Mini wanted to race Porsche at Road Atlanta; Porsche said no. Hyundai stepped up, everyone shrugged, and then Mini revealed the track. Turns out it's not really Road Atlanta. It's a parking lot. We're supposed to get excited about this?
Guys. Guys. Really? This is where you're going with this? Come on. This is kind of lame. No, wait — it's hugely lame. Hell, no wonder Porsche didn't step up. Autocrossing is fine, but you're talking about a small, intensely serious company that once took on the world's greatest endurance race with a 200-mph, fiberglass-and-steel death machine. They don't piddle around.
Let's get one thing straight: Road Atlanta is an amazing place. I almost died there once, and I still love it. And even though the track's current incarnation — a smoothed-over, chicaned version of the gloriously intimidating asphalt nightmare that once was — is tamer than I'd like, it's still one of the best circuits in the country. Why the bait-and-switch?
The obvious answer, as the saying goes, is obvious: 911 on big, fast track is greater than Mini Cooper on big, fast track. A small,
budget-minded hatchback, no matter how quick and sprightly, is no match for one of the world's most well-rounded, purpose-built sports cars. Mini's marketing people are not stupid. The asphalt slab they've chosen to race on is little more than a glorified infield parking lot, and a stock 911 is not as nimble as a stock Mini. This probably ensures parity, or equal weighting, or something else horribly sexless.
Regardless, we're missing out. I want to see a Mini go head to head with a Porsche (or a Hyundai, or a tractor, or a three-legged donkey on roller skates) at real speed. Maybe the Mini will win. Maybe it'll lose. Maybe it'll stop off at the track's infamous downhill Turn Twelve to whip up a batch of figgy pudding and watch Monty Python reruns. I don't care. I just want it to happen.
This could have been cool, it could have been irreverent, it could have been fun, it could have involved serious speed. Think about it: Mini starts to lose? Fine! Maybe that just means it's time for some Harlem Globetrotter antics — get weird! Get funky! Get funny! Pull into the pits and cover the whole car in silly string. Park on the main straight, set up a few lawn chairs, and throw water balloons at the Porsche as it flies by. The stranger and more Benny Hill Show it gets, the better. But enough with the parking lot.
I know rants are supposed to be angry. This isn't Angry Sam; this is Disappointed Sam. Somebody needs to get off their ass and do this right. What's it going to take? Do we have to get involved? Do we need to find a couple of racing drivers, a 911, and a Mini Cooper, and start some shit?