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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:

Fear and loathing the blue oval – part one

The slogan went something like ‘There’s a Ford in your future’. ‘Bugger off!’ were always the words that sprung to my mind. Ford and I have never really got on in the manner of many of my friends, so I’d say my relationship to the brand was distant. The accelerating blur of passing time has helpfully blanketed memories of a few Ford encounters which I probably wanted to forget but I have to admit, now I look at them, they are re-appearing through the mists of time. What comes to mind more readily, to quote some uncharitable wit, is that the letters Ford could stand for ‘fix or repair daily’. Still, I have to ’fess up, there were several Fords in my past.

Class struggle

For a British car, it is huge; for those sitting inside, the bonnet seems to extend past the horizon. The front seats are very comfortable rather than body hugging. The dashboard and centre console cluster are beautifully laid out, reminiscent of a fighter plane cockpit, with acres of red leather all around. Its V8 burble is on show. It is not a car to sneak about in, and it gets attention wherever it goes.
The large back window, possibly the best-known feature of the Interceptor and one that sets it apart, has very good functionality, allowing greater access to the boot. It would not be an easy job to replace it, so Interceptor owners are careful about reversing and not hitting anything.