Maximum Inspiration in a MINI Cooper

In some cases you see that age is only a number with autocross participants.  Who knows, maybe it could be the missing elixir for regaining youth  Take the example of Gene, who I met at the 9/28/2008 SASCA autocross.  He’s 72 years young & having a blast in his new Mini.  I did a ride-along with him & noticed right away how serious he is; he has two CG-Locks installed, for both himself and a passenger!


On grid, ready to show \'em

This is his third Mini (the BMW owned, Oxford-built variety).  It is a 2009 John Cooper Works version of the MINI, with only 3000 miles.  Gene recounted that his previous Mini (#2) was an unnoticeable blue color & could not be seen.  He said there were a number of times that he was almost run off the road.  That’s why he got this highly visible color named: Mellow Yellow.  It should be called: Hello Yellow!

The end most competitors will see

Gene enjoys autocrossing and daily driving (& he’s still not retired, by choice).  He has attended a number of driving schools, especially at the Texas Driving Experience.  He was saying that he surprised (& kept on the tails of) many a Corvette driver with his previous MINI.  He plans to do even more of that (& pass some ‘Vette drivers!) with this new, more powerful MINI.  In addition, Gene e-mailed me a sincere award letter the Texas Driving Experience school presented him – here it is in full:


Gene or to anyone this may concern,


Gene what a guy, enjoying living and not wasting away.  As a quad bypass customer of 10 years ago, I am an expert on the subject.


I was very impressed from the moment I met Gene with his overall attitude and spirit he displayed while attending the Texas Driving Experience Intro to Road Racing.  Gene was very alert even during my vehicle dynamics presentation that would put the average person to sleep and laughed at all my old jokes.


He performed on the track better than most of the “kids” that were half his age. I told him that he is an inspiration to people 20 years younger than himself.


I run into people all the time that are 20 years younger than Gene and all they give me are excuses as why they cannot do various things.  Gene actually drove better and faster than anyone in the class with a car that has less top speed.  He was on a race track with cars with twice the HP and still kicked plenty of butt.


Was this a fluke?  I don’t think so.  He came back a week later and did the same thing again on the biggest track we have at Texas Motor Speedway, the 1.5 mile NASCAR High Banked Oval plus the 1.0 mile Infield Road Course.


So I say, keep rolling Gene, you may wear out in the future but you sure are not going to rust out.


Give it hell, Gene!


Don Barnes
Chief Instructor


Texas Driving Experience
Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE)

817.430.4343 Office 

Pretty awesome, right?  I aspire to have Gene’s attitude, vim & vigor as I grow more senior.

This sure is a tight, purpose-built package

To add to Gene’s fun quotient, he’s just recently joined Harris Hill Road as a member – note the window decal.

H2R logo (excuse the reflection!)

And let me explain the “FLANK EM” on the MINI’s bumper.  When Gene was a young lad working on the family ranch, his Dad would encourage his son the get the horse he was riding up to speed by having him jab his spurs into the horse’s flanks, by saying “flank ‘em!”


Gene is honoring his father’s memory and encouraging us to give it to ‘em & get going!

Racing Ready is rarin’ to ready ‘em!


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One thought on “Maximum Inspiration in a MINI Cooper”

  1. A great story. Inspirational guy.

    I met Bob Sinclair, former chief of SaabUSA, back in January of this year. He’s in his late 70s and was still drivng the skin off his Ferrari 308.

    He had a red Mini in the driveway too!

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