Colin Mullan: Where Dreams are Made a Reality

Written by Team USA. Posted in Colin Mullan, Driver Blogs, Feature

Published on November 01, 2018 with No Comments

TOWCESTER, England – The past week was a great chance for us to check out different parts of England. We spent a few days in London itself, which was a very cool city! Being able to sightsee some of the most famous parts of the city like Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey was amazing. Aside from the non-Californian friendly weather, England is a great country with mesmerizing architecture. After our London excursions, we toured McLaren, Carlin and West Surrey Racing, and I’m glad we finished the week with MINI Plant Oxford.

We got up early to catch a train from Paddington Station in London to Oxford, where we taxied to the Heart of MINI. Tonine McGarvie with MINI USA reached out to Oxford and connected us with Stuart Miles, who showed us around the factory. I had such an amazing season with the MINI JCW Team this year, so I was very excited to see more of the iconic brand and its history and share that with Jake.

After getting a brief peek at the McLaren production line, where everything is handmade and cars come out at a decent rate, we were shocked to see the level of automation and efficiency within the MINI plant. We first toured the Body and White facility, where the frames of the cars are assembled. The MINI Hardtop 2-door, 4-door, and Clubman are all made on the same line, so the machines have to know which parts to use.

Next we went to the final assembly where the cars are put together. Each and every MINI is unique, so seeing so many different cars and variants for different markets come down the line and have everything so streamlined was very impressive. We spent about an hour and a half in the assembly area, and in that time over 100 cars were completed.

After checking out the museum and seeing some great cars in MINI’s history, we headed back to the Dempsey’s house in Brigstock, where I was able to catch up on some schoolwork over the weekend. We left for Silverstone on Tuesday, with full days of testing in sight.

On Wednesday morning, a sheet of frost covered the track, so we waited until we were positive that there couldn’t be any ice on the surface. It took a while to get some heat in the tires but the first session was great to figure out the track and shakedown everything. I got out of the car and could barely feel my hands and feet; luckily I found a space heater and was able to warm up a bit!

As the track barely heated up to about 50 degrees Fahrenheit/10 Celsius, we were able to work on our driving and gain more consistency. The Silverstone National Circuit requires a very different technical style to Brands Hatch. We have to focus on carrying loads of speed into the corner, as opposed to Brands where we had to brake hard and late, stopping the car up to get it rotated through the tight corners. Although it might not be as exciting to test on, the racing here should be very close and exciting!

After our busy day of testing, we were fortunate enough to have a tour of the Mercedes F1 shop in Brackley, about 20 minutes from the track. We met with Kimberly Stevens, who is from Ohio and works as one of Mercedes trackside aerodynamicists. Everyone at the team was incredibly friendly and were happy to show us around the facility. I was especially impressed with the scale models they use for wind-tunnel testing. All of the aero pieces are so intricate and take a lot of time to complete. Learning more about how these Formula 1 teams work and function is insane. From the logistics to engineering, there’s a lot of effort put into everything that goes on behind the scenes.

We have two more days of testing ahead, and with the looming possibility of rain throughout the event, it will be a very difficult but exciting race weekend!

Colin

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