Last month, at during the 24 Hours of Nürburgring, a plucky underdog stood out as a fan favorite, despite not having the chance to finish the race—the Bulldog Racing MINI. During its time at the ‘Ring, it was hit twice and suffered quite a bit of damage, which caused it to DNF (Did Not Finish), but not before winning the hearts of the crowd. Fast forward to just a couple of weeks ago, at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, and we had the chance to ride in the Bulldog Racing MINI with none other than Charlie Cooper at the helm.
Horatiu was on the ground in Goodwood and was the one who got to ride along with Charlie Cooper in the Bulldog Mini. What’s interesting is that they drove on public roads, which is an usual place to drive a race car. During that drive, they passed the first garage of the man himself, John Cooper, where racing Minis were born.
While John Cooper didn’t invent the Mini—that was Alec Issigonis—his contribution to Minis in racing is almost as important. Charlie Cooper is John Cooper’s grandson and is passing on the tradition of racing Minis. So getting a ride in a MINI racecar past the garage where racing Minis first started, being driven by the grandson of the man who started it, must have been a pretty special moment.
The Bulldog Racing Mini is pretty cool on its own, too. It’s a flamboyant little car, with its bright red and white livery, the aggressive aerodynamics, central exhaust, and massive rear wing. Obviously, its interior is quite spartan, with a full roll cage and racing seats with harnesses, but it’s not exactly supposed to be a Rolls-Royce, is it? A single-seater (dual in this case so we can ride in), the track beast has a 100-fuel tank and Makrolon window panes. BMW provided the M Performance brakes while the stripped-out cabin has a roll cage behind the OMP bucket seat.
The 302-hp engine sends power to the road via the same eight-speed Steptronic transmission used by the street-legal version. The John Cooper Works gets a mechanical differential lock with a 70% maximum locking effect to improve torque split. The sports exhaust with a catalytic convertor specific for race cars has been installed, along with a pneumatic lifting unit to quickly change wheels.
While it was on track at the Nürburgring, it seemed to be a promising little car, even if the world didn’t get to see its true potential. Bulldog Racing intends on heading back to the Nürburgring in 2023.