Posted by: porschebahn | July 3, 2010

The Mini vs. Porsche Challenge from a Porsche owners eye view

Mini vs Porsche Challenge

Written by Scott Hornsby

Photography by Gordon Friedman

Towards the early part of June Mini USA launched an internet only campaign to market its Mini S product. The concept was to utilize internet avenues of marketing only and they did this through Face book and You Tube primarily. Twitter and various other sites were used as well. A lot of car magazine blogs lit up about the story. Porsche and to be exact the venerable 911 were chosen as the adversary for a competition. The idea seems to have come from the head of Mini USA [Jim McDowell]. He at one time worked for Porsche of North America. With great wit and flair he had a commercial made up where he publicly challenged the head of Porsche to a duel so to speak of Mini against Porsche. This was aired on Face book and You Tube. Of course Porsche did not respond. He then did a second one in addition to a full page ad in the New York Times. They also rented an aircraft to fly over the Porsche headquarters in Atlanta with a banner summoning them to accept the challenge. Porsche politely sent him a letter declining along with a great video of Porsche’s racing history and basically telling Jim, they don’t pose they race for real!

  By now they had tons of Mini and Porsche owners enticed as to what was really up. Before anyone really knew something was going to happen they already had over 184,000 people on Face book liking the idea. With all the time spent  Mini had to make something happen so they went to Brad Davis [our local Mini and BMW sales head at Rick Hendricks] to put the race so to speak together. As they had already said they wanted it to happen at Road Atlanta Brad chose the infield performance/ go cart track and skid pad there. Everyone knows a 2010 911S will outdo a Mini S any day on the full course at Road Atlanta so this was a perfect venue to give the Mini even odds or a slight advantage. Of course Mini would have to also supply the Porsche for the event since Porsche NA declined. Next up came finding drivers for both cars. Brad is a very accomplished SCCA Mini racer and a very good auto crosser so Mini was taken care of. They put out an APB on Face book for a Porsche driver. As luck had it Cory Friedman of

Our local Autometrics had heard about the challenge and put his name in the bag. Brad knowing Cory’s abilities as a professional driver and a great auto crosser, and knowing he would be driving very closely to the 911 on course, chose him to be the 911 driver.

  So off we set on Sunday June 20th to Road Atlanta prior to the event day of the 21st. Mini promised to show the race one hour after it actually would occur. The time for the internet broadcast was to be 8:00 P.M. so the actual race was to be at 7 P.M.  . Gordon Friedman [owner of Autometric’s], Cory and I arrived at the track at 8:00 A.M. Monday morning to a buzz of activity. Mini had indeed rented the whole track for the deal and had invited up to 400 fans for free starting at 4 in the afternoon. They had a big crew of production folks from San Francisco as well as all of Mini’s corporate folks. Brad, Stu and other help from Rick Hendrick where there also. A catering company was there to feed dinner to the 400 guests. Media where there in the afternoon to report.

 The headliner to MC the event was Joe Rogan of [Fear Factor] fame. While he was clueless about racing he did a fine job of fitting in and making the event memorable.

 Mini went to great expense setting up a large autocross track and making it look like a race circuit with a heavily bannered start finish. Once the Porsche had been brought in and the Mini S as well all sorts of cameras were placed on the cars and we noted 20 miles on the 911 S’s odometer. We also noticed Toyo Proxies 4 tires had been put on the car. These are cheap all season mud and snow rated tires not ever put on a Porsche for sale from a dealer. There was also a spare set by the trailer. Cory and Brad began working the cars out and checking the tight course design. The track was definitely in the Mini‘s favor. Cory asked for one small adjustment and as they did runs for the camera he worked miracles driving the 911 generally a second or better than the little Mini S on its stock run flats. Mini sort of rented this 911 so we were not able to take it on the big course and actually the Toyo’s were getting worse as the day heated the track up. Cory looked online to find the tires were reviewed as being horrible for track use since they lost all grip when really heated up. As Cory went about getting interviewed numerous times I hopped a ride in Brad’s race Mini on the big course. I’ve done many DE’s in many cars in the last four years and have done several at VIR which has quite a lot of elevation changes and speed. I had no idea of the real effect of Road Atlanta from just seeing it on TV. As Brad worked us up and around we crested a hill at 120 or so and I thought back to my days of whitewater kayaking on The Gauley River. All of a sudden over the crest we descended and down quickly to a left right serious drop. Next he’s on the throttle again and another huge blind crest to have the bottom drop out even more

As we head to the hard right onto the front straight at full throttle. Another hard right at speed and we are rising again to yet another blind crest. Now it’s down to the left in a big drop and esses are coming up quick with huge gators strips at the apexes. Uphill again to another high speed left and we are on the back straight towards turns 6and 7 where the event area is. This is the ultimate track in elevation change and at speed. I exited the car after a few laps breathless and glad to have experienced it.

  By the afternoon a helicopter arrived for more footage and as the fans arrived and Skip Barber began to let visitors do parade laps the event was really beginning. Cory was worried about the lack of grip from the tires and the extra fuel the Mini crew added to the Porsche at lunch. He still felt at crunch time he could pull it off though. The timers were all set for accurate scoring and as the scorcher temps that day started to drop slightly it was getting close to that crunch time. At pretty much 7 sharp Joe called the racers to their cars and they set up on opposing sides. The premise was for each car to start in opposite directions. Each would run the course in one direction and then the other passing back through the start stop line twice and then time was taken. They then would switch sides and do this again two more times for a best of three. The fastest getting lane choice for the final [for all the marbles run! As Joe said]. The winner would be determined by that run. Cory smoked Brad on the first run, but had a cone penalty which put Brad as the winner. Cory then smoked Brad on the next two runs and took lane choice for the final run. He ran a flawless run on the spent Toyo’s finishing at 2.2 seconds over Brad on the final for all the marbles run. They had a winner circle stage set with champagne to spray and a WWF style belt for the winner. Cory took it in style and sprayed Brad and some other folks on the stage pretty good. He was then asked if he’d like to drive a John Cooper Works S on the track [the real track]. I got to hop in on that one and off we went out the gate from turn 7 as Cory quickly got it up to the same speed Brad had run the race Mini earlier. Over the crest we went and having never been in the car Cory tested the brakes a little earlier and found them to be better than expected so down we dove and up and over again and around . We lapped Brad driving Joe Rogan around and passed the track managers vehicle just past turn 7. He apparently noticed I had no helmet and we were traveling fast so he [as we found after another lap] had started to chase us. We made another lap finally seeing he was a ways behind and we quickly brought the car back into the fence line and returned it to the Mini folks. We began our return to Charleston shortly thereafter.

  The Mini folks were extremely grateful for Cory being willing to participate and they really took the fun factor to a great level all day long. On the web they had some issues trying to edit quickly enough to air and were well behind the stated time. This as well as the autocross course versus real track drew many venomous remarks from some on the Face book Page. Mostly the negative remarks were from non Mini people and others who just didn’t get the big picture of what Mini was up to. In the final analysis I would have to say they had a success. They proved a point of Mini being a fun sporty car to own at a relatively low price and they certainly tested the internet waters for a full advertising campaign which succeeded.

  My hat is off to Mini USA for this whole deal. Porsche still shined and the Porsche had a mere 50 miles on it at the end of the day. Some lucky buyer will be getting a 911S that is a lot more expensive, but still is the pinnacle of a true Sports Car in the world today!

To see more pictures from the event please visit Autometrics Gallery

Mini vs. Porsche Challenge, Cory Friedman, Road Atlanta, Autometrics, Gordon Friedman, Joe Rogan

Mini vs. Porsche Challenge, Cory Friedman, Road Atlanta, Autometrics, Gordon Friedman, Joe Rogan

Mini vs. Porsche Challenge, Cory Friedman, Road Atlanta, Autometrics, Gordon Friedman, Joe Rogan

Mini vs. Porsche Challenge, Cory Friedman, Road Atlanta, Autometrics, Gordon Friedman, Joe Rogan

Mini vs. Porsche Challenge, Cory Friedman, Road Atlanta, Autometrics, Gordon Friedman, Joe Rogan

Mini vs. Porsche Challenge, Cory Friedman, Road Atlanta, Autometrics, Gordon Friedman, Joe Rogan

Mini vs. Porsche Challenge, Cory Friedman, Road Atlanta, Autometrics, Gordon Friedman, Joe Rogan


Responses

  1. Mini did a great marketing job on this event. I’m a Porsche guy and am happy that the 911 won, but Mini really got a lot of buzz and the Rocky spoof video on YouTube was great.

  2. Wow this is great!! Cory, you’re the man! Wished I would have been there to enjoy it!


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