A scorcher in the Hahei hills
Bumper crowds packed onto the hillside of Rod and Shelly Millen’s beautiful Hahei estate over Waitangi weekend for the largest Leadfoot Festival to date. The somewhat eclectic mix of machinery strutting its stuff up the hill ranged from the beautifully restored ex–ann Thompson 1906 Darracq piloted by four-time Indycar champion Scott Dixon through to modern-day machinery imported especially for the event, including the Global Rallycross Hyundai of Rod’s son Rhys. Early on Saturday, the wet weather made for tricky conditions as many had their first experience running up the drive. Targa veteran Leigh Hopper found out the hard way that this is no ordinary driveway when he pushed his Evo III Lancer beyond its limits and squared off with a tree through the faster section one. Thankfully, both driver and machine would battle on. This was the only real mishap on the Saturday, and Sunday proved a stunner weather-wise, which meant drivers could push and the times could tumble.
In the Pre 1960 class, it was the Tiger Moth–powered 1931 Riley 9 Special of Robert Mcnair that earned top honours in the Pre 1960 top-10 shoot-out with a time of 1min 4.1s. Mcnair narrowly beat the V8-powered Citroën Light 15 of Peter Jordan, by only a few splits. Third place went to Steve Aldersley, with his supercharged Austin 7 Special.
The hotly contested Pre ’75 class went down to the wire, thanks to a handful of very fast machines. Rod Millen’s own 13B PP RX-3 rally car was pushed hard to third place in the shoot-out, narrowly being beaten by Paul Mccarthy in his ex-cover-car Ford Escort. Rick Bone managed to just sneak in with the win following a faultless drive to a 54.18s in his Datsun 1200 circuit car.
The biggest showdown of the weekend was between the overall top 10, featuring two Millens and a Mcrae, after Alister Mcrae managed to match Rod Millen’s own personal best early on Sunday, setting the up the first coin toss to decide running order. The Scotsman lost the toss and was forced to run ahead of Millen. However, it was the younger Millen, Rhys, in his 485kw Global Rallycross Hyundai, who set the pace, running slightly quicker than Alister with a 49.31s. Rod Millen lined up in the Celica for the last run of the day, hoping to better his son, but it wasn’t to be after a miss shift in sector one cost him a few seconds and knocked the Celica into fourth overall. Rhys was in first, Mcrae second, and young rising star Sloan Cox was third.