You may have heard the interview from MINIs On Top last year on White Roof Radio, when the event organizers were stepping down and the event’s future was uncertain. Fortunately, a new group of volunteers stepped forward and continued the tradition this year. ‘Tis the season for MINI gatherings so, we bring you this rundown of last month’s MINIs On Top, New England’s premiere MINI event.
From the moment you arrive at the Attitash Grand Summit Hotel and see the MINIs On Top organizer in action, you know that these are people who know their mission inside and out. Running the largest MINI event in the northeastern U.S. isn’t an easy task, especially for a team of people who are new to running the event after the previous management stepped down. Fortunately, past and present organizers collaborated to make the transition go smoothly.
By nearly all accounts MINIs On Top has been wildly successful at bringing caravans of MINI owners together from Canada to Florida and all points in-between, to converge on the gorgeous white mountains of New Hampshire for fun, food, friendship and scenic mountain driving. In addition, it has raised more than $85,000 for charities. MINIs On Top 2014 was sponsored by MINI USA, MINI of Bedford, MINI of Peabody, MINI, Inskip MINI, Herb Chambers MINI, Greasy’s Garage, Bavarian Autosport, Outmotoring.com and Associated Elevator. Without the sponsorship of these companies, the event wouldn’t be the success it has become. It also isn’t every day that one gets to sit at a table having ice cream with MINI USA’s Chief Moterer, David Duncan.
June 20, 2014 marked the start of the 12th annual MINIs On Top event. MINIS On Top is the same age as MINIS On The Dragon, another popular (even larger) Eastern U.S. MINI event. As people arrived Friday evening, they were greeted by smiling volunteers with merchandise including badge holders, T-shirts, and the legendary MINIS On Top window cling stickers, which can be seen on so many MINIs around New England. The routes available for driving the next morning were also available early so drivers and their passengers could decide where they want to go on Saturday. Friday night was capped by free sundaes and a fun, friendly trivia contest. This was really the place where people get to meet new MINI friends, get to know one another, and where old friendships were rekindled with hugs and conversation. The first night was the perfect kickoff to the event.
Saturday started with all cars gathering at the Loon Mountain lot where they were separated by model into their own areas; the exception to this were the cars arriving before 9:00 am for the Concourse d’ Elegance: a showcase of MINIs for which all attendees get a ballot to choose their favorites. Categories included cleanest car, best sound, best presentation of ducks (more on that in a moment), best paint, best wrap/decal, best presentation and more. The diversity and creativity on display was remarkable. Moustaches on grilles, The Stig, a Dalek, angry teeth and even her royal majesty, Queen Elizabeth, adorned some of the cars on the concourse. It’s hard to imagine any other car gatherings could be this, to quote MINI USA, “not normal” and that is a very good thing. It is also interesting to note that the official MOT t-shirt this year was a play on MINI’s “NOT NORMAL” campaign, reading, “MOT NORMAL” inside a box. Clever indeed.
There were five routes available, which varied in time from about 90 minutes to two and a half hours, and in complexity from an easy jaunt to the outlet stores to a drive up Hurricane Mountain Road, which changes elevation enough to make people queasy just looking at it. The day culminated with dinner at the base of Mount Washington, an awards ceremony, charity raffle, then the finale of driving to the top of Mt. Washington – all 6,289 feet of it. If you’ve never seen the road up Mt. Washington, a good place to start is by watching the speed record set by Subaru/Red Bull driver Travis Pastrana here. Maybe a MINI should break this record someday.
Attendees saw a sunset at the summit for the first at MINIS On Top since 2009. Sunsets are rare at the summit because clouds often obscure the view at the peak much of the year. The sunset was spectacular and, for some, that alone would be worth the trip. After the drive down the mountain, attendees gathered at the hotel for live music and dancing. It’s hard to imagine a better finish than the conversations, music and friendships that happen on the last night. This is likely where most people decide they need to come again next year.
Finally, it is important to note that rubber ducks adorn nearly every MINI at MINIS On Top. If you come without one, by Saturday morning, someone will likely have placed a rubber duck with a hole in the center on your stubby antenna or elsewhere on your car. This tradition was started by MINI motorer Ed “MAXAMINI” Smith, who loved the Big Duck in Long Island, and brought rubber ducks to MINIs On Top to give to people as a reminder to smile, and have a good time. Unfortunately, Ed passed away in 2005 but his tradition of spreading good cheer is carried on by the organizers and attendees of MINIs On Top every year. If 2014 was any indication, the ducks are still doing exactly what they were intended to do.
Learn more about MINIs On Top at the MINIs On Top website.
See a collection of photos from the 2014 MINIS On Top here.