The third round of the North American Mini Cooper Championship Race Series was held June 10th at Gateway International Raceway in St. Louis. Under the guidance of long time MINI racing professional Phil Wicks, the North American Mini Cooper Championship Race Series will stage eight race events in 2006 with an expanded schedule in 2007.

Just minutes from the famous St. Louis Arch on the Mississippi River, Gateway offered participants in the Phil Wicks Driving Academy as well as the NAMCCRS racers the opportunity to run an infield 1.6 mile road course which included a high speed section on the NASCAR style oval. Saturday’s event attracted a crowd of around 60 participants, to the Phil Wicks Driving Academy and gave racers the chance for some last minute test and tune on the track before qualifying for the feature race.

Saturday began with Phil Wicks introducing his instructors for the track day event and breaking the participants down into Novices, Intermediates and Experts for twenty minute sessions at speed on the racetrack. The racecars had their own practice sessions during the day in preparation for qualifying. The open paddock area allowed spectators to see the NAMCCRS racecars up close and visit with the teams.

Most of Saturday’s action was on the track. “It was amazing to see Penfold break out of his meager shell and become a true sports car!” beamed Bruce Nelson, a novice driver from the MINI Car Club of Indiana. During the racers’ first practice lap, Randy Webb overcooked the number 93 car into turn one and after a short agricultural excursion put it broadside into the tires. It looked like the end of the weekend for Randy and a big letdown for his many fans in the MINI community who had helped sponsor his trip to St. Louis until db and Todd of Whiteroofradio fame stepped up and offered Todd’s car as a replacement. Down in the Webb Motorsports pit it went while wrenches spun and parts flew as the car was transformed into a street racer in time for Randy to make the call to grid.

The race itself became a parade behind Steve Diniz driving the very fast number 53 MINI Madness car. “I would’ve had to work harder if Randy’d been driving the Mule,” commented a jubilant Diniz after taking the checker.

Late in the afternoon, as the hot Missouri sun began to set on a group of tired but elated MINI enthusiasts, some thoughts turned toward finding dinner while others revolved around anticipation of Sunday’s track sessions and more racing.

Phil Wicks owns and operates the Phil Wicks MINI Driving Academy as well as administering the North American MINI Cooper Championship Racing Series. Phil Wicks has been involved with the Mini Cooper since its inception in the 1960s and has been a significant presence in the MINI enthusiast community for fifty years.

Order of finish:
1. Steve Diniz
2. Brian Black
3. Waylen Hunsuker
4. Randy Webb
5. Gordon Barclay

You can see more photos here (Courtesy of Brian Lalor).

Photo: E. Buente