MINI USA Press Release: A 2007 MINI Cooper S, piloted by Craig Wilcox of Blue Springs, Missouri, claimed first place in G Stock at the 36th Tire Rack(R) SCCA Solo National Championship at Heartland Park in Topeka, Kansas. The four-day contest of precision driving — an exhilarating face-off that pushes the driver’s ability and the car’s handling characteristics to their limits on an autocross course — attracted more than 1,000 entrants competing in 32 classes.

MINI USA rewarded Wilcox for his first-place win with a $1000 purse through its MINI Motorsport Awards Program which honors its proud racing heritage and celebrates the accomplishments of MINI entrants in U.S. motorsport competition. In the past Wilcox has been the recipient of several such awards.

In just six short weeks before the Championship, Wilcox and team purchased and tuned the Cooper S Hardtop to perfection with the help of his co-driver Joe Silva and sponsors QuickSilver Exhausts and Hoosier Tire. In Topeka, he turned in a stellar performance on three runs the first day of competition, edging out a 0.1-second lead going into the final rounds. Facing a competitive field on day two, Wilcox clinched the top spot in G Stock going into his final run – finishing with a time of 84.169 and a best run-time of 40.315 seconds extending his lead to 1.177 seconds.

An experienced racer of MINIs since 2004 and now a two-time winner of the SCCA Solo National Championship, Wilcox’s performance in the competition has improved as the MINI Cooper S has improved. In 2004 he competed with a 2004 model to take seventh place; in 2005 with a 2005 model he finished in sixth place; he claimed his first Championship title in 2006 with a 2005 model; and last year in a 2007 model he placed second – by a mere .017-second margin off the lead.

The 2007 MINI Cooper S Hardtop model that secured Wilcox’s title in this year’s Championship has proven to be an especially strong performer in autocross competition even when compared to the previous generation Cooper S, which had reigned as the darling of G Stock.

“I have received so much support form MINI USA, without it, competing around the country would not have been possible for me,” said Wilcox. “I am now on my 5th MINI Cooper S in as many years, and am definitely appreciative of all the support that MINI USA has given me through the MINI Motorsport Awards Program.”

The MINI Motorsport Awards Program was established to reflect MINI USA’s commitment to increase its presence in new and burgeoning motorsport venues for both grassroots and professional racers. During the 2008 season, MINI USA has awarded more than two dozen prizes to top MINI motorsport competitors in a number of racing series.