Jun 19, 2017
OUR KIND OF VICTORY LAP.
For the 50-year anniversary of his victory in the 1967 Monte Carlo Rally, 79-year-old racing legend Rauno Aaltonen didn’t just take a bow. He took the wheel of his classic Mini and relived the race, turn by razor-sharp turn.
RACING’S IN OUR BLOOD.
Son of a mechanic, pioneer of the rear-mounted engine and founder of the Cooper Car Company, John Cooper had three Monte Carlo Rally titles and 16 Grand Prix wins to his name. That name lives on in the MINI John Cooper Works models. Ferocious, street-legal racecars bred for the track and rigorously tuned to the most exacting performance standards. Because just as it was a half-century ago, racing is in our blood.
BIRTH OF A RACER.
In 1959, the first Classic Mini was introduced to Britain: an unassuming, inexpensive 4-person “saloon” that didn’t use up a lot of gas or take up much space. And though at first, some people didn’t quite know what to make of this quirky newcomer, other people began to get big ideas.
One of the gentlemen most intrigued by the Classic Mini’s racing potential was the legendary F1 car builder, John Cooper. Already famous for his unique, extremely successful rear-engine F1 designs, it was only natural that an auto company bold enough to defy convention by placing its engine differently (sideways) would impress him.
ONE SPIN WAS ALL IT TOOK.
Cooper immediately recognized that the same features that made the Classic Mini such an innovative people mover – a transverse engine, four wheels pushed out to the corners and minimal size – also gave the car incredible balance, an extremely wide stance and amazing agility. Just the attributes needed to turn it into a small, but ferocious racer.
GENTLEMEN, START YOUR SIDEWAYS ENGINE.
And so, in 1961, with a few tweaks to the engine, a set of slightly bigger brakes, and a new contrasting roof to make it stand out in the pack, the Classic Mini emerged from the Cooper Car Company garages as the Mini Cooper.
A GIANT KILLER.
What happened next (much to the dismay of the competition) is that John Cooper’s grand hypothesis was proven correct. The Classic Mini Cooper and Cooper S went on to dominate the 1960’s race scene, winning almost every international competition imaginable, including historic wins at Monte Carlo in 1964, 1965, 1966 and 1967.* And a car for the ages was born.