TWINI TARGETS TWENTY FIVE
Bay Bridge Bimmers and Minis of Oakland, CA has developed and built a car specifically for the 11th running of the 25 Hours of Thunderhill endurance race hosted by the National Auto Sport Association in December of 2013 at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, CA. Drivers Jacques Andres, Steve Romack and Scotsman Chris Knox, winner of the 2011 MINI Challenge UK will be sharing the car for the race. The car has been in testing since June at Sonoma Raceway.
“It runs!” he said jubilantly and his grin was ear to ear. He is Jacques Andres, race car builder and driver, veteran of the 25 Hours of Thunderhill and owner of Bay Bridge Bimmers and Minis. This project car is the latest in a series of race cars he has developed under the aegis of Andres Motorsports, a professional formula car team born in the 90’s. It is his number 31 orange and blue MINI Cooper race car, also a veteran of the 25. The MINI has proven to be durable and dependable, finishing the grueling enduro in 2003 and 2004. Durability finishes races, but it takes horsepower to win them and the MINI was down on horsepower. During the last off season Andres set about doubling the MINI’s output by dropping another supercharged John Cooper Works R53 MINI engine into the rear of the car. The transverse mounted front engine and transmission transfer power to the front wheels as Sir Alec Issigonis designed the original Mini to do. The Andres addition, the engine and transmission in the rear, powers the rear wheels resulting in an all wheel drive car with twice the horsepower of the original. An elegant dual linkage unites the two transmissions at the shifter in a solid chunky gearbox. Both throttles are connected by cable to the go pedal. The addition of power to the rear wheels alters the balance of the car. Andres reports that at speed it feels more like a regular race car which makes it much more nimble in the corners and that the twin engines deliver the grunt needed at the corner exits and on the straightaway.
Andres calls his twin engine MINI Cooper the TWINI. The first test day was to determine whether all the parts worked together and delivered the expected bump in horsepower. After the initial three lap outing Andres returned to the pits aglow with excitement. The car had exceeded his expectations in handling and performance. Now, as with any race car, tweaking is what remains. The suspension requires further tuning. More downforce is needed so a new wing has to be built and tested. The car itself will need more running in to be certain it is ready for the redoubtable 25 hour race in December. Andres is confident that it will be ready and able to take the checkered flag in December. He hopes that this car will carry on the giant killer tradition that the tiny Mini Coopers established in the Monte Carlo Rally in the mid sixties, leading the pack to the finish line three times in four years to the amazement and chagrin of the racing powers of the day.
Body, paint and engine build by Bay Bridge Bimmers and Minis. Electrical wiring by Eric Roche. Overall design and execution by Jacques Andres. Photos by Jerry Bradbury and Norm Nelson. Follow TWINI on Facebook