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Flashback to Leadfoot Festival

22 March, 2015

Set in the idyllic countryside of Hahei is Rod Millen’s farm — the aptly named Leadfoot Ranch. Every two years, Rod opens it up for the Leadfoot Festival. This is the North Island’s version of Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and action takes place up the ranch’s 1.6km tarmac driveway, starting from the gate, where it is relatively flat farmland, making its winding way up into the pine trees through a series of tight hairpins.

Several different classes of cars were invited to attend by Rod Millen — including rallying, open-wheelers, 4x4s, sports cars, karts, motorcycles, and what appeared to be a crowd-favourite; drift cars. In attendance were drivers such as Richard Mason, ‘Mad Mike’ Whiddett (a renowned drifter), Anne Thomson in her 1906 Darracq, and, of course, Rod Millen himself. Rod, in fact, raced three of his cars over the weekend — a Mazda RX-3, the Toyota Celica, which he raced at Pikes Peak, and the Toyota Tundra, which his MillenWorks Racing was contracted to build for the Championship Off-Road Racing series.

The Leadfoot Festival is held over three days, with the Friday being a non-competitive day, allowing the entrants to set up their cars and familiarize themselves with the course. This day of full-on practice made for a hairy moment for many, and lots of hay-bale destruction.

We’ve put together a gallery of images, shot by Steve Ritchie Photography, to take us back to the latest Leadfoot Festival held over February 6–8, 2015. Check it out below:

Penny’s Pagoda – Mercedes Benz 230 SL

We scouted out a few different locations for photographing this car, but they all had one thing in common. At every stop, people could not help but come up and compliment owner Penny Webster on her stunning Horizon Blue Mercedes 230 SL.
There’s something about the ‘Pagoda’ Mercedes — so-called because the distinctive dipping curve of its roofline echoes that of the famous Eastern tiered temples — that encourages people to speak up.
Many classic cars attract a second look, but in most cases people keep their thoughts to themselves. It was striking how many people felt the need to express the warmth of their feelings about this car.
The expansive glass cockpit, the friendly, subtle lines, and its simple three-box shape seem to encourage openness among passers-by.

Motorsport Flashback – Kiwi rallying in the 1970s

Rallying arrived in New Zealand in 1973 like a tsunami. It had been only a few years since the sport was introduced here and shortly afterwards Heatway came on board as the sponsor to take rallying to a new level. The 1973 Heatway would be the longest and biggest yet, running in both islands with 120 drivers over eight days and covering some 5400 kilometres. The winner was 31-year-old Hannu Mikkola — a genuine Flying Finn who had been rallying since 1963 before putting any thoughts of a career on hold until he completed an economics degree. The likeable Finn became an instant hero to many attracted to this new motor sport thing. I was one of them.