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Pop-pop-pop! The exhaust of the MINI John Cooper Works I’m driving reacts enthusiastically as I let off the gas and carefully point the car to the apex of the turn, then accelerate the little car towards the short straight between turns five and six on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course.

The impressive one-day MINI driving school is making me fully realize the potential of myself and the car, and while they may not be Formula 1 cars or motorcycles like the course was designed for, these MINIs certainly deserve to be on this track.

Ever wonder why the MINI Cooper is named so? It’s thanks to a man called John Cooper who, along with helping to develop the original car, revolutionized racing as we know it. These two facts come together beautifully at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as the fabled race track hosts the awesome MINI Performance Driving School, which I’m here to experience first-hand.

For reference, Cooper helped revolutionize the modern rear-engine layout that practically all open-wheel race cars use. Four years after his design hit the track at Indy, a rear-engined car won the famed 500. Now, every winning open-wheel race car has that engine layout, all thanks to Mr. John Cooper.

Cooper also helped develop the Mini what it is now: fun, agile and plenty quick. Cooper even prepped special racing and rally models which were successful and fun to watch. In recognition of his efforts, the company offers hotter vehicles dubbed “John Cooper Works” editions. Cooper made the Mini what it is, and helped make auto-racing what it is. He’s a legend in the world of cars and racing, which is why MINI is making the Cooper connection again at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It all started with a teen driving school, which handed off the keys of MINI JCWs to lucky teenagers in order to teach them the importance of good driving habits. Following the success of that program, MINI is now offering its Performance Driving School. The program is only in its second month and I attended the second-ever session.
Read more about the MINI Performance Driving School at
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