MotoringFile Spotlight: Don Burnside

MotoringFile Spotlight is back from it’s winter slumber with a little taste of southern California. In this edition we’re spotlighting Don Burnside (or db as he’s known in the MINI world):

Hi. My name is Don Burnside and I’m a MINIac, born and raised in Southern California for the last 36 years.

My obsession started in 2002. I was in the market for a new vehicle and nothing was really working for me. On my list were cars ranging from sport coupes to full sized pickups. Then I saw it.


An Electric Blue MINI with a white roof showed up one day at the office parking lot. I stole peeks at the car as often as possible and even went so far as to change how I drove through the lot to make sure I could get a glimpse of it. I started researching this wonderful looking automobile as much as possible and even got bit by the message board bug when I found (then MCO). I followed others progress and read along as they went through the even so painful process of ordering and finally receiving their MINI.

I finally went down to my local dealer and test-drove a MINI. It was fantastic! My face hurt for 3 days from all of the smiling I had done, and it was only a 10-minute drive. I had to have this car! More research ensued and I returned the following week to ask some questions and drool a little more. They had just received an MCS that they were using as a demo and my guy asked me if I wanted to give that one a go.

I placed my order the next day.


I went back to the message boards to get as much info as I could, but it wasn’t enough! I started collecting links to after market sites, other message boards and owner sites. Not being happy with what I was finding, I started a page of my own, to share with others, cool MINI sites. The site was mildly popular so I started making improvements. I added a chat room. Links to how-tos and even a tutorial on how to track the boat your MINI was on. With help from others at NAM, we assembled a checklist and I added that to the site. Finally, I added blogger to the mix and the result is the start of Since starting the site, it has gone through more design changes than I can count and a gallery was added.

I finally got my MINI and things started happening pretty fast. I am one of the founding members of Southern California MINI Maniacs (SCMM) and have sat on the board since. Event planning and attending took over and the miles started racking up! Most of it posted at my site too.

Fast forward to today. I am the proud owner of a 2003 Velvet Red MINI Cooper with packages 1, 2 & 3, leather, anthracite trim, K&N Typhoon Intake, Borla Exhaust and 35% tint. That and 80,000 miles! We’ve been through Death Valley, out route 66 to the Grand Canyon, multiple trips to Las Vegas and lots of laps at Buttonwillow Raceway, Pahrump Motorsports Park and Streets of Willow Springs! We’ve been to Solvang in the pouring rain and Carpenteria on a sunny day. And dbmini has evolved into more than just a collection of links and a gallery. It a complete journal of my motoring experiences, with some of the more fun MINI news thrown in for good measure.

Of course, you can read about all of it, from the beginning, at

Thanks Don! BTW in case you missed a few, you can check out some of our previous Spotlights below:

[ MotoringFile Spotlight ]
  • pete

    hey Don. i know your from the SoCal mini maniacs! my brother is a member. that’s a very nice Cooper you’ve got there, take care.oh yeah, how much horsepower does your cooper have now?

  • Allan

    I don’t see a velvet red MINI too often I think it looks great.

  • db

    Last Dyno run put me at 107 at the wheels. I was fairly pleased with those results!

  • Roughly – what does that translate into the HP figures we all know?

  • Most folks use 15% as an average figure for driveline loss so if we figure that 107 hp at the wheels is 85% of the power at the crank, then the power at the crank would be 126 hp (rounded off).

    Not bad!

  • Thanks Sean – I knew someone would be able to explain it better than I 🙂

  • db

    Thanks Sean for that, I was never sure. I know that at Streets of Willow Springs, I can keep with most of the MCS’s through the tight bits! The straights on the other hand…

  • Don,

    Congratualtions and nice write up!

    Also, nice to see a fellow well used MINI. 🙂 Hopefully we’ll meet up again at an upcoming event.


  • Hey Don, cool to see you get spotlighted!

    That first pic looks familiar 🙂 Pahrump, no?

  • db

    Pahrump yes…should look familiar, you took it! Oh yea, official disclaimer…

    The first photo in this spotlight courtesy Juan Calderon!

  • dw

    Don, What a wonderful write up.
    You are being a bit modest by not revealing that SCMM now has 600+ members, and some of the best gatherings, events and drives imaginable.


    Congratulations from a fellow SCMM-er.

    Thanks for the great job you did as President last year.

    Looking forward to another great motoring year.


  • Nice job Don!

    Don is very brave also, having granted me my first MINI driving experience in this car.

  • RB

    Well I just tried…..NADA, What’s up?

    Is it just now? Is Tracy still involved?


  • Jim


    SCMM is still going strong. is our “entry” point for non members. It’s in need of an update, and is on its way to getting it.

    Tracy’s still involved, as well as a whole bunch of other people.

    Glad to see Don getting some recognition.

    And Don–wasn’t that other shot taken above the hangglider port off of Ortega Highway?

  • Spot-On Mini

    Yep,db be da man! Great article!


  • Ronnie

    Not too shabby Don. It’s nice to remember what it was like when we first saw one, congratulations, good article.

  • db

    First shot @ Pahrump Motorsports Ranch, Turn 9 I believe.

    2nd shot taken on Ortega Hwy about 1 mile outside of El Carriso Village (So, not at the hang glider jump point)

    3rd taken up the street from the house.

    And, RB, the is the members section. Gallery, event calendar and message board. Watch very soon for an update to 😀