Mini Festival Brands Hatch - late sixties ?

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Chris Martin
Joined: 2011-08-20

There is a blur between '69 and the mid seventies, such that these days I have to ask if anyone else was there, or what did we get up to.

Just a prod to see if anyone else remembers this, or was I dreaming?

It was the late sixties after all, but I went to Brands Hatch, a  sunny day, lots of people, lots of Minis.

1969 I think?

So what was it? I think one of the major papers was involved - was it the Daily Mail, or Daily Express Mini Festival?

Of course there were Mini races;

John Rhodes in the green with white stripes car won?

Stunts, celebs etc, as you might expect, but in my confused 'trapped-in-the-sixties' dream there was a competition between four art colleges who each had a team of art students, a Mini, and a load of paint. I think they had an hour to paint their car. Given the era it was inevitably a psychedelic mess of swirls and flowers, one team at least did not even bother to leave the windows clear. And then they had to drive the car a short distance along the pit straight, but with the competitive element of seeing how many art students could fit in a Mini.

Honestly, I am sure I remember the winning total was over twenty - was anybody else there?

Was that another Brands bash where Chris Barber's band were playing?

Was the back stage pass to a Grateful Dead show at the Lyceum in '72 ("hey dude, lick my hand")  the last straw that resulted in a very untrustworthy memory?

So much fun, so many questions.

Chris M.


Chris Martin
Joined: 2011-08-20

OK, a bit more detail, after a while on the Google I found the following.

 It seems there was a Mini Festival in late May 1967, but the one I was referring to was the Grand Mini Festival on June 2nd 1968.

There were races for F3, back in the 'screamer' days and although the usual suspects, Lanfranchi, Lucas, Miles and Gethin were there it seems that round was won by Tim Schenken.

The 'Tootal Menswear' 10 lap GT race was won by Barrie Smith in a Chevron B6 BMW.

There was a competition to see how many students could get in a Mini, and it was won by a determined group from the Royal College of Science, which was a part of the Imperial College of Kensington. They managed 18 by chatting up the smaller built among the nurses and students associated, and drove the car the required 50 yards, but although the challenge was originally suggested by the McWhirter brothers, they did not get their recognition in the Guiness Book of Records due to a disagreement over some minor admin detail.

There was also the usual display by the Red Arrows, but more interestingly, as I never saw it again, there was a demonstration by a 'Dan Dare' character of taking off and landing, (never mind the hanging around in mid-air in between), without a plane or nelicopter, and nothing more than a rocket powered back pack to get him up there.

I do know the event drew a large crowd, so surely there must be others who have memories of the day?

Chris M.



59Impala's picture
Joined: 2012-05-03


I can confirm that I was there as a callow youth of 14 in 1969. I have a feeling that they also had a Mini Festival either in the previous year or maybe in 1970, I'm pretty sure that it was held more than once and that Mini owners got free admission. The students were given aerosol cans of paint to decorate a Mini and when they were done I managed to 'acquire' both used and unused aerosols. These I took to school and sold to my fellow pupils, I think I charged from a shilling upwards depending on how much paint was left. In doing that I managed to get enough money to buy a Solido model, could have been a Chaparral 2F from Eltham Models. Foreign model cars were very hard to come by and expensive back then, I have a feeling it cost at least 25 shillings which was a lot of money for an impecunious schooboy. Now I feel so old remembering all that but I still go to Brands every now and then.



Chris Martin
Joined: 2011-08-20

Not sure if there was another in '69 but the events you describe certainly match my memories which I believe are from the 1968 Mini Festival, 2nd June to be precise. And as I mentioned above, there had already been the first one in late May '67 but I think that was mainly just a low key show and a series of Mini races.

The info I found on Google that I included in my second post ties in with what I do remember.

I would like to see if anyone has any photos. At the time I used to take my camera everywhere. It was an all plastic job made in Hong Kong and called a 'Diana'. For the grand sum of 9/6d from Woolworths and using the old 120 roll film. Mostly black and white, as colour film was so much more expensive then.  

I had photos of a lot of sixties racing, unusual cars, that 1967 Brooklands reunion I posted about previously, the 1968 Grand Prix at Brands, even of the Rolling Stones free Hyde Park show of July 1969, nad my first trip to Paris the week after, but of course I never saved any of these. I guess they all went in the trash eventually.

Idiot !

Chris M.
Joined: 2014-01-10

There was a 2nd Grand Mini Festival, have a look at the poster for the event. It ahs various Mini styles that were probably used as a guideline for the competitions.