In 2019, MINI celebrates 60 years. That’s 60 years since the Mini’s first inception was sketched in pencil on a napkin, laying the foundation for more than half a century of innovation, creativity and surprises.

Perhaps the greatest, and the first surprise in MINI’s racing history was the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, when the MINI Cooper S won for the first time. The small car shrugged off the supposed superiority of more powerful rivals. In a run over country roads and mountain passes, ice and snow, tight corners and steep gradients, the underdog prevailed to win the hearts of the public and motor sports fans alike.

Now 80 years old, Paddy Hopkirk's eyes still light up when he recalls the driving qualities of his winning car.

“Although the MINI was only a little family saloon, technically it had a lot of advantages. Its front-wheel drive and front-mounted transverse engine were a great advantage, and the fact the car was smaller and the roads were ploughed, they were quite narrow, so I suppose that was an advantage. We were very lucky – the car was right, everything happened at the right time and came together at the right moment,” he said.

It was a victory that was to be repeated here in Australia, when Finnish racing star Rauno Aaltonen and Australian Mini racer Bob Holden took out the Gallagher 500 – an endurance race which was dominated by Mini Cooper S. Again, the little car that could took on its more powerful peers, as Aaltonen and Holden raced the Mini to victory, with Mini taking out the first nine places in the race.

Fast forward to 2011, when MINI entered the Dakar Rally with MINI ALL4 Racing – a car designed specifically to take on the iconic race. It wasn’t Mini’s year- but 2012 was, with Stéphane Peterhansel and France Jean-Paul Cottret taking out the title. Mini itself labelled the win a surprise, but with a blueprint for success, went on to win Dakar for the next four years.

With 60 years of innovation and ingenuity already mastered, MINI is now looking to the future – with a 2019 Dakar campaign, electric innovation, and of course, fresh updates to the iconic design that has been a constant thread through MINI for the past six decades.