Mini enthusiasts to flock to Norfolk race track for celebration of Britain’s best-loved car

An iconic Mini Cooper badge. Picture: Chris Bishop

An iconic Mini Cooper badge. Picture: Chris Bishop - Credit: Archant

It is one of Britain's best-loved cars that became a style icon while making motoring affordable to the 1960s generation.

A Mini Cooper. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A Mini Cooper. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

And now Mini enthusiasts are to flock to a Norfolk racetrack this weekend for a celebration of all that is good about their favourite vehicle.

Until it was built by the British Motor Corporation in 1959, the novel idea of owning a car was something of a dream for most families – with most cars and the cost of petrol out of reach for average earners.

But with its distinctive compact design making it cheap to run and easy to drive, the Mini changed all that – with 1m rolling off the production lines at Longbridge and Cowley by 1965 and 3m by 1972.

It reigned supreme at the top of the car market for 20 years until more modern and practical alternatives overtook it.

A Mini Cooper. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

A Mini Cooper. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Eastern Counties Newspapers

But in recent years it has enjoyed something of a rebirth, albeit under a redesign under German manufacturer BMW.

Yet its diehard fans say the modern version is a worthy evolution of the 1960s classic – and many will celebrate both the old and the new at the Mini Festival at Snetterton race circuit on Saturday and Sunday.

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Tom Reader, chairman of East Coast Mini Club – who himself has owned five Minis and today runs a third generation Mini Cooper S in British racing green – said: 'It's a really fun car to drive.

'The original design was a response to the British petrol crisis at the time and they came up with a really innovative design.

'It was a major step forward. There are a lot of cars that owe their design to the Mini.'

He admitted that its owners have had a 'love-hate relationship' with their vehicle, as they are known for being temperamental.

Mr Reader added that 'rust is what kills many a good Mini' and that its size was a 'double-edged sword', as it was not always the safest on the motorway alongside large lorries.

He also said there is an ongoing debate between Mini enthusiasts about whether the BMW version is as good as the old one.

His take is: 'Big or small, love them all.

'It is a growth of the product rather than a loss from the original. The funding behind it is German but you get the benefit of all technology.'

Organisers of this weekend's festival say: 'There will be loads to see and do at Mini Festival for both fans of the original pre-66 Austin design and lovers of the newer models.'

It will include a race programme headlined by the Mini Challenge, with full grids of the contemporary BMW-built machines racing. Those races will be supported by a healthy line-up of races for older cars, with a line-up of off-track entertainment including countless Minis on display – allowing enthusiasts to mingle and swap stories.

Other highlights include a Saturday evening showing of the Italian Job and live music both in the day and evening. More free public attractions include a pit walk on Sunday, and a 30ft climbing wall.

Discount adult tickets for the Snetterton Mini Festival are available for £20 online in advance with free entry for under 13s.

For more information or to book, call 0843 453 9000 or visit