From Boone, NC, take Hwy 105 South. At the light just after crossing the Watauga River, take Right on Broadstone, towards Valle Crucis. Take Left on Hwy 194 towards Banner Elk. Stay on Hwy 194 to Hwy 19E, take Left to Newland, NC. From Newland, take Hwy 181 towards Linville, it runs into Hwy 221 just before Linville, continue on Hwy 221 to Blue Ridge Parkway or continue on Hwy 221, (near Julian Price Park exit off BRP to right, then next right before getting on Hwy 221) exit onto Shulls Mill Rd. If you take Hwy 221 instead of BRP, take left toward BRP then left onto Shulls Mill Rd, just before BRP. Follow Shulls Mill Rd (NC 1557) to Hwy 105, take right towards Boone. You will complete the loop when you cross the Watauga River. Best parts of this drive is Shulls Mill Road, and Hwy 194 through Banner Elk. BRP will be a little more scenic than Hwy 221 from Grandfather Mtn, BRP is usually slower and more serene. It may not measure up to the Dragon, since you don't have limited access on the route; but I think you will like some of the switch backs.
I have not driven the Mini on this route yet, but I "experienced" it in a friends Porsche Turbo; some very good hang on parts for a passenger and takes about an hour depending on how many Orange license tags you see. For those of us who live in this part of the NC mountains (we drive twisties everyday), our wonderful temporary summer residents from Florida (Orange tags) can impede your progress. They usually head back south in October. Mid October will be the most scenic time to take the drive and the most crowded with everyone coming to the mountains to look at the Autumn leaves.