CHEYENNE – Jim and Paula Taylor parked Lil’ Red with her back to the Senator’s Restaurant, where she could keep her blue eyes trained on the action around her.
Lil’ Red was one of hundreds of MINI Coopers gathered Tuesday evening at the Terry Bison Ranch outside Cheyenne.
She’s a red 2012 MINI Cooper convertible with white racing stripes and white waves on her sides. She gets her blue eyes from a cartoon sunshade reminiscent of Disney’s Cars.
The MINIs are all part of the MINI Takes the States rally that began July 9 in Atlanta. The event ends July 23 in Palm Springs, California.
Most of the MINIs in Cheyenne right now are from other states or countries, but Lil’ Red is local.
Her owners, the Taylors, live in Laramie County between Burns and Pine Bluffs.
Jim, Paula and their kids, Daniek and James, own seven MINIs between them. Including Lil’ Red, each has a name. Paula listed Cowboy, Bluebell, Gyllian, Bryn and Q.
“All of our cars have names because they all have personalities,” Paula said.
Jim said it’s tradition to name MINIs because owners receive adoption papers when they purchase one of the cars.
The gathering at Terry Bison Ranch included a barbecue and music for all the participants in the rally. The drivers, called “motorers” by MINI, all stopped at the ranch after driving to Cheyenne from the rally’s previous stop in Sturgis, South Dakota.
All the MINIs will gather at the Cheyenne Depot Plaza at about 7:30 this morning for breakfast and announcements before leaving for Park City, Utah, at about 9 a.m.
MINI hosts the MINI Takes the States rally every two years to thank its motorers for their loyalty and to raise money for a good cause.
This year, that cause is Feeding America. Rob Duda, MINI communications consultant, said the organization originally set a goal of raising enough money during the rally to provide 800,000 meals across America.
“Feeding America estimates that every $1 is 11 meals, according to their calculations, and we surpassed 800,000 meals, I believe, the morning we were in Minneapolis,” Duda said.
MINI Takes the States stopped in Minneapolis Saturday night and left Sunday.
Patrick McKenna is the Manager of Product Planning and Aftersales for MINI. He said the organization changed its goal to
1 million meals after it reached 800,000. Duda said the rally hit that goal Monday.
He said the motorers are all raising money in different ways. Each set up a personal donation page online for friends and family to donate. Some people were selling jewelry, brownies, buttons, etc. out of their MINIs to help raise funds, he said.
“As they reach new levels, they get badges for their cars to show how much money they’ve raised. Each morning, we’ve been announcing the top five fundraisers. It’s turned it into a fun competition,” he said.
The Taylors also are raising money for multiple sclerosis through their local MINI club, MiniCOW, which is short for MINI Coopers of Colorado and Wyoming.
Jim and Paula started the club three years ago and now have more than 200 members from various states. They also share members with Denver club MINI 5280.
They said they like their MINIs because they are reliable and roomy. Paula said they live off 7 miles of dirt road and their MINIs haven’t shown any signs of breaking down, though previous cars did.
Also, clubs like MiniCOW and events like MINI Takes the States give them a chance to socialize with other MINI owners who are just as passionate about their cars.
McKenna said, “One thing we like to say about MINI is, ‘It’s the only car that comes standard with friends.’”