Greetings, Fortech fans and Mini lovers!
I have some news to share with all our Mini racing enthusiasts that have followed and supported the Fortech Mini for the past 40+ years:
I am very pleased to say that the yellow Fortech Mini will be competing in SCCA Majors races, and hopefully qualifying for the 2016 SCCA Runoffs at Mid Ohio. As you may be aware, this Mini has, for all intents and purposes, been retired from SCCA racing since its fourth, and last, GT5 National Championship in 2004.
For a long time I had been thinking that maybe, one day, we would get the old team back together and have another run at what is now the GTL Championship. Doug Peterson has always been a great friend and driver, and we could never have chosen anyone better to take the Fortech Mini to the limit. Last year in 2014, when it was announced the SCCA Runoffs were to be at Laguna Seca, I felt that if ever we were going to run again, this would be the year. Sadly, that did not happen, and thus I have been thinking of other ways to get the Fortech Mini back on the track where it belongs.
Watching Joe Huffaker finish first and second at the last two SCCA Runoffs in the GTL had me thinking our car could still be competitive under the right circumstances. I enjoy vintage racing, but cannot do two race programs at the same time. Seven's main focus is on vintage, and we are developing parts that will make our motors the best available in the USA to better serve our many vintage customers with both parts and track support.
The best solution to get the Fortech Mini back in action was a new owner, but who? It would take special people, "Mini People", that have a great history in preparing race cars and the desire to run a Mini at the highest level. I think it was just meant to be, perfect timing for us both, that a new owner has been found and the deal is done. The next owners in the chain of custody of the Fortech Mini will be Andy and Rachel Nelson of Toybox Racing, who can take the Fortech Mini to the next level. Andy and Rachel will have an active website for all to follow in the upcoming season, and Seven Enterprises will continue to be a sponsor of this famous Mini (for the 39th consecutive year!). For those who do not know the Nelsons, please visit www.toyboxracing.com.
Part of me is sad, but that is overwhelmed by the excitement of seeing #11 fly around the corners again. Even though the car has not actively participated in racing since the 2004 championship, technical development continued that would help keep it competitive in the event it ever did return to racing; I know it will be even faster once it officially gets back on the track. The first "Nelson" race will be at Thunderhill in April 2016, before migrating to its new home in Canada. The Nelsons have also decided that the Fortech Mini will compete at the 2017 Can-Am at Sears Point, despite the SCCA Runoffs being held on the same weekend at Indy. There's no better thrill than racing with a huge field of classic Minis!
I could have never achieved the five National Championships and run over 100 SCCA races without the Fortech Racing crew. Life changes for us all, and for me, it is just not the same without them. The countless preparation hours at Fortech, the thousands of miles traveling to races all played a major part in the cars success. Thanks so much to everyone that had a hand in making racing this Mini the most fun and rewarding experience in my professional life.
~ Mike Kearney