Sunday was the annual Brooklands MINI Day, and I took my MINI and went for a drive to catch up with some friends that I have not seen in awhile. I used to be a little more active with MINI events, but I haven't been to any of the main or even smaller events for the past few years. Despite that, I've also never been to the Brooklands MINI Day, which is one of the first events of the season. It's also an event that isn't too far from where I live; Brooklands is located near Weybridge in Surrey. This year, a friend reminded me, so I put it in the diary.
Sunday was also the morning of the time change to British Summer Time, so I lost an hour of sleep, and the flat below my one decided to have a party into the early hours, and they wouldn't shut up. With little sleep due to their inconsideration, I still managed to force myself up in order to go.
The weather was not great, and we had rain throughout the day. Luckily, it was not hard rain in the morning, but it get worse after noon. Apparently, the weather's never great at Brooklands MINI Day, and they had snow a couple of years ago. The weather was beautiful during the week, but I wish it could be nice at weekends.
The first stop was the Concord plane. Brooklands is the location where parts of Concord were constructed. The front and back sections of the plane were made here, and they were put together in Filton (Bristol). The Concord tour needs to be booked separately, so that's what we did first.
The Concord located here is one of the ones used for tests. It was decommissioned, and they had to put it back together. I was actually amazed at how small I thought the plane was as I imagined it was larger.
We received our boarding passes and were told about the plane's history and various other facts about Concord before we stepped inside. These planes only took about four hours to fly to America from the United Kingdom, and they are the first passenger plane to break the sound barrier. The plane is built with these factors in mind, such as providing expansion and cooling inside the panels. Apparently, breaking the sound barrier means that the plane will get very hot, and it also caused the planes to expand. The floor was 'floating' to allow this expansion, and the angle of the cockpit needed to be able to rise and fall for the pilots to see the runway during takeoff and landing.
Another wheel was located at the back of the plane just in case the pilots miscalculated the angle while landing, and a mini-propeller is also underneath the plane so that the plane can still function if the engines cut out. The sheilds are also put over the engine to control the thrust.
We were shown the passenger area of the plane, and we could also have a quick look inside the cockpit (at a distance) to see all of the controls.
I would have loved to have taken a Concord flight, but I was a little bit too young as the planes were decommissioned in the early 2000s after an issue during takeoff at Paris airport. (Note that the issue wasn't even Concord's fault; it was a previous plane that had left metal on the runway which damaged the plane, and I guess most accidents happen during landing and takeoff anyway.) Apparently, people lost a little bit of faith in them, plus the planes were highly expensive as they drank a lot of fuel.
The end of our tour was a video with a 'mock takeoff' so that we could pretend that we were taking off and flying, and this was set to Queen's "Mr. Fahrenheit" song with several shots of the planes and vibrating seats during takeoff and at various points where the plane gathers momentum to break the sound barrier. All of us received a flight certificate on the way off the plane.
After the Concord experience, we wandered around other older planes in the open yard and also went into a hangar which was filled with various historical planes from as early as 1907. We saw a World War 2 plane, the Wellington, which was rescued from its watery grave at Loch Ness, and there were other World War 2 planes. There were also displays on weapons and bombs. During the wetter moments, the museums became extremely popular as people tried to keep dry.
Brooklands is the first purpose-built race track in the world, and it was built in 1907. In the photograph below, the tilted concrete that the cars are on is part of the old race track. Not much of it exists, but I walked down it to look at the MINIs that were on display.
Most of the MINIs there were classic MINIs, and each one is unique. There's really not two alike as these cars are easy to customise to the personality of the owner.
The old race track does get extremely steep, but it's probably not too noticeable in the photographs I've taken. You really do have to climb on hands and knees to get to the 'top' portion of it, and I saw a couple of guys do this. On the other side of the track and beyond the trees is the main train line to London Waterloo, which I'd travel on each and every day. Brooklands can be seen if you're on a train and passing through.
The red classic MINI is a classic version of my MINI. This is the style of MINI that toy Corgi brand cars use.
Surrey New MINI club had one of the largest displays, and all of these are the new MINI car. They are larger and take up more room. The cars are larger because of the restrictions in law, so they have to be larger and thicker. Each year, different rules are released for car manufacturers. The new MINIs also have to adhere to the changing rules, so differences can be seen in the different years. For example, there are restrictions for the angle of the front of the car now to protect pedestrians in case they are hit by the car. As a result, a company or MINI could never make another car that looks exactly like the classic.
The classic cars are cuter, despite the safety aspects mentioned and the lack of comfort.
Brooklands was extremely busy with MINI enthusiasts, and the photograph below was taken in the mid-morning while the majority of the cars were still there and lined up on the old race track.
The below indicator panel was 2012's special edition MINI. MINI were one of the sponsors of the Olympic Games (see my post here), and they brought out a MINI with special Olympics graphics and interiors. Logo aside, the car does look beautiful with its red, white, and blue interior and exterior trim. The roof has a full-sized Olympic logo. I imagine that these will be sought-after in another fifty years.
As the picture below shows, the weather did get worse and I found it a challenge to keep my camera lens protected.
The next stop were the museums so that I could get out of the rain, and everyone else had the same idea. The museums had a variety of race cars from the early days to the modern Formula 1 cars. There were cars built to break speed records as well as cars that were taken on the track here at Brooklands. One of the cars was the Chitty Chitty Bang Bang car, and another famous one is the Napier Railton. Another building contained the London Bus Museum.
After the museum visits, I headed back out into the rain in order to watch the MINIs in action.
Unfortunately, the weather led to the cancellation of the MINI hill climb, which is set on the Test Hill (built in 1907). This tests cars' ability to climb the hill as well as their brakes.
I normally have not posted much about my MINI days out in the past, but one of the best events that I have ever been to was MINI United Day, which attracted owners from all countries. It was held toward the end of May in 2009 in Silverstone, and I posted about it in my post MINI United!.