Former racer backs Kiwi Mini for Bonneville world record

20 July, 2015

The New Zealand–built Project ’64 — the world’s fastest Mini Cooper S — will be out to improve on its own world speed record of 235.9kph at the illustrious Bonneville Salt Flats in August, as part of the annual Bonneville Speed Week event in Utah. This has been enabled, in part, by the sponsorship of entrepreneur and former race driver Mike Pero. Pero joins Mini as part of the growing list of companies throwing their support behind the ambitious project.

Guy Griffith, the team’s co-founder, says, “We really appreciate the support from Mike Pero and Mini. These two sponsors will allow us to achieve our goal to film the story of this very unlikely machine doing remarkable things.”

Even though he is well known for his real estate business, Mike Pero is no stranger to motorsport and motorcycles. He currently holds the New Zealand land-speed record for a 350cc motorcycle, set in 1979. He’s also a former competitor in the NZV8 and V8 ute championships. His real estate and mortgage brands have also sponsored several other race cars, including Greg Murphy and Richard Moore’s entries in the NZ SuperTourer series.

“We’re very proud to be part of this project. I think it’s a ‘Kiwi thing’ wanting to break speed barriers on equipment that’s built right here down under … I believe these guys have every chance of setting a new world record,” says Mike Pero.

Based on a formerly humble 1964 Cooper S, the red rocket is no longer just another Mini. Built by the small Project 64 squad in Nelson, the 350hp Mini features an endless smorgasbord of modifications, including a turbocharger and BMW K1200 motorcycle head to support its highly tuned race engine. Four-bolt–main bearing caps, Specialist Components con rods, Ross forged pistons, a specially developed Heritage Garage/Marine Crankshafts crankshaft, intercooled IHI turbo, Hi-Lo adjustable suspension, and some subtle external aerodynamic aids are also included in the Mini’s mods.

This will be the second time the Mini has visited Bonneville, having last toured in 2012. Operating on a shoestring, the group managed to set an impressive top speed of 235.9kph, beating the previous record in its class at the time by 40kph. For their 2015 effort, the team will be hoping to hit 281kph (175mph), edging even closer to the hallowed 300kph marker.

Check out part one of the team’s ‘Road to Bonneville’ web series below:

The continued efforts of the Project 64 team are reminiscent of Burt Munro’s famed motorcycle Bonneville land-speed world record he set in 1967, which went on to be immortalized in the film The World’s Fastest Indian in 2005.

The event itself is scheduled to kick off on August 8–14. A camera crew will be following the team’s efforts for a documentary scheduled to air on New Zealand screens in September.

Travelling companion

It’s easy to see why the Morris Minor Traveller was one of the best-loved variants of the Morris Minor. Introduced in 1953, it was equipped with the same independent torsion bar front suspension, drum brakes, and rack and pinion steering as its saloon sibling but, with their foldable rear seat increasing versatility, many Travellers were used as trade vehicles, says Derek Goddard. Derek and Gail Goddard, the owners of this superbly restored example, have run Morris Minors since before they were married in 1974.
“Our honeymoon vehicle was a blue Morris Minor van — it was a rust bucket,” says Derek.

Super Leicht Gullwing

It’s fair to say that nothing much in the classic Mercedes world gets past Mercedes-Benz Club stalwart Garry Boyce so it wasn’t surprising to learn that around 15 years ago he had sniffed out an extremely rare 300SL lightweight Gullwing as well as a 1958 300SL Roadster hiding away in the Waikato. The cars were not for sale but Garry eventually managed to persuade the owner to allow him and his restoration team to take a look at the Roadster. They discovered a very distressed but largely unmolested car. The car was so original that the body had never been off the chassis, meaning most of the parts and fittings were still present and correct, as they had been fitted by the factory.