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Many MINIs make stop in Utah


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TOOELE COUNTY -- Thousands of MINI Cooper owners are driving their cars to a national convention in Denver. While traveling through Utah, a group of about 100 made a stop at the Bonneville Salt Flats Wednesday.

What is... Mini Takes the States?
Mini Takes the States is an annual cross-country rally of Mini owners and future owners from around the United States. The rally drivers take part in several events as they make their way east or west to Denver for a fun-filled weekend.

It's all part of the MINI Takes the States rally, which takes place every two years. The group that stopped in Utah began in San Francisco, picked up more drivers in Los Angeles, continued on to Phoenix and Las Vegas, and then Utah. The numbers get larger at each stop.

The car being celebrated is a small, sporty and speedy vehicle that has a very loyal, fun and close-knit ownership community.

"Actually the biggest appeal of the MINI is the community and the family of the MINI owners. We all stick together and just have a blast together. Things like this, the road rallies, [we] meet new people, create lifetime friends," said Denise Mueller, who drove to Utah from Carlsbad, Calif.

More than 6,000 MINI owners are expected to attend the convention in Denver -- at which time MINI will announce its newest model: the "MINI Countryman." It's a four-door, all wheel-drive model set to officially launch in January 2011.

What is... the Bonneville Salt Flats?
Stretching over 30,000 acres, the Bonneville Salt Flats has become the standard course for world land speed records. Since the first speed record attempts in 1914, hundreds of records have been set and broken in a variety of automotive and motorcycle classes- including the 300, 400, 500, and 600 mile per hour land speed barriers. This natural straightaway, located along I-80 near the Utah-Nevada border, is managed by the Bureau of Land Management.

Trudy Hardy, head of marketing for MINI USA, said, "We at MINI have a philosophy that we like to share things with our friends and community before we share with the world, so we're taking it on this trip so our MINI owners get to see it before the rest of the world does."

For the owners of the MINI Cooper, it's all about having fun and driving fast. On the Salt Flats, a few told us they were well over 110 miles per hour.

Beth Stenmark, a MINI owner from Los Angeles said she hit 140 mph on the track last year. She was thrilled to come back to Utah.

"This has really been a fun trip. It's a lot of driving, and then we have a social event, sleep and then more driving," Stenmark said.

MINI owners like Stenmark love every mile of it.

The MINI convention in Denver runs from Aug. 13 through Aug. 15.

E-mail: kmccord@ksl.com

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Keith McCord

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