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Old 05-18-2007, 04:15 PM
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Default From the Vegas Strip to the Tail of the Dragon - A m|u Perspective

FROM THE VEGAS STRIP TO THE TAIL OF THE DRAGON
A m|u Perspective


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Written by Paul "R50 Paul" McCarthy
Photos by David "Konky" Cameron


The MINI Cooper is a funny car. One would think that a dopey, miniscule, gas-sipping, affordable mode of transportation would be just another ho-hum point-A-to-point-B machine that blends in with the rest of the vanilla economy cars littered across America. Fortunately, this is not so. A cult following has hovered over the car since its North American debut in 2002. People fell gaga for the lit'lest offering from BMW, propelling the car to hit status and attracting an army of like-minded individuals. These people loved the MINI for its handling, its good looks, and its blank canvas attitude that shone about the car, beckoning, "Mod me!” Clubs formed across the United States almost instantly, from the sunny weather in California, clear across the continent to the east coast. Clubs did everything from simple "Ice Cream" runs to full-bore track days. It was fun hanging out with other MINI fanatics, so why not make a big meet where the whole country could attend? Hell, why not make it two?

motoring|underground, above all, is about getting out and having fun. This year m|u was present at both of the premier U.S. MINI events, A MINI Vacation in Vegas (AMVIV) and MINIs on the Dragon (The Dragon or MOTD). Indeed, some of our members attended both! We do things differently at m|u. We stay up later and party harder than the typical MINI club. For example, while others are out on a run at AMVIV, we pull out the lawn chairs, stake the flag, and enjoy some interesting beers. Don’t get me wrong, motoring|underground enjoys these events, but we sometimes like to do our things a little differently...

A MINI VACATION IN VEGAS

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Festivities kick off on Thursday with the arrival of hundreds of motors from across the country. It’s fun looking over the edge of the Palace Station parking structure to see a sea of MINIs disappearing into the bottom, burbles and pops echoing up the ramp to the roof. At AMVIV, the Palace Station parking structure roof becomes the “MINI’s Only” parking zone. Checking into your Tower Room, you see the nearly 400 MINIs parked on top of the parking structure. After that it’s your choice. You could try and win big at the table to afford that new MINI mod you're planning on buying in the vendor area, or you can crack open a cold one and enjoy the fresh, crisp Las Vegas night with 400 MINIs and their proud owners.

Friday morning in Las Vegas, we're either sleeping a hangover off, or we're up at the crack of dawn to drive to the Hoover Dam. Better yet, a drive out to Spring Mountain Motor Speedway. Getting some personal driving instruction can be a great learning experience and a blast at the same time. motoring|underground’s own Bob Scheer brought out his USTCC-prepped ’02 Cooper S to regulate on some of Phil Wicks MINI Challenge drivers and other race prepped MINIs. Unfortunately, some on-track incidents ended Bob’s day early. Now into the mid-afternoon, all that desert heat gets to those at the race track and we retreat to our hotel rooms to prepare for the night's festivities. AMVIV sponsor M7 Tuning heads up a mixer in one of the Palace Stations banquet halls, complete with artwork from previous AMVIVs. Upon completion of the mixer, it’s time for one of the best events of AMVIV: the Las Vegas Blvd Strip Cruise.

“MINIs took over the street! It was amazing to see us under the flashing neon lights as we took over the four-lane road. Everyone’s roof-lines just light up on the strip,” stated Melissa Speiring from motoring|underground when asked about her experience at the Strip Cruise. Upon the return of the Strip Cruise participants, the real party begins. It’s a very relaxing atmosphere as drinks are poured, the m|u flag is flying, and some awesome late night parking structure pictures are taken.

In sticking to the “one step ahead of the rest” attitude, a few members of motoring|underground departed early to visit the Valley of Fire, a national park located on the border of Nevada and Arizona. Even though there were strict warnings about speed in the park, a good time was still had on the twisties. Some amazing pictures were taken with the National Park's red rocks and native rock carvings. After returning to the Palace Station, motoring|underground had to prepare for the AMVIV Banquet. During the open-mic portion of this event, motoring|underground’s Chris "Tüls" Amatulli, Emily "stoopidgirl" Martian, and Wes "Batrugger" Viselli took the stage. Their speech was simple: Batrugger held the motoring|underground flag proudly as Tüls said, “Motoring Underground dot com.” Later, motoring|underground picked up where they left off in the parking garage the night before, next to their MINIs, knocking back a couple of drinks.

Sunday was departure day in Sin City. The vendor area was being torn down and people were getting back on the road. What was once a parking structure of MINIs became a ghost town. The pops and burbles had left until next year.

“AMVIV was fun, I got to hang out with all the myoo'ers!,” said Kalvin "kalbone" Gautama of motoring|underground. Next year looks promising, as this event has grown each year.

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MINIS ON THE DRAGON

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Weary motors are arriving constantly, with bug-riddled windshields and license plates from states 2,000 miles away. During AMVIV, you have access to pretty much any type of food or accommodations you desire, but at the Dragon the closest market is a half-hour drive away and the snack shack closes early. In the Fontana Village, small bungalows replace 18th floor suites. Still, there is a charm to these little bungalows that puts one in the mood to mingle! Thursday evening at the Dragon consists of a mixer and a cigar sampling expo; a relaxing way to wind down the night.

Though most of the m|u arrived at the Dragon on Friday, that didn’t stop us from creating an unofficial event. The motoring|underground Meet was held at 2 pm and was quickly followed by a photo shoot at the Little Tennessee River dam. After some awesome photos, there was some down time until one of the Dragon’s most famous events, the Brew Swap. The Brew Swap was a big hit, as people from all around the country brought beers from their local micro-brews. As with any beer-related event there was a chugging contest and Beer Pong! This year they dub the event the “Beerlympics,” in which motoring|underground's own Tuls was crowned champion!

“There is just something about being around happy drunks and watching friends win drinking competitions,” said motoring|underground’s Susan "Nullipara" Person.

A rainy Saturday broke out over the Fontana Village. At first, hopes where down, but motoring|underground packed the camera bag and went out for some rainy shots. While others were shooting, others were driving the Dragon's 300+ turns--in the wet! motoring|underground's Chase Gamblin on the Dragon, “It has to be one of the best roads in the world to drive. The corners are so tight and the elevation changes are amazing. The whole time I was giggling! Well, until I got stuck behind someone slow, but once they moved, it was on again!” As with AMVIV, there is a banquet on Saturday night, followed by one of the Dragon’s premier events, “Midnight on the Dragon," but rain and darkness conspired to put a damper on that part of the evening.

Great times were had taming the Dragon's 300+ turns in the rain, and swapping brew from all over the nation, but Sunday had dawned. People traveled from up to 2,000 miles away just to be at this event and with exhaustion from the long, exciting weekend taking its toll, it was time to head home, thinking ahead to next year’s taming of the Dragon.

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REPRESENT

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motoring|underground represented at both of the nation's biggest MINI events. Our MINIs where shown off and driven hard, reinforcing motoring|underground's commitment to staying one step ahead of the rest when it comes to mods, taste, skill, and knowledge. “I can say that of most of the cars that stuck out to me had m|u stickers on them. Our presence was known,” quipped Griff "simplygriff" Person of motoring|underground. This dopey little car has become an obsession for many, and it will continue to influence people's lives for a long time to come, creating the “I need to get this mod before AMVIV” syndrome where one needs to stand out. motoring|underground will be present at next year's AMVIV and Dragon events with even more members. There will always need to be the standouts from the rest, motoring|underground will be there to fit the bill. µ

Last edited by iDiaz; 05-22-2007 at 04:47 AM..
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Old 05-22-2007, 03:06 PM
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