It’s early but the car is packed and the top is down. It’s the day after the ALMS race at Road America, and we’re heading three hours back north to prepare for the 24 Hours of LeMons at the same track. Pulling our trusty $500 ’86 Toyota MR2 is a Toureg. Carrying me and my luggage is our new long-term JCW Roadster. Did I mention the top is down?

We’re going to be bringing you the ins and outs of Roadster ownership over the next year with this car. The idea is simple; we want to find out if the MINI Roadster can be an every day car in a city like Chicago. From sunshine to rain and snow, our Black and Red JCW will be subject to the daily grind and all the highs and lows that go with it.

And with that, the journey starts today heading north for a ridiculous race with ridiculous cars. For those that don’t know, a few members and friends of MotoringFile and BimmerFile have been competing in the 24 Hours of LeMons now for the last three years in a team called the Hofmiester Kinks. You can read some accounts of the previous races here and here and follow our progress here. It’s fun, it’s addicting and it’s at Road America for the first time ever. All why we’re back for another year.


It also serves as a great warm-up act for our JCW Roadster.

So how is it? In a word: impressive. The Roadster is unique in that taking the top off doesn’t result in inherently flawed dynamics. The large structural brace that separates the driver compartment from the boot gives the car far more rigidity than the four seat MINI convertible, and more than any other drop-top I’ve ever driven. What that does for the dynamics is to simply make it feel like a hardtop MINI – perhaps the greatest compliment.

We’ll get into much more in the coming weeks and years, but I’ll leave you with this: driving this Roadster over the last two days has been more all-around enjoyable than any MINI I’ve experienced to date.