Minis Takes the States Tour Visits Clay County

Thursday, August 7, 2014
Three of the Minis which visited Piggott as part of the Minis Take the States tour on Monday. The Mini in the foreground is being driven by Peter Rawlinson, who is posting a daily blog concerning the tour on the website miniusanews.com

Throughout its history Piggott has definitely seen more than its share of travelers. First built along the Old Military Trail, which served as the primary all-weather north-south route in the region, the city later welcomed the railroad and in later decades the state and federal highway system.

But in more recent times the highways which lead in and out of Piggott have also become popular among those on more unique journeys across this land. As a result, in the past several years bicycle tours, wagon trains and even a Model-T tour have found their way to the city.

On Monday, Aug. 4, another long list of travelers, some of them literal globetrotters, came to visit the city as the Minis Take the States tour passed through on their Memphis to St. Louis leg.

Jim and Mary Wellington, of Los Angeles, enjoy a break during the Minis Take the States tour which made its way through portions of Clay County on Monday. The Wellingtons were among over 1,000 participants who traveled through the region as part of the cross-country tour.(TD photo/Tim Blair)

The tour of the popular small cars kicked-off on Saturday, July 26, in San Francisco and is scheduled to end on Saturday, Aug. 9, in Boston. Along the way the route will take the caravan through 18 states, and 15 major cities.

Stops during the western swing included Reno, Nev., Wendover, Utah, Grand Junction, Colo., Lubbock, Austin and Dallas Tex. and Memphis.

The traveling motorists were scheduled to spend Monday night in the St. Louis area, and take part in activities at the race track across the Mississippi River in Illinois.

According to organizers, at any given time there are an estimated 1,100 to 1,200 in the procession, with many joining for just one or two of the legs. All-in-all it is estimated at least 350 will complete the entire trip, such as the Wellington's of California.

"We're actually from Los Angeles, so we first had to drive up to San Francisco to meet up with the main group," noted Jim Wellington, who along with his wife, Mary, is enjoying the trip. "We stopped in Reno and visited the International Bowling Museum, I got a cool UFO button in Roswell, New Mexico and when we were in Texas the other day my wife won the armadillo race."

"Last night we visited Beale Street, we're having a great time," wife Mary added.

The Wellington's have been members of the SoCal Mini Maniacs since 2007, and have a highly-individualized Mini with the personalized license plates "QXXOTIC."

"I think we might get to race go-karts at the track tonight, I brought my helmet with me," Jim explained as he poked around in the tiny hatchback jammed with their possessions.

According to Peter Rawlinson, a blogger for Mini USA Press, there are also a number of "friends" along for the trip. His blog reported the roll call of pets indicated a total of 122 dogs, six cats, two reptiles and one bird who have joined their owners on the MTTS 2014 event.

"I noticed there was a Hemingway home here," Rawlinson inquired with an English accent, seemingly inconsistent with the New Jersey tags on his Mini. In keeping with his responsibilities as a journalist, he then documented some of the interesting points of the city for one of his upcoming blog posts.

Among the hundreds of Mini owners, many have traveled from all over the world to participate. In fact, according to Rawlinson, two of the participants are taking part in the event as part of a round-the-world trip.

Fritz Kreis and Thomas Fuerst began their journey in their home city of Heidelberg, Germany in mid-June and barely made it to San Francisco to begin the MMTS. Along the way they traveled across Poland, the Baltic States, Russia and Korea before reaching Japan. From there they flew their Mini hardtop to California to begin the 5,200 trip across America.

Following Monday night's stop in the St. Louis area the participants were scheduled to travel to Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo, N.Y. and Bethlehem, Penn. before ending their journey in Boston on Saturday, Aug. 9.

Those wanting more information on the tour may visit the website www.miniusanews.com

Rawlinson's blog may also be accessed on the website, along with photos uploaded each day of the event.

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