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Settle in - this is kind of a long story about how my husband and I ended up at dealer training today - and what we learned.

We were headed up to Stinson Beach (on Highway One north of San Francisco) Saturday morning to spend the weekend with some friends. We had our friend's 911 for the weekend and were looking forward to the drive. We stopped by the Presidio on the way out of town to check on the Stable full of MINIs - sure enough still there - as were the grumpy guys from earlier in the week who wouldn't let us in to see them. Disappointed - we turned around to get on the Golden Gate bridge. As we did that - we saw a sign with an arrow pointing to the bridge that had the MINI logo on it. As we drove towards Stinson - we continued to see the MINI signs along the way. We drove past our friends house in the hopes of spotting a MINI but figured they were long past.

We got up this morning and as we were pulling on to Highway One to go home - a MINI passed us going North. We felt we had no choice but to follow them. There was a MINI pit stop at the parking lot for Stinson Beach - there were two cars there but we were told that most of the cars had already moved along. Not having a clue where they would lead us we kept eyes peeled and followed the MINI signs on the most spectacular ride through the back hills of Marin County.

We went north along the coast for about 15 miles and then inland through undeveloped farm land with twisty two lane roads. We didn't spot many MINIs until we found their lunch spot. About 15 in the parking lot - we were off to see where the other 25 had gone. We ended up on Highway 37 which goes to Sonoma and - even better - Sears Point Raceway. Sure enough - the last MINI sign we saw had us pulling into the back side of the track.

The guy at the gate waved us through - but the guy with the MINI badges and shirt told us it was "invitation only" but graciously pointed us to a small hill above the festivities from where we could watch.

There was a small "Gymkana" track where the delaers got to take the cars for a lap or two. They also had profesional drivers taking out all the dealers for hot laps in the Cooper. Later in the day the dealers got to drive themselves around Sears Point's new go-cart track. They also had a mini-MINI track with little velvet red RC MINIs. This weekend was for dealership owners. The dealers go home tomorrow and employees have training most of the rest of the week in and around SF. We've heard they'll be at 3Com park in the parking lot one or two of the days this week.

All afternoon - dealers were coming up to our little hill to get a better view of everything that was going on (you could see both the gymkana and the "track" track from there) and to get some sun. We made a point of talking to all of them. The following is what we learned.

- They all had a spectacular drive and this is the most fun they have ever had on four wheels. All of them commented on the high build quality. No squeaks or rattles.
- The head of BMW NA was there today and said he would be "very disapointed" in dealers that sold MINIs for a cent more than MSRP.
- If you are buying your MINI from the folks in Littleton Colorado or from Tony at MINI in Westchester - you are stoked. Two great owners who spent a bunch of time talking to us.
- My dealer - who'd I'd never met in person - came up to the little hill when he found out we were there to say hi. Again - can not say enough good things about Bruce, Jarid and East Bay MINI.
- Blanca who is the Program Manager for MINI in the US was great. She said that she drove the S for the first time this weekend - and while they were there at the track- none of the dealers had yet driven them because they hadn't been released to the press. That should be "soon". She also let us dangerously close to the pass only ares to take pictures of a line of S's.
- When the MINIs left the presidio they went single file (red and white/yellow and black) across the Golden Gate bridge. It was filmed for future advertising use. Would have loved to have seen that.
- There is a new bill board at 11th and Harrison in San Francisco. XXl XL L M S MINI (didn't learn that at training - saw it on our way home)
- They have two TV commercials that they showed the dealers this weekend - one has the bull dog and the other has a kid in a MINI pulled over by an English police officer. They both sounds pretty funny.

I've attached one of the photos - but will be posting all the pictures from the day this evening - and will edit my post later with the link.

Sorry for the long post - have just been waiting all day to tell people who would appreciate how cool this was!

-shawna

photos from the day posted at: http://photos.yahoo.com/shawnawol
in the folder "dealer training"
 

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Thanks for the great post. Having lived in SF (near the Presidio) I could picture every scene you described. Blast it, I knew I should have bailed out on the family BBQ this weekend and gone down to The City.
 

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Great post.
Did you hear an "S" running? Does it sound much different to the Cooper?
 

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Up here in Canada on Christmas eve there is a radio station (CFRB) that used to do some cool schtick for the kids who were listening: They interrupted programming with sightings of a shiny UFO led by reindeer, etc, etc. They would even patch into Canadian forces who were flying out to investigate the sightings. Kind of a War of the Worlds - style radio play.

Anyway - I say all this because I feel exactly the same way as I did all those years ago waiting for Santa. This post, along with Kevin_B's efforts on Friday are working their magic - thank you for the effort.

Christmas in Canada is on March 22!
:)
 

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Thanks Mini-Girl,

I think that you just made my day--or should I say my entire week. If you have some spare time during the week, a quick trip to 3com park sounds like a good idea (I'd go myself but I live in Chicago)............:p ;) :D
 

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Thanks mini_girl

Great story, I wish I could have seen them running. I can't wait until my dealer can give me some info.

Thanks again.
 

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Mini_girl,
Great post!! Enjoyed the photos! I live 2 blocks from the
Presido; got to do some exploring next weekend.
Hope the dealers are right about the build quality.
Complaints from UK owners on this site make me a little
nervous.
ps Some of my co- workers report sightings in SF last Friday
Financial district & in front of the Clift hotel.
 

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Wow, great stuff! Can you imagine seeing a report like this anywhere but Mini2? Thanks to minigirl and everyone at Mini2.
 

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Great post!

It wasn't quite as good as being there but it was the next best thing.
 

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Reposting permission

mini_girl -

May I repost your photos DCP_0341 and DCP-0342 on the Compuserve Automobile forum?

There's a guy there from New Zealand who used to repair the classic Minis, and he's curious about the new MINIs.

Thanks.
Chip H.
 
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