Plastered while driving

Last Sunday. The York ring road. Toys R Us car park. One hundred Minis.

Oh, yes – it was ‘Heartbeat Run’ time again. After last year’s hoot, fellow-owner Harriet and I were well up for another scamper across the Moors to Scarborough. Did it live up to the joyously barking first run? No, not quite. Was that the weather’s fault? Pretty much, yes. Was it still fun? Heck, yeah.

Sure, it’s predictable of me to say this, since I own one and all, but there’s something gloriously cheeky about the new Mini. Yes, yes, it’s a hunk of metal and plastic and I’m anthropomorphising horribly, but look: imagine you’re in the middle of a pack of thirty or so Minis, scurrying around twisty little roads, and everybody you pass is smiling, laughing, and waving. Yes, even the poor sods driving Mondeos in the other direction, who stopped to graciously let the first one through and now have a seemingly unending stream of the things. It brings a daft grin to your face, I tell you.

Then there’s the fact that, it seems, no two are the same (high marks this year to the black one with lots of chrome, the other black one with a giant Michael Caine on the roof, and Laura’s beautiful new vintage white one with beige leather interior). And then there are the owners, a diverse group who are, en masse, rather entertaining. Sure, there’s a large posse of tuning-mad nutters with body kits and lights and snarly exhausts, but they’re outnumbered by the kids who’ve dragged their parents along. And by and large the tuners are the better drivers, I reckon – they’ve spent serious money, after all. These aren’t Vauxhall Novas.

The route this year (via Castleton, Blakey Ridge, Hutton-le-Hole, Rosedale Chimney, and… actually, pretty much everywhere) was even better than last year’s; excellent roads, terrific scenery. Downsides? The leader of the group I was in was worried about her husband’s dubious navigation, and as a result drove rather too quickly – not dangerously so, but you can’t keep a string of 35 cars together if you’re constantly at the speed limit. A bit of a shame. More significant was the weather, which was at best ‘atmospheric,’ and at worst downright miserable, which put a literal damper on the regrouping stops.

Muddy MiniHowever, it faired up for the last stop above Scarborough, and any lingering worries about the group being a bit less sociable than last year’s were laid to rest. I ran around trying to spot who’d managed to splatter mud furthest up their car. One couple had managed to spray the goopy stuff forwards over their bonnet (eh?), which I thought scored highly, until they showed me what had happened. Apparently they’d had to stop on a hill and had suffered a smidge of wheelspin when starting again. Only, they’d had their windows down. Their back seats – and, for that matter, they themselves – were plastered. Marks for artistic impression, I tell you. My own entry (pictured) paled in comparison.

Ah, fun. I may have to do the ‘Rocks and Radars’ Dales run in April…

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