It all started from San Francisco. After a long day of meetings concluded by dinner and drinks with clients, we headed back to Boston. The plan is to drive our 135i Coupe to New Haven, CT where three days of MINI John Cooper Works fun and drive await us.
##Boston to New Haven##
We couldn’t have a picked a better day to drive from Boston to New Haven. The weather is perfect, and after checking tire pressure and oil levels, our baby BMW is ready to hit the road. With the frantic rythm of work and daily traffic, we rarely get to enjoy the 300hp in-line six of the E82, so this trip is an ideal opportunity to do so. Aside from the power and driving dynamics, one of the things we love the most about this car is the exhaust sound. If only every car came with a standard exhaust as good as this one, the world would be a better place.
We left Boston early in the afternoon and it took us about two hours to reach our final destination. It is always remarkable how easily one can segment drivers based on how they behave on the road and what kind of car they own. There is the novice driver; he owns a Honda Civic, drives at 40mph in the middle of the road, and his sitting position is way too close to the steering wheel. There is also the soccer mom; she owns a Range Rover and prefers to change lanes abruptly without the use of blinkers. Then there is the Manager in his early forties; his company provided him with a Hyundai Sonata but he really hates it. And so he releases his anger on the road by tailgating drivers on the left lane. Autonmous driving can’t come soon enough for these folks.
In any case, we managed to arrive safely at the [Study Hotel](http://www.studyatyale.com) near Yale University, where a valet tucked our car away for the weekend.
MINI USA started the presentation with a few words from their Chief Motorer, David Duncan. Mr. Duncan gave us a state of the union and as we’ve reported since the beginning of the year, the MINI brand has performed fairly well in the US. That performance has actually been validated by a number of awards and prizes from the automotive press, and most recently JD Powers.
Following this short introduction, Professor [Jeffrey C. Alexander](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeffrey_C._Alexander) talked about icons, their impact on society, and how this topic relates to MINI. Rather that paraphrasing Pr. Jeffrey, here is an extract of his lecture:
>60 years ago, French semiotician [Roland Barthes](https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roland_Barthes) said that: “Cars today are almost the exact equivalent of the great gothic cathedrals. They are the supreme creation of an era, conceived with passion by unknown artists, and consumed in image if not in usage by a whole population which appropriates them as a purely magical object.”
>From the beginning, the automobile was regarded widely as a tremendous technological feat. It provided auto mobility, getting us from A to B a whole lot faster than ever imagined before, cheating time and eating space. From the its very beginning, automobile was not only technology, but also imagination. It worked on our senses and not only on our logic. Cars are designed, not just engineered. They ensue luxury and class, the future and the past, power and lust, and sometimes hipster cool, which is where the MINI comes from.
>The Morris Mini was hatched in the midst of the post-war consumer extravagenza of the ’50s and ’60s, in the midst of the Suez crisis in the UK, which drastically cut down fuel, supplies and resulted in a sales crisis for gas guzzlers. It was as the exact same time that Doyle Dane Bernbach, the famous New York adverstising agency, began to make history with the Volkswagen account in the US. Icons are dramatic vehicles, not just technological ones. They are performances, they played roles, often against time.
>The Mini was small and homely but kind of cute. Mini played the anti-hero to the matcho cars that were the order of that day. From the swinging 60s to the preposterous 90s, this anti-car stood for common sense, plain speaking, honesty, modesty, vurtue, pre-war not post-war values. No wonder that by the time it was finished, after a run of more than fifty years, it had become the best selling British-made car of all time, and was the second most influential car of the twentieh century after the Model T, but in front of the VW Beetle. Since being produced by BMW, from 2000 MINI has gotten a noze-job and beefed-up, not doubt. But if cars could speak, MINI would still say: ‘I am me.'”
To end the presentation, MINI USA’s Head of Product Strategy Patrick McKenna, emphasized Pr. Jeffrey’s argument by detailing further the origin of MINI. From Alec Issoginis to John Cooper, the goal was to provide us with an overview of MINI’s racing heritage as a preview to driving the F56 John Cooper Works the next day.
##Sushi with Dinosaurs##
Following the lecture, MINI USA had a dinner buffet ready for us at the [Peabody Museum](http://peabody.yale.edu). Despite having not eaten anything for the past twelve hours, we spent most of the evening conversing with Pat McKenna about MINI and other car-related topics. We’ve been lucky enough to have a number of extended conversations with Pat in the past, and every single time we’re reminded how such an enthusiast he is, not only about the brand but also about cars in general. His point of view on current automotive trends and how it relates to the future of MINI is interesting and eye-opening. While we can’t share all the details of our conversation, Gabe and I discussed some of these topics in the upcoming episode of White Roof Radio.
After recording our weekly Woofcast, a well-deserved night of sleep was in order, but the excitement previewing a full day of driving, autocrossing, and racing the new JCW kept us awake for a few more hours.