No Mini ever made enjoyed quite the send-off that is accorded the flock that set off from Kaitaia every other Good Friday bound for Invercargill, following in the tyre marks of the little yellow one that starred in the iconic movie Goodbye Pork Pie.

They roared off once more from the Orana Motor Inn in Friday's pre-dawn gloom, bound for their first overnight stop in Taupō, one or two sounding like slightly better bets for getting there in one piece than others.

What they shared were ebullient drivers and crews, all looking forward to the adventure ahead, and to raising a great wadge of cash for Kids Can.

Some were much more Mini-ish than others, the latter including an extraordinary 1965 model, registration MNEUTE, with metal truck driver Chris Westlake at the wheel and Tracey Cross (ex Kaitaia, now both from Matakohe) in the passenger seat as it pulled out into Commerce St and pointed south.


This Mini was actually masquerading as a Mack truck, complete with a pretty convincing Mack hooter, exhausts and roof adornments, and a miniature trailer, laden with 150kg of kumara that Chris and Tracey aimed to sell as they drove south.

The first box actually changed hands (for $60) in the Orana carpark, although that wasn't going to lighten the load for long. Chris said Kaipara Kumara, which had donated the cargo, would have more for him to collect as he passed through Brynderwyn.

The car, one of three Minis Chris owns, had taken about a year to put together in its current configuration, he said. The panel and engine work were done in Te Awamutu, the trailer was built in Dargaville, and he was responsible for the all-new interior.

This was his sixth Pork Pie Run, he added, while Tracey was making her debut.

They were looking forward to scuttling along at around the legal speed limit, even with the kumara payload, albeit a little slower on the hilly bits (although MNEUTE had crested the Brynderwyns in third gear on the drive to the start line in Kaitaia).

And even before the rally officially began it was showing signs of being a huge success for Kids Can, with $220,000 in the kitty, much of that thanks to the pre-rally fundraising efforts of the drivers and crews.