While in the Southern California desert at the Joshua Tree National Park, stuntman and professional race car driver Rhys Millen and his friend Zac Palmer decided to take an unknown off-road desert route while driving their Mini Cooper Countryman. Zac had joined Millen in the Mini Cooper at the final stages of the “2016 Mini takes the State” rally across America, which had begun 14 days earlier.
For the 400-mile distance, Millen had intimated that the car might be difficult to navigate because it was not meant for that type of terrain, but was optimistic that the vehicle would make it.
The road started out well; it was wide, soft desert sand. It became much hotter than before with temperatures’ hitting 107 degrees. During the drive, rocks that could have injured the car undercarriage started appearing. Millen was teaching Zac how to drive without puncturing the tires and the oil pan. Balancing the car was difficult due to the uneven ground.
After 15 miles of the dirt road, Millen increased to 40 mph. The Mini Cooper was holding steady although it had taken a beating from the trail.
They came out of the desert successfully with the car still intact. Millen proved his prowess on the rough terrain, and they acknowledged that a Mini Cooper S Countryman could work some off-road terrain.
Millen stated that the off-road trek was the scariest thing for that day. Zac concluded if anything had happened to the Mini, they would still be in that desert with no water and under threat of snakes. He also noted that none of the other more than 900 cars that were heading to Palm Springs followed their route, and neither did any one of them experience the same adventure as they did.