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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:

Taipan – surpassing interest

“It’s merely a passing interest,” insists Selby — despite owning three variants of the classic VW Beetle, including an unusual VW van that was sold as a body kit for a Subaru. In his defence he points to a 1961 Ford Thunderbird, a car that he converted to right-hand drive. However, on the VW side of the ledger, since he opened Allison Autos in Whanganui 27 years ago, Selby has built 15 VW-powered Formula First cars, followed by a beach buggy, restored a derelict Karmann Ghia, and hot-rodded a common or garden Beetle into something that has to be seen to be believed. As speed is not something generally associated with classic VWs, though, Selby is still waiting for this particular modification to catch on amongst the hot rod faithful.

Travelling companion

It’s easy to see why the Morris Minor Traveller was one of the best-loved variants of the Morris Minor. Introduced in 1953, it was equipped with the same independent torsion bar front suspension, drum brakes, and rack and pinion steering as its saloon sibling but, with their foldable rear seat increasing versatility, many Travellers were used as trade vehicles, says Derek Goddard. Derek and Gail Goddard, the owners of this superbly restored example, have run Morris Minors since before they were married in 1974.
“Our honeymoon vehicle was a blue Morris Minor van — it was a rust bucket,” says Derek.