If you have attended MINIs At The Glen in the past few years, you may have seen or heard the words “all rallies lead to Torrey Ridge.” If your curiosity was piqued, keep reading!
In 2015, there were two major rallies from Rochester and Buffalo en route to MINIs At The Glen. Their plan was that the rallies would meet on Route 14, mere miles from Watkins Glen International and the event they’d been waiting for. The rallies knew that there was a scenic overlook that was not only large enough for everyone, but almost always empty, and this overlook would serve as the meeting spot so that all of the MINIs could roll into Watkins Glen International together.
The morning of the event arrived and the rallies were growing. Over 100 cars were expected - and expected in turn to meet at the overlook on 14. The plan was perfect… almost. The General Manager of Towne MINI, Mike Monteith, was heading to Watkins Glen International early that day to set up for MATG. As he drove down Route 14, he made a startling discovery: people, cars, runners, bikers, police, and more were on the road and not a spot of parking was to be found. Mike quickly called Rob Bond from the MINI Club of Western NY with a simple message: “You’re going to need a Plan B!” The rallies were due to arrive at the overlook soon and time to find that Plan B was in short supply.
Coincidentally, and luckily for the rallies, Rob Louden - the rally master himself - was also out and about earlier than usual that morning. This is where our story becomes a legend: to protect the innocent, Rob will neither confirm nor deny any of the following events.
Rob had seen that Route 14 was packed, and he put it together that another event, the Seneca 7, was scheduled for the same day as MINIs At The Glen. As he drove through the bedlam on 14, he searched for a solution and found himself parked in an empty parking lot down the road - the parking lot in front of Torrey Ridge Winery.
Now, Rob’s MINI sitting alone in a barren parking lot attracted the attention of a New York State Trooper, who pulled into the lot to survey the situation and find out what a single MINI was doing in a giant parking lot all on its own. When Rob answered that he was just the first person out, that he had over 100 more MINIs on the way to the overlook on Route 14, and there was nowhere for them to park, the State Trooper looked at Rob, chuckled, and drove off.
A few contemplative, and no doubt panicked minutes later, a local sheriff repeated what the State Trooper had done and pulled into the lot to ask what was going on. Rob repeated his story, expecting a similar response, but the sheriff didn’t deliver. Instead, he had an idea: why couldn’t the rallies meet here? He gave Rob the contact information of the then owner of Torrey Ridge Winery Esther Earle, wished Rob the best of luck, and continued on his patrol.
Esther was not a MINI fan, she said "We have Corvettes…I don't like those MINI Coopers" and wasn't too pleased about the idea of having her parking lot filled to the brim with these rallies or having her lawn used for overflow parking when the lot inevitably reached capacity. Somehow, despite all this, Rob was able to convince Esther to allow the MINI rallies to use the Torrey Ridge parking lot as their meeting point. Perhaps it was his charm and personality… and perhaps it was the wine and mead he bought that day - wine and mead that rumor says he's still drinking to this day. What really happened will remain a mystery. By the end of the event, Esther was wandering around the parking lot taking pictures with everybody else. We'd converted her!
The meeting spot at Torrey Ridge became a great success. MINIacs from all over the region met at the winery and decided to do some shopping there as well. A terrific time was had by all, and the rallies have been meeting at Torrey Ridge Winery ever since. MINIs At The Glen 2018 will mark the fourth consecutive year at Torrey Ridge, and though the Winery has changed hands since our first visit those four long years ago, the warmth and friendliness of the owners have stayed constant. We want to thank Paul and Jennifer in advance for making this meeting one of the highlights of MINIs At The Glen!
One final word of parting to end this legendary tale…
All rallies lead to Torrey Ridge!