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August 7, 2013
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Mini Cooper confab in Avon Thursday through Saturday

AVON — Mini Coopers are fast, they’re fun and yes, they’re cute, even though some chafe at all that adorableness.

Hundreds of Mini Coopers will roll into Avon for Mini in the Mountains, which makes the heart of the valley the Cuteness Capital of this spiral arm of the universe.

“They’re just fun,” said Don Suiter, president of Mini 5280, the Denver Mini Cooper club running Mini in the Mountains. “It’s a tiny shoebox with four wheels.”

Suiter calls himself an enthusiast, almost a Mini-cultist.

“Mini Cooper ownership is all about driving. We’re also a social club, so we like to have a party,” Suiter said. “We come from different walks of life, but we have one thing in common — love of the Mini Cooper.”

It’s a pretty eclectic group. The club’s webmaster is an actual rocket scientist with Lockheed Martin. When he’s not updating their website, he’s shooting stuff into space. Suiter spent 40 years as an executive with Bell, the telephone company. Now he drives his Mini Cooper where he wants, when he wants.

Speaking of what you want, Mini owners are fond of “You-ifying” their cars. Stripes, decorations and eyelashes on the headlights are big. Mini crunched some numbers and there are 30 trillion ways to You-ify your car. You’ll see plenty at Mini in the Mountains.

Mini in the Mountains started at Copper Mountain in 2006. The major sponsor is Ralph Schomp.

They wanted to look at different resorts, and they like driving around, so they wandered over to Winter Park and a few other places. This year it’s Avon.

They’ll start showing up Wednesday from all over North America, when they set up and swap beers and stories.

So far they have 253 registered cars, and probably another 100 will wander in unannounced.

“We’ll meet for breakfast, coffee, donuts — we’ll meet for anything. We’ll have 20 to 30 Minis rolling up the road,” Suiter said.

The Yalla-Yalla rally takes them to the middle of nowhere and gets them lost, which is way more fun than it sounds.

Mini in the Mountains includes a parade through Avon, ending at Nottingham Park with a Mini Taste of Avon. In Beaver Creek Village, there’s a Saturday morning car show. A Saturday afternoon group photo will be under the lifts in Beaver Creek.

Mini Coopers are manufactured in Oxford, England, by BMW. It’s the first car to place the engine sideways under the hood and push the wheels further to the corners, revolutionary for the 1950s. It made the Mini Cooper stable and fast enough to race internationally and win.

Suiter owns an all-wheel drive Mini Cooper and a Jeep Cherokee. His Mini Cooper is better, he said. He also owns a racing Mini that he’s fond of driving well above the posted speed limit, whatever it is, so he spends a bunch of time at the race track.

Mini Coopers are raced internationally, which was John Cooper’s idea. He’s the Cooper in Mini Cooper.

“Mini Coopers are fast but safe. They’re one of the safest cars on the highways today,” Suiter said. “They have eight airbags. People have walked away from horrific accidents. Sometimes they have to be cut out of it and they still walk away.”


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The VailDaily Updated Aug 7, 2013 10:16PM Published Aug 8, 2013 04:31PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.