Lead­foot Fes­ti­val 2016

New Zealand Classic Car - - Nationwide News - Words and pho­tos: Steve Ritchie

Ha­hei will once again ring to the sound of rac­ing en­gines as they re­ver­ber­ate through­out the val­ley — yes, Rod Millen will host the 2016 Lead­foot Fes­ti­val over Wai­tangi week­end, Fe­bru­ary 6. What was pre­vi­ously a biyearly event has now turned into an an­nual one, as more and more peo­ple gather on the green hills of Millen’s sea­side prop­erty to wit­ness mo­tor rac­ing at its finest.

Millen’s 1.6km drive­way starts off weav­ing across farm­land, be­fore head­ing into the hills through a se­ries of tight hair­pins amid the for­est. As al­ways, the event will fea­ture a wide range of rac­ing ma­chin­ery from sev­eral eras and classes, in­clud­ing open-wheel­ers, rally cars, tour­ing cars, drift cars, mo­tor­cy­cles, and karts, to name just a few. Among the bet­ter-known cars to watch out for in 2016 will be the Peu­geot 405 driven by Enda Gar­vey — the car that won Pikes Peak in 1988 at the hands of Ari Vata­nen.

At the re­cent me­dia launch for the event, Rod Millen was on hand to an­nounce that those at­tend­ing the 2016 Lead­foot Fes­ti­val will in­clude Pa­trick Dempsey, aka Dr Shep­herd from pop­u­lar TV se­ries Grey’s Anatomy, a long-time friend of Rod’s who com­peted at Le Mans ear­lier this year at the wheel of a Porsche. Rod and Pa­trick met around 10 years ago when train­ing for a Baja off-road race. As a per­sonal aside, af­ter learn­ing of this ma­jor an­nounce­ment, my wife — a big fan of Grey’s Anatomy — will most likely like to come along with me for the 2016 Lead­foot Fes­ti­val.

Other driv­ers at­tend­ing will be Alis­ter Mcrae — the late Colin Mcrae’s brother — who will take over from where their father, Jimmy Mcrae, left off last year. He will drive the Van­tage Pos­sum Bourne Subaru, while Rod’s son, Rhys Millen, will com­pete in his Global Ral­ly­cross car. As Rod pointed out, “an ex­tra set of sticky tyres might be re­quired” to make sure his lad doesn’t beat him to claim the over­all win­ner’s ti­tle. Win­ner of the Pre ’75 Shootout last year, Paul Mccarthy, will once again be driv­ing his stun­ning Zak­speed Es­cort replica.

Rac­ing aside, and new for next year, spectators will be able to in­dulge in what fes­ti­val or­ga­niz­ers have dubbed ‘glamping’, the name given to camp­ing in style. Those who wish to can camp out and rent a lux­ury — glam­orous — tent for the Satur­day night. Th­ese tents come with car­pet, bed­ding, chan­de­lier, and the tents will even come with a concierge ser­vice to call upon. How­ever, be­fore set­tling in for the night, ‘glam­pers’ will be treated to a con­cert from lo­cal band The War­ratahs.

As usual, there will be car dis­plays, food stalls, demon­stra­tions, and ‘pit walks’. Typ­i­cally at Lead­foot, spectators can get close to the ac­tion at mul­ti­ple van­tage points and min­gle with the driv­ers in the pits.

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