From San Francisco to Boston: MINI Takes The States

Here I am in my wheels for the trip

Cross country roadtrip to celebrate the iconic car.

Last summer, Sherlock, a three-year-old, five-pound Yorkie from Indianapolis, and his owner, Lana Trent, drove the St. Louis to Chicago leg of MINI TAKES THE STATES (MTTS).  The driving partners were among 4,000 MINI owners from around the world who were traveling along the 5,142-mile route from San Francisco to Boston.

The trip, which ran from July 26 to August 10, covered 15 cities and 18 states. More than 450 MINI owners and staff did the full cross-country trip, while others, like Trent and Sherlock, joined up just for a couple days of pure fun.


Sherlock, a MINI Cooper co-pilot

“It’s my first time,” enthused Trent who sported a 2008 yellow and black . And not a bad start either. Sherlock placed second in the MINI Cooper co-pilot pet contest. The palm-sized pal was among this year’s MTTS 154 plus pet co-pilots on the road. A portion of the event registration was donated to Best Friends Animal Society, the charity partner for this year’s rally.

In addition to the many pets on board, some of the participants traveled with their stuffed animals. Cyndy and Mike Wright drove from their Des Moines, Iowa home to San Francisco so they could start the rally with everyone else. “We have Cubby, a stuffed bear that travels with us; he’s our travel companion.”

“We love MINIs!” claimed the proud owner of ‘Rosey’, a red 2013 MINI Cooper S hardtop. She added that her family has another red model, circa 2005 named ‘Cherry’ and ‘Harold,’ a 1979 MINI. “

This has been absolutely amazing…the people, the MINI corporation, the food, the scenery,” said the MINI lover, who was accessorized in MINI earrings and a MINI dog tag necklace.

MTTS, which was started in 2006 and held every two years, is in its fifth edition. Choreographed and organized in true MINI style with detailed planning and energizing events, fun was the operative word for the rally. Each day at the 7:30 am “Rise & Shine” event, a local DJ led Zumba workouts and a map of the route was handed out.

Small car headlines a big roadtrip


Kelli Creighton, winner of the Car of the Day, with her “Zombie” husband

The itinerary included points of local interest, entertaining historical facts and the night’s agenda (such as a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland).

“MINI is the only car that comes standard with friends,” quipped Nathalie Bauters, MINI Communications Manager and my driving partner for a couple of days.

Just mention the four letter word and watch people’s eyes light up. When we stopped for lunch in the tiny, one block town of Elmore, Ohio on the banks of the Portage River, we had a taste of MINI madness. Matthew Zatko, our waiter, showed us a picture of his friend’s classic MINI in Finland, and the owner of the corner antiques shop went on about the vintage MINI that he just sold. Everyone has a story about a MINI. Along with that comes a great affection for the brand.

“Over 30% of MINI owners name their car,” said Bauters.

MINI car, big love

Kelli Creighton has a purple 2008 MINI Cooper S, tricked out to the max. Kelli, who hails from The Woodlands, Texas, was driving the entire route for the first time with her husband whom she refers to as “My Zombie.” He is also her mechanic. In typical zombie fashion (a man of few words) he told me that it had taken him six years to outfit Kelli’s car.

Creighton’s MINI was so unusual that, at the start of the rally in San Francisco, she was won the Car of the Day prize, a skateboard designed by expert Tony Hawk.

Kelli calls her 2008 MINI Cooper S, ‘Blaze,’ after its flame graphics and flashy styling.

Like her wheels, Kelli is a standout. “I dress like my car and my hair is always colored with stripes of purple and blue.  A self-described housewife with three grown kids, Kellie’s zombie works offshore and is home for two weeks at a time. They take the zombie stuff seriously. Kelli’s Facebook page “MINI Cooper Zombie Outbreak Response Team” has 966 members worldwide. The premise?  MINI Coopers joining together in obliterating zombies.

When I met the duo, they were on their way to stage a zombie event in Cleveland.

As Nathalie Bauters noted, “I challenge you to find two MINIs that are the same.” That goes for the owners as well.

Judy Antell, who is's Free in 50 States editor, lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn, with her husband and... More about Judy Antell