77MM: Mini Racing, Maximum Commitment

Before this weekend, I had zero interest in Mini racing.

Now? I’m hooked. Sign me up. Classic Mini racing is probably one of the most exciting niches I’ve discovered so far.


Undoubtedly the classic Mini is an incredibly amicable car, and I’ve been around enough to know what I like and what I don’t, but on the whole they’ve never really grabbed my attention. Let’s just say the Mini has never been a car that I’ve wanted to own.

That in itself is a bold statement, as my ‘list of cars that I want to own’ grows worryingly by the day.

But after seeing 30+ Minis at a time, hurtling around Goodwood Motor Circuit this past weekend, I fully understand why so many people are obsessed by them. I guess it’s a similar mentality to driving an underpowered car on the road – it’s often far more fun and rewarding to drive a slower car fast than a fast car, fast.


Forget the gorgeous McLaren F1 on track, or the Senna GTR that was blasting around during the 77th Members’ Meeting. Never mind the Group One touring cars thundering around the circuit, the gaggle of Porsche 917s gingerly lapping, or David Coulthard skillfully sliding a priceless Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing through the final chicane, we’ll cover all of that in our main gallery, to follow.


Those with the biggest smiles on their faces were undoubtedly the ones crammed into the tiny cockpits of pre-1966 Minis during the 77MM Betty Richmond Trophy.


Mini racing is insane. And I never expected to enjoy watching it so much. Why would you want more when you can have this much fun with just 125hp?

When it comes to racing a car like the Mini, at a fast circuit like Goodwood momentum is everything. Carrying speed through terrifyingly fast corners, with little to no run-off and on relatively narrow rubber relies on both the driver’s nerve, and their ability to make the car dance through the turns.


With several fairly long and fast straights, corner exit speed was clearly the best way to climb positions when the Minis took to the circuit. It was thrilling to watch as one car just managed to edge past another before the next apex, sometimes making it through with inches to spare, and at other times over-cooking it and taking too much apex on the way out, conceding the position immediately.


I’m no stranger to seeing a skilled driver pitch a car into a corner with weight transfer, inciting oversteer in order to help turn-in, but seeing a packed grid of Minis – sometimes three or four abreast – coming into Woodcote corner, all of them four-wheel sliding towards the apex yet at absolute full throttle was truly mind-blowing.


You’d be forgiven for thinking that, at an event like Members’ Meeting where almost every car on the grid was restored to such a high standard, the racing would be more of a procession than a competition. But you couldn’t be more wrong. The competition here is fierce.

Right from the get-go there was one pairing that everyone was watching – racing driver and Mini tuning guru Nick Swift facing off against his namesake, Nick Padmore, as they swapped lead position lap upon lap, much to the pleasure of the crowd. These were proper goosebumps moments.


Without doubt, this was some of the closest and most exciting racing that I’ve witnessed live. Every single driver out there looked to be giving it 110%, and in any one given race throughout the weekend we saw cars trading paint, pieces of trim going flying, one high speed very close-call with a near rollover, and multiple overtakes and battles for the lead.


With this year marking the 60th anniversary of the great Mini, a roster of 60 race-tuned pre-’66 specimens of the petit classic took over at this years Goodwood Members’ Meeting – a fitting tribute I think.


The Betty Richmond Trophy, named after the current Duke of Richmond’s grandmother due to her love of the automotive cult classic, would see all 60 entrants dual it out over two qualifying sessions, followed by two heats and then a final.


Ultimately, Swift went on to take the victory in Sunday’s final in a dramatic last-corner overtake of Padmore after the two once again swapped places multiple times throughout the race.

No words that I can write will do justice to the incredible action we saw on track, so sit back and enjoy Goodwood’s excellent coverage of the action.

Jordan Butters
Instagram: jordanbutters



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something about seeing minis being pushed hard and watching them over-steer is so fun to watch.


"it’s often far more fun and rewarding to drive a slower car fast than a fast car, fast."

Stopped reading after this. Why tf do people think this is a thing? It's fun to drive fast cars fast. A good car is a good car lol. Such nonsense.


Anyone can drive a fast car, fast - there’s only one pedal you really need for that part. But to drive a slow car fast takes skill, and *in my opinion* is *often* far more rewarding.


Why tf do people think this is a thing?

While everyone else has made valid points, let me try another angle. Not everyone has enough money to bin a truly fast car and walk away from it, while slower cars are usually much more budget friendly and thus easier to walk away from. This changes the risk analysis dynamic in a drivers mind and allows a driver to push closer to the edge of traction with a slower and less expensive car.

For example; say you have two choices of car to drive at the track, a bone stock NA miata and a current Mclaren. Now the mclaren will absolutely give you more performance at the track and even driving it at 50% you will average better laptimes than the miata but how close to 10/10 ths are you really going to drive the Mclaren knowing in your head that the cost of a mistake is much higher. Now combine that with the fact that slower cars give you a much larger opportunity to actually save the car should you have a mistake and if you dont manage to save it then you are only our the fraction of the cost of the faster car.

Now you may be the kind of person who considers fast cars pocket change and if thats the case, then good on you, drive what ever you want. Most people exist on some sort of budget and in the end it usually comes down to the risk and cost analysis and the lower cost of a slow car means that there is more time to enjoy the driving and less time worrying about repair bills.


You're kind of off with your statement, it goes "It's more fun to drive a SLOW car FAST, than a FAST car SLOW".

If you got sat in a 950hp LeMans car, you would only be able to drive the vehicle at 50% of its full potential, due to the massive lack of skill (not an insult, just a general fact, unless you're a LeMans or Race driver). However, hop into a buttoned up well modded 100-250hp car and wa-la, now you can fully push the vehicle right to its limit (even at these lower power levels it can generate sketchy amounts of speed). This it allows you to fully push your skills, and the car, to the limits.

This develops skill. It also develops smiles and talent.


grow up you wanker


Not really: A fast car is way more forgiving when you make a mistake. The reason being: Power in droves. Brake to soon on low powered car and you cant make up the speed in the straights. With a fast car you can compensate, with a slow car you cant.


Hence why being able to drive slow cars fast is way more rewarding.


And its also one of the reasons a lot of (ex-) F1 drivers have a particularly small car in there collection. Micheal Schumacher, Alonso, etc....


It sure is!


Some people (including me) feel guilty for driving cars that they cannot extract the full potential out of. It takes a lot less time to master a mini compared to a full blown lemans racecar. Thats where the whole slow car fast thing comes from.


Perhaps it's because very few of us have the skills required to drive a genuinely fast car at 10/10ths? Not everyone is Craig Lowndes, Michelle Mouton, or Tom Kristiansen. The skill and commitment required to push a fast car to the absolute limit is something I could never hope to have. But I enjoy driving my MX5 quickly, using much of its (and my) capacity. Could I do that in a McLaren or somesuch? Hell no.


because it is more mentally taxing and smaller margin of error for driving fast car at the limit compared to a slow car at the limit? sure it can be fun as well but there isn't much place to do it safely other than the tracks and closed circuits/roads. and you wont be breaking many laws on the road if you drive slow car fast than fast car fast.


More fun to drive a slow car at 10/10ths than it is to drive a fast car at 6/10ths.


I like how you think people only drive fast cars at 6/10ths. You know some people drive fast cars fast too right? You guys all seem confused.


You know some people drive fast cars fast too right? You guys all seem confused.

I think you may be confused, people may drive fast cars fast but they definitely don't drive them any where near the limit compared to slower cars. In a slower car there is just more time to react so it is easier to drive to the limit and as the cars get quicker that limit and the safety margin comes on much quicker and is a much smaller window. Then there is the inevitable consequences of making a mistake, putting a car into the wall at 100 is much less costly (both in money and possible injury) than putting a car into the wall at 200. The point is that everyone subconsciously understands these differences and is more willing to push closer to the limit in slower cars. The reason that pro drivers are pro drivers is because they train to push past the subconscious limits of the mind and have enough seat time to actually find the limit of the cars, it also helps when the repairs don't come out of their own pockets.

Joachim Taverne

As much as most of the reader love speed, we mostly drive on open roads ...
And even if you don't care about speed tickets/limits, depending where you live road surfaces can be very far from track ones.
In those conditions, claiming to drive (really) fast car 10/10 is either being completely reckless or overestimated your driving skills.


I like how you think everyone is capable of driving a fast car at 10/10ths. What you think is 10/10ths and what actually is 10/10ths are probably 2 separate things.

A slow car at 10/10ths is achievable for almost anyone, a fast car at 10/10ths requires skills that most casual drivers don't have.

I'm basing my opinion on personal experience as an amateur looking at it from a casual point of view, not on what seasoned race drivers are capable of. Maybe you should do the same.


"Why tf do people think this is a thing?"

B/c it's true?


Cause it is a thing. It is a lot more fun to drive a slow car fast, ie at its limit... than a fast car fast, that is well within it's limit.

Joachim Taverne

I used to make fun of my brother-in-law when I saw the smile he had at the wheel of his mini.
And then one day I had one. Yes, it's not a monster of power or speed but it was so much fun on the small roads of the European countryside.
I still regret having to sell it (but my back thanks me though. If you are 1m80 or more, it is clearly not the best choice of car).
You had to try one to understand it (at least on european roads. Not sure that it will be so fun on big american style roads though )


THE best racing I have ever seen, just so much fun seeing these little cars squirm around and jostle for position


Sensational viewing!!! Great photography... wonderful, pure, and highly desirable little thoroughbreds.


Slow car fast, now i own an MX5 i can fully appreciate that. It's all about momentum and flow instead of brake and squirt, a lot of fun. Do you ever see an unhappy MX5 or Mini owner?


Yes - round about the time a mechanic says the word "sills". I speak from bitter experience. Otherwise, it's a delight!


Haha, know all about that, that's why i have one of those new-fangled ND models.


Love seeing that 4 wheel drift! those minis are wild!!


The “fast car slow-slow car fast” thing is being taken all over the lot here. Driving a car at 10/10ths is satisfying and an accomplishment, no matter the car. Truly skilled drivers willing to truly go 10/10ths will drive away from most of their peers. 10/10ths means getting every corner, every entry, every exit, and every driving line and control input exactly right, every lap, for the capabilities of the car, the arrangement and movements of the cars arrayed around you, and the track situation at the moment. Do all of that and you own the joint. Get it wrong and wrap up the car in a wall. Or you can go 7/10ths or 8/10ths and take the results you get. You may be racing others, but at the end of the day, you are racing against your own expectations and standards. Satisfy them, and you go home happy. Go truly 10/10ths and satisfy them, and it will have been a very good day, indeed.


Nice write up, but I thought after all your time hanging out with Mr Shaw and his turbo clubman the Mini life might have rubbed off a bit. ;)


Nick rubbing off on me is something I really don't want to think about.


Pass me the mind bleach!


FINALLY!! A FRESH MINI SPOTLIGHT!!! (sorry guys i love classic mini's due to the 1966 Austin S MK1 being my favorite car. blame GT Legends for my unhealthy obsession. )


Ah, this something is very close to my heart! The drive to and from work in one of these legit makes my day, and also surprising a few Fiesta ST's is icing on the cake aha :')

Many thanks for the photos @ Driftworks last year Mr. Butters!