two 3rd place finishes (R Davis @ Watkins Glen; B Davis @ Laguna Seca)

For the MINIUSA.com Team, the numbers are even greater:

Three wins (R Davis @ NJMP; Brian Audet @ Mid-Ohio; R Davis @ Laguna Seca)

Four 2nds (R Davis @ Homestead; B Audet @ NJMP; B Davis @ Mid-Ohio; J Schwartz @ LRP)

Three 3rds (R Davis @ WG; B Davis @ Laguna; B Audet @ LRP)

Additionally the MINIUSA.com team recorded four pole positions (R Davis @ NJMP; Ed Magner @ Mid-Ohio; R Davis @ Laguna; J Schwartz @ LRP) and the MINI Team also recorded the fastest race lap at every event of the season (R Davis @ Homestead; Chip Howell @ NJMP; B Audet @ Mid-Ohio; E Magner @ WGI; R Davis @ Laguna; R Davis @ LRP)

“What a great starting season to what is going to be the tightest, most competitive class anywhere!”, said team manager Brad Davis. “MINI of Charleston wants to thank MINI USA, Grand AM and the SCCA for helping get this great class off the ground in 2012 and look for great numbers of cars competing in 2013.” MINI of Charleston is the exclusive distributor of the race parts required to convert a 2007-2012 MINI into a B Spec race car for Grand AM, World Challenge, SCCA, NASA, BMW Car Club and Canadian Tour Car B spec classes.

For additional Information contact : Brad Davis MINI of Charleston 843 402-6551 or Brad.davis@hendrickauto.com

Photo credit to Motorwerks Magazine.

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First driver to win two races in the new, highly competitive Total Performance Showcase Series

Monterey, California: Robbie Davis became the first driver to win two races in the new, highly competitive Total Performance Showcase Series, sanctioned by Grand AM. Davis added his win this weekend at the 2.238 mile Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca to his previous win at New Jersey Motorsports Park. In the 5 races so far this season, Robbie has finished on the podium every race. The Laguna Seca race track features one of the most famous turns in all of North America, the “Corkscrew”. At that corner the track has an 18% drop which goes from the top of the turn to bottom of the turn in 450 feet for a 5 ½  story elevation change. With some of the most dramatic elevation changes of any track, turns 8 and 9 combine for a total change of 109 feet (10 stories). “This was my first visit to Laguna Seca and I used video games to learn the track and the proper racing line, although nothing could prepare you for the blind drop in the corkscrew” commented Robbie on the victory stand.

The MINI of Charleston team fielded two B Spec MINIs this weekend, with the second car being driven by Robbie’s father Brad Davis. At the start Robbie took the lead and had the joy of seeing the following three cars go into turn two three across on the first lap. Russell Smith of Gainesville, Georgia in a Kia; Jack Baruth of Columbus, Ohio in a Mazda 2 and Brad Davis of Summerville, South Carolina had an incredible battle for 2nd through 4th place with positions swaps nearly every lap. Late in the race Baruth ran off track in turn 7 and was unable to continue. Smith moved into 2nd and maintained that position for the last couple of laps, leaving the older Davis in 3rd. “We finished this car 2 hours before we had to load it into a tractor trailer for California. Most cars have some track miles on them before the race, but we were confident our B Spec kit works well right out of the box, so we used this race as a live test”, said Brad. “We put on Robbie’s used tires from the Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio races since we thought it would just be a test weekend.” Brad had also never seen Laguna Seca previously and “knew Robbie’s ability to learn new tracks, was much better than mine.”

The final race of the season is at the end of the month at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut and Robbie is looking to keep his podium and winning streak intact.

For Photos and additional information contact Sheila Thomasson at 843 402-6594 or Sheila.thomasson@hendrickauto.com

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Racing team battled again

The MINI of Charleston Racing team battled again for a 4th straight podium finish in the highly competitive Total Performance Showcase racing series. Robbie Davis took the first two qualifying sessions to learn the fast way around the famous 3.4 mile, 11 turn circuit that has been the site of the US Grand Prix Formula 1 races and an annual stop for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series. Davis qualified in the 5th position but wasted no time getting to third by the 3rd turn. Grand AM, the series sanctioning body, has dialed in the requirements for equal competition across several car manufacturers and the races have become such a tight battle that the winner is now determined by who does not make a mistake during the 45 minute sprint race. The Ford Fiesta team from Irish Mike’s Racing arrived with their newly approved shock absorber package and put them to good use. Todd Buras of Melbourne Florida lead for most of the race, coaching 18 year old Bobby Kennedy in the team car behind him. After a hard fought battle with Davis for the 2nd and 3rd positions, Kennedy used his new knowledge to pass his mentor and team member, Buras on the last lap for the win. Kennedy finished a nose ahead of Buras’ Ford with Davis’ MINI right on their tails. Following Davis was the 4th place MINI of Ed Magner and rounding out the MINI party was Chip Howell in 5th. Mid-Ohio race winner, Brian Audet dropped out after suffering a flat tire in his MINI in the opening  laps.

“The MINI was fantastic today, but the long straights of the Glen favor the Ford’s larger throttle restrictor opening. I had the handling even with the Fiesta’s new shock package, but couldn’t gain ground on the straights” said Davis. “We finished the race and although we flogged the MINI; the Continental Tires and Carbotech brakes both looked barely used at the end of the race. This has got to be some of the closest racing of any series in the country.” As a testament to Davis’ statement, the top 5 cars fastest laps times were only separated by .216 of a second.

The series takes some time off and will regroup for the next event in September at Mazda (Laguna Seca) Raceway in northern California.

For Additional Information Contact: Brad Davis

843 402-6551
Brad.davis@hendrickauto.com

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2012 racing schedule

Charleston, SC – The MINI of Charleston Racing team has released their 2012 racing schedule. The team has decided to concentrate on the new B Spec series announced last weekend at the Daytona Rolex 24 Hour race. GRAND AM Racing, formed in 1999 as a professional road racing division out of parent company NASCAR, is headquartered in Daytona and sanctions one of the most famous road races in the world, the Rolex 24 at Daytona. GRAND AM has professional racing series for the Daytona Prototypes, production based super cars and production based touring cars (the Continental Tire Series). With last week’s announcement, Grand Am now adds B Spec, an entry level class for equalized base economy cars to its racing portfolio, that drew over 300,000 spectators in 2011.

When MINI decided to team up with GRAND AM and enter the B Spec arena, MINI of Charleston, who has been road racing MINIs since 2002, was selected as the sole approved vendor of the kits required to convert a new car from the showroom into a B Spec MINI. “We were honored to be chosen”, said MINI of Charleston Executive General Manager and MINI racer Brad Davis. “We learned a lot about these cars on the track in the last 10 years and knew the changes from street driver to race car would be fairly easy.” MINI of Charleston saw this effort as another great way to promote the MINI brand and continue to establish themselves as the premier MINI racing dealership.

Team driver Robbie Davis, son of Brad Davis, will be the lead driver for the B Spec car with Dad serving as the test driver and back up driver when work schedules conflict. Listed below is the team’s 2012 schedule:

Homestead-Miami Speedway (April 27-29)

New Jersey Motorsports Park (May 11-13)

Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (June 8-9)

Watkins Glen International (June 29-July 1)

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (Sept. 7-9) (Tentative pending a West Coast Sponsorship)

Lime Rock Park (Sept. 28-29)

For Additional Information contact:  Brad Davis 843 402-6551 or brad.davis@hendrickauto.com

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MINI of Charleston made its public debut

Charleston, SC: MINI of Charleston made its public debut this week as the organization responsible for MINI USA’s entry into the new B Spec racing Class. B Spec was the brainchild of several automotive manufacturers that wanted to have a class dedicated to racing base, entry level cars. After seeing the first prototypes at the Performance Racing Industry Show in Orlando, Florida last December, MINI of Charleston Executive General Manager, Brad Davis, began discussions with MINI USA about getting MINI involved in this new form of closed circuit road racing. The class rules proposed allowed limited modifications for safety and affordable racing. MINI of Charleston and MINI USA agreed to have the Charleston dealership handle development of the required race package. A base MINI Cooper was quickly modified and sent to the Los Angeles Auto Show where MINI USA introduced the car to the press and public on November 17th.  Within hours of MINI USA’s press release, over 8 pages of internet chatter can be found with a simple Google search.

B Spec racing has already gotten serious commitments from 8 manufacturers (MINI, Honda, Mazda, Toyota, Kia, Fiat, Ford, Chevrolet and Nissan). The Sports Car Club of America, National Auto Sport Association, Grand Am professional racing and World Challenge Racing have indicated they will be sanctioning B Spec races during the 2012 season.

MINI of Charleston will be selling the kits to convert a 2007-2012 MINI Cooper into a B Spec race car. The basic kit includes a roll cage, racing seat, competition shocks and spring, racing brake pads, performance exhaust system and safety equipment. For more information, contact Brad Davis @ MINI of Charleston 843 402-6551 or brad.davis@hendrickauto.com

To view the Automobile Magazine’s coverage of the MINI Press Event see  http://rumors.automobilemag.com/los-angeles-2011-mini-is-ready-to-race-with-cooper-b-spec-car-89233.html

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Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin

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Charleston, SC  – The MINI of Charleston Racing team has returned home after a grueling week at the 4.0 mile, 14 turn road course called Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Both Showroom Stock B class driver Robbie Davis in the MINIUSA.com 2005 MINI Cooper S and Brad Davis in his MINI of Charleston 2002 MINI Cooper in the H Production Class, earned invitations to the Sports Car Club of America’s National Championship Runoffs. Neither driver had driven challenging Road America course, excluding some X-Box practice! Both drivers learned the track during the weeklong qualifying sessions and prepared for a winner-take-all class championship race. After a weather prediction of 68-72 and sunny all week, a front sat on the Milwaukee area and produced intermittent rain and cold temps all week. Rob’s championship race was Saturday afternoon and the track had dried some from the morning rain, but still had some damp and slippery spots on the asphalt track surface. Rob qualified and started from the 10th position and ran a smooth race to finish 8th. The MINI Cooper S, after winning several class championships has been put in a class with more powerful cars, including  the Ford Mustang, Honda Civic SI and the BMW Z4. Rob did the brand proud to run his fastest race lap within 1.5 seconds of the Class Champion Ford Mustang of Mike Scornavacchi of Manheim, Pa. The long straight-aways at Road America definitely favored the Mustang over the MINI. Our congratulations to Mike, who has shared positions, wins and occasional paint with Robbie in the Southeast Division SCCA National Series races. Second place was Lee Niffenegger of Santa Clarita, California in his Honda Civic SI. Rounding out the top three was another Mustang, last year’s champion Ed Zabinski of Stockbridge, Georgia. Robbie’s fastest lap average speed was 87.635, just slightly slower that the winner’s average lap of 88.449.

First thing Sunday morning was Brad’s race and the weatherperson again was asleep at the wheel with a prediction of cloudy skies and no rain until noon (well after Brad’s race at 8:30 AM). The team awakened at 6 AM to find the streets of Elkhart Lake drenched in 1-2 inches of partly cloudy for a challenging decision on wet versus dry tires for the morning race. Although the rain stopped just before the cars left on their pace lap, dark skies surrounded the track and the team choose to root for rain and went out to race on full tread rain tires. Cars on the grid made different tire selections with many on rains, some on intermediate tires and others on dry slicks. Wanting to use the full tread of the rain tires and the definite advantage of the MINI’s front wheel drive, the team hoped for additional rain during the race. But again the weather team was not cooperative and the track continued to dry during the 14 lap, 48 mile sprint race. After a good start and staying with the lead pack, the dry track dropped Brad’s MINI to 6th to 7th place during the race, crossing the finish line just behind the 6th place car. “Being at Road America for the first time with a brand new car, I was pleased with the results”, said Davis in the post race interview. “A top ten against 21 of the best cars and drivers in the country is nothing to be ashamed of. Any time you drive a car into the trailer (as opposed to pushing it in) at a National Championship race in the rain, that’s a good day.” Running on a wet-damp track, Brad’s fastest lap still had an average speed of almost 72 mph. The winning car was a 1985 Honda Civic SI driven by local favorite Greg Gauper of Hubertus, Wisconsin. Finishing second and third respectively were Dick Gagliardi of Arlington Heights, Illinois in his Volkswagen Scirocco and Jason Isley from Coto De Caza, California in his Toyota Yaris.

Also making news at the Runoffs was MINI USA’s B Spec show car that shared the tent with other B Spec cars from Ford, Toyota, Fiat, Mazda and Honda. The new class intended for base entry level cars (the base Cooper for MINI) will be a new SCCA National, Regional and possible Pro class. Rules are being established to equalize competition allowing driver skill to be the winning factor. MINI of Charleston is doing the development work for MINI USA and will be distributing the competition kits required to change a base car into a weekend racer. More details on the cars and race series are expected in the near future.

For Additional Information, contact Brad Davis 843 402-6551 or at brad.davis@hendrickauto.com

Recorded video coverage of the entire race is available at www.speedcasttv.com

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