Leadfoot Festival 2016
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.