Travel: Meet Penelope, A Mini Cooper Going To Mongolia For An Awesome Cause

Meet Penelope, A Mini Cooper Going To Mongolia For An Awesome Cause

By Shayan Bokaie
July 3, 2016

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia is unlike Stuttgart, Germany. It is also unlike Detroit, Michigan, and definitely not like Modena, Italy. It has not produced as many racing world champions as Finland, and is not home to any major race circuits. There is no Concours d’Ulaanbaatar and they do not host a Mongolia Car Week.

You might think that Mongolia is not a particularly interesting destination for us petrolisti…but you’d be wrong.

Ulaanbaatar has been the finish line (now Ulan-Ude for logistical reasons) to the world’s most humble charity road race, the 10,000 mile Mongol Rally. Drivers begin at Goodwood just a few weeks after the Festival of Speed, but at the wheel of far, far different vehicles. Rather than priceless race cars at the hands of motoring legends, participants are wielding much different beasts: the very strict regulations dictate: “You need to drive a small, shit car to make the rally tougher. With a small car you are more likely to break down.”

To summarize, the Mongol Rally is like if the Concours d’Lemons had a child with Mille Miglia…times 10. The clear theme is adventure, and we like adventure.

Team People With Penelope

This time last year, my dear cousin, Nick Bokaie, spontaneously flew to Austin, Texas to pick up his sight unseen purchase: the noble Penelope, a peppy, patinaed 1970 Austin Mini Cooper with the vision of entering it in the Mongol Rally. After a few hot laps at COTA, Nick and his copilot/best friend, Roberto Rosila, hauled ass straight to the Petrolicious office in Los Angeles. Lacking a proper shower and stinking of gasoline (not particularly unusual for meetings at HQ), they pitched us on the idea of sponsoring the car and discussed their charitable ideas for the project, which we love.

As you can see, Penelope is just a bundle of happiness and naturally garners the attention of onlookers. During the drive from Texas alone, the drivers met countless admirers who were quick to take pictures, share personal stories, and shoot the breeze. It became obvious that in addition to spreading smiles, Penelope was a magnet for connecting people, which is what our Drive Tastefully ethos is all about.

We’re sponsoring Team People With Penelope to continue spreading the love across the world and to represent, celebrate, and enjoy the very essence and common thread of enthusiasts: passion, adventure, and friendships—both old and new. Penelope has been retrofitted as a rolling photobooth to capture the stories of friends they meet along the way, which we’ll be bringing to you as we check-in with Nick and Roberto during their ~1 month journey (think Humans of New York meets The Italian Job).

Nick, Roberto, and Penelope Need Some Help

Donate: The Mongol Rally is a charitable endeavor and requires teams to raise $500 for a charity of their choice. Nick and Roberto want to take it a step further and see if we can raise even more for a hometown charity, Social Advocates of Youth, who are dedicated to turning the tide for at-risk and homeless youth with housing, counseling, and job opportunities. 70% percent of donations go direct to the charity, and 30% goes to the team to subsidize some of their trip expenses.


Partnerships: Have a cool product or idea to collaborate on the project? Reach out to They’ve got some cool sponsorship packages and open to getting even more creative.

Follow Them:  The boys are on Instagram. Follow them @peoplewithpenelope and at #peoplewithpenelope for live updates and shenanigans.

These guys are chasing a great cause and using vintage cars as the medium to do so. We encourage you all to chip in to support since deep down, this is something I’m sure we’d all love to be doing.

Drive Tastefully, gentlemen.

Meet The Drivers

Nick Bokaie was born into a car crazy family (I can attest to this) and one of the young enthusiasts who’s always been at the wheel of a vintage car.  He’s decided to trade in his 9 to 5 in front of a computer for 10,000 miles in a small, noisy, hot, greasy classic Mini Cooper.

Roberto Rosilla has taken a brief sabbatical from pursuing his Aerospace engineering degree to take part in the Mongol Rally, hopefully his engineering skills will come in handy out in the vast deserts of Mongolia.  His other hobbies include traditional Mexican food and craft beer.


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Alexandre Goncalves
Alexandre Goncalves
7 years ago

Just the trip for the 1.5d Citroen Saxo with 380.000kms I used to have….

Bryan McQueen
Bryan McQueen
7 years ago

Check out our Driving While Awesome podcast interview with Nick a few days before he flew over to Europe, cool dude and fun to have on the show:

Rad car and rad adventure, stoked you guys are covering the progress Petrolicious.

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