Minis to Monte or wherever is a Touring Assembly following the roads of the Monte Carlo Rally and other important rallies. The events are organised by a team of dedicated members from the Mini Cooper Register.
Our run started on Saturday October 1st at the Lenham Café on the A20, venue of many a time control on Monte Carlo Rallies of yore and still used by the Monte Carlo Historic Rally in 2017. There was a field of 41 cars (plus a sweeper and a service van) running from a 1963 Mini Cooper 997 through various Mini Cooper S’s and Rover Coopers to more modern BMW MINI Coopers.
What better way to bring together the present and the past than to have running at number 1 on the road the co-driver from the 1965 winning car, the legendary Paul Easter? We were privileged and thrilled to have Paul amongst us, chauffeured on this occasion by his son William rather than Timo Makinen, but covering many of the same mountain roads that he traversed during his career as a works co-driver in the 1960s and 1970s.
The second MCR Minis to Ireland event took place from 17th through to 24th September, 2015. All but two of the thirty cars starting from England and Wales met up at the ferry port in Fishguard, and the absentees managed to catch up with the tour over the next two days. At Fishguard teams signed on, were issued with the ‘Road Book’ for the tour together with super Rally Jackets.
After the crossing to Rosslare the teams made their way to New Ross and then to Sneem. where loops of 178 miles, 213 miles and 181 miles followed before heading to Connamara for a loop of 178 miles of glorious Irish countryside. The following day were onto Wexford and another 216 miles. The final day was a short hop to Rosslare for the ferry home. Another fantastic event for our members.
2014 was the 10th anniversary of the first Minis To Monte as well as the 50th anniversary of Paddy Hopkirk’s win in 1964. It was decided to base this year’s event on the original 2004 route, but with subtle changes. Some 43 crews assembled at the Lenham Road House on the A20 near Ashford, Kent. The welcome Dinner and first night were spent in Ashford before boarding the 9.25am ferry at Dover. Once in France we headed down to Troyes. Monday saw us heading east along fast open country roads. It wasn’t long before the twisty bits appeared and we were heading into Switzerland and Biel/Bienne for the overnight halt. Leaving Biel/Bienne we crossed back into France but not before encountering a road closure which gave the navigators a bit of a challenge! We descended into Aix les Bains for two nights from the Grand Colombier which afforded a spectacular view. An optional circular route out of Aix was available the following day. A number of crews spent the time exploring Aix and its surrounds. From Aix down to Gap and on to Monte Carlo over the next two days, we closely followed the original 2004 route to arrive in Monte Carlo on Friday afternoon.
For the biennial years the ‘Minis to’ series ventured, for the first time, to Ireland by popular demand. The fabulous route basically circumnavigated some of the very best of Ireland’s rallying roads in a roughly anticlockwise direction.
Crews assembled at Fishguard on the Welsh coast to journey together for the crossing to Rosslare in Southern Ireland, where there was but a short drive to the first overnight halt at Wicklow for the welcoming dinner. The first full day’s run saw the crews head north over the Wicklow mountains to arrive in Letterkenny, just in Northern Ireland, where the crews were to stay for two nights. This allowed those who would rather have a sightseeing rest day to take a break whilst the majority of the crews headed out for the third day on a circular route over demanding roads in Northern Ireland.
Heading westwards for the fourth leg, saw the crews descend on the beautiful north west coastal area of Connemara, where not only the breathtaking Atlantic coast was there for all to see, the food and accommodation at the Renville Hotel was exemplary.
Heading south all along the dramatic south west coat line and a short ferry crossing of the Shannon, saw the crews arrive at the second of their two night stays in lovely Rosscarbery. Here for their sixth day a challenging circular route saw the crews return to Rosscarbery for a fine dinner with the providers of ‘The Gathering’, which had partly sponsored the event, as a means of generating the tourist trade in Ireland. Their much welcomed sponsorship was toasted by all!
The last full day’s run, back to Wexford and the final dinner saw the route journey along the fabulous southern coast line, where finishers awards and trophies were handed out. This only left a short run, on the final day, back to Rosslare to catch the early morning ferry back to Fishguard. In all a fabulous event.
For 2012 the destination was Marseille in France. Despite struggling to get sufficient entries to make the event viable it finally went ahead at the end of September and into early October. For this year we had opted to start halfway down through France at our friends Automobiles BMC in Vienne. From there it was a short hop to our first night and Welcome Dinner at Tain l’Hermitage. The event proper started the next day heading to St Nectaire. En route there was a stop-off at the Charade Circuit near Clermont Ferrand for a couple of laps of the circuit followed by a photo shoot and then some more laps. The following day took us from St Nectaire to Millau through spectacular scenery and crossing the Millau Bridge into the town. Avignon was the next destination where we would stay for two nights. With a day in Avignon crews were free to sight see or complete a 190 miles loop. On leaving Avignon the route saw us climb Mont Ventoux at 1912 metres the highest point on this year’s event. Then we would head westwards to the Camargue. On leaving the Camargue we crossed the Rhone river by ferry to heard for Marseille. Most crews opted to go into the city for an evening meal. Saturday saw us head for Beaune for our Final Dinner and presentation of awards. All in all a superb route with lots of challenges.
2011 saw us run Minis to the Lakes and Borders. Based in Westmorland and then Dumfries. The first day of the run featured the North Pennines and the Yorkshire Dales with the following day in the heart of the Lake District. Wednesday saw the run from Westmorland to Dumfries via the Northnumberland National Park. The next day gave us the opportunity to explore the regions of Dumfries and Galloway. The final day gave us the chance to travel to the east and visit the Scottish Borders. Returning to our hotel in Dumfries for the farewell dinner.
Making a variation to the format of previous years the 2010 event took in roads used by the Monte Carlo Rally. Use was also made of the routes from the Tulip Rally, Alpine Rally and previous Minis to Monte events! This enabled the organisers to make use of much higher passes than in previous years. Crews assembled this time in Reims for the start and the welcome dinner. The first full day headed to from Reims to Mulhouse taking in some of the Vosges mountains. It was then onto Aix les Bains for two nights. All the cars were parked in the main town square. An optional run of some 200 miles was available taking in some exciting roads the next day. Departing from Aix the route headed south to go over the Col d’ Iseran some 2700 metres high. When this Col was traversed it was covered in cloud and trying to snow. The night was spent in the ski resort of Lonslebourg. The next day saw the event finishing its run at the Columbus in Monte Carlo. Two more very high passes were crossed, the Galiber and the Bonette, the being the highest pass in Europe. The final day took in some excellent fast and winding roads back to Macon for the Final Dinner and awards presentation.
For 2009 the event returned to Scotland. Starting in Perth, everyone headed to Oban for a crossing to The Isle of Mull the next morning. Leaving Mull they headed to Ballachulish and then onto Tain for two nights. The trip out took them to Durness and the depths of the far North West of Scotland. The final run back was from Tain to Perth for the Farewell Dinner.
Minis to Monte was back on the calendar for 2008. Differing to previous events which started in the UK, for this event the initial assembly point was at Automobiles BMC in Vienne, just south of Lyon in France. From there it was a short run to Tain l’Hermitage for the Welcome Dinner. From Tain it was around the Burzet loop to Val les Bains, Embrun, Monte Carlo, Digne to return to Tain.
2007 saw the first Minis to Ecosse run, 5 days over some daunting Scottish Roads. The event started in Perth then travelled to Fort William, spending next three nights based in Inverness before returning to Perth for the Final Dinner.
It was decided to run the event again in 2006. This time we ran with less cars, just under thirty which made the management of the event that much easier. The route took us much further west that in 2004, crossing to Le Harve, Rennes, Limoges, Avignon, Gap, Nice and Chambery. Again the route took in part of the concentration run and common route.
The first Minis to Monte event ran in 2004 with nearly 60 entries. The aim of the event was to follow part of the route of 1964 Monte Carlo Rally, 1964 being the year when the Mini Cooper first won the Monte Carlo Rally. Although the event made a loss for the Club, for those taking part it was an overwhelming success. It generated lots of good publicity for the Club. Coverage was received in Classic and Sportscar Magazine, Mini Magazine, Classic Car Weekly to name just a few.
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