It was with great appreciation that we accepted Norm Nelson's invitation to participate in the "Mini Night with Paddy Hopkirk" at the Candy Store in Burlingame, California. The day that we spent at the venue was really great, being able to see all kinds of exotic and competition cars, some worth $20 million or more, and some priceless (I include the Fortech Mini amongst those, of course!).
Doug Peterson was a guest speaker, and I got to introduce my friend of 40 years to the gathering of 80+ Mini enthusiasts. Doug did a super slide show presentation of how the Mini has been a part of his life ever since his dad bought a brand-new Austin Cooper S from Palo Alto BMC in 1967; Doug still has that car in his garage!
Paddy was up next, and he gave a fantastic 45-minute talk about rally racing in the '60's. There were some really funny jokes too, and the evening was highlighted with a chorus of "Happy Birthday" to the rally legend (who turned 81 the previous Sunday). I was honored to spend some time one-on-one with Paddy, and I had to ask who was the best of the '60s-era Mini road racers in the U.K.; he did not hesitate to say, "John Rhodes, I could not stay with him."
~ Mike Kearney