You couldn’t miss Glen Ray­mond and his dis­tinc­tive 4x4 Tom­cat at this year’s Lead­foot Fes­ti­val. Ash­ley Lu­cas chron­i­cles the event and Glen’s week­end.

NZ4WD - - Contents - Story and photos by Ash­ley Lu­cas

Rod Millen’s Lead­foot Fes­ti­val is not some­thing you would nor­mally as­so­ciate with 4WD but for the 2017 there was a 4WD ve­hi­cle com­pet­ing for the first time in the form of Glen and Samantha Ray­mond’s UK-built Tom­cat, re­cently fully cer­ti­fied for road use. The Lead­foot Fes­ti­val is Rod and Shel­ley Millen’s vi­sion of fea­tur­ing lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional motorsport leg­ends, great com­peti­tors and iconic race cars. A South Pa­cific ver­sion of Eng­land’s Good­wood Fes­ti­val of Speed it was first held on the Mil­lens’ 48 hectare prop­erty at Ha­hei in 2011 to cel­e­brate Rod’s 60th Birth­day. The ‘ track’ is the Mil­lens’ 1.6 km drive­way and to at­tend is by in­vite only and once Rod and Shelly Millen had re­ceived de­tails of the Tom­cat Racer an in­vi­ta­tion was duly re­ceived.

Broad ap­peal

New Zealan­ders in gen­eral have a pas­sion for ve­hi­cles and the Lead­foot has a broad ap­peal for most petrol­heads where old 1915 race cars can be seen along with the lat­est in road, track and rally cars. Dur­ing the week­end I met up with quite a few fel­low four wheel driv­ers, in­clud­ing tri­als and winch chal­lenge com­peti­tors from var­i­ous parts of NZ. The for­mat of the event is very sim­ple; so­cialise and have fun, with vis­i­tors en­cour­aged to wan­der around the pit area to meet the driv­ers and look over the ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing those on dis­play. Amongst the vis­it­ing in­ter­na­tional driv­ers this year were Al Unser Jr, Ernie Naga­matsu, fa­ther and son Jimmy and Alis­ter McRae, and Tanner Foust. They, in turn, were up against our own Greg Mur­phy, Al­lan Woolf, An­drew Hawkeswood, along with drift­ing’s ( Mad) Mike Whid­dett and ( Fanga) Dan Wool­house.

Good com­pany

The pit al­lo­ca­tion for the Tom­cat was next to Rod Millen’s NZ Rally cham­pi­onship win­ning 1973 Mazda RX3 mean­ing it was in very good com­pany. All 100 plus com­peti­tors were put into groups which were all a mix­ture from var­i­ous types of motorsport which meant you could have a 1930s car tackle the hill climb fol­lowed by a drifter burn­ing rub­ber all the way, fol­lowed by a mo­tor­bike. Each com­peti­tor would get three runs up the hay bale-lined track Satur­day and Sun­day. The Tom­cat was still in its off-road race set up as it came from the UK and had been used at the NZ1000 and Wood­hill 100 off-road races. There had been no spe­cial changes to the sus­pen­sion and shocks for the tar­mac event, it was still run­ning on the 16-inch BFG All Ter­rain tyres and still had the Tru­trac torque bi­as­ing rear dif­fer­en­tial. Glen was also a novice to tar­mac rac­ing as much as the Tom­cat was. The bright or­ange Tom­cat proved a very pop­u­lar ve­hi­cle, right from its ar­rival, amongst com­peti­tors and vis­i­tors alike due to its unique body

styling and front end based on a De­fender. The body is all fi­bre­glass and the TVR en­gine was on tune as it echoed around the prop­erty and through the trees while the t yres com­plained at ev­ery cor­ner. For his first run Glen put up a time of 73.07 fol­lowed by a 72.28 and was to com­ment he had never had the tail hang­ing out on a 4WD on tar­mac be­fore.

Mad Mike

Mike Whid­dett was rac­ing both his drift Mazda SP3 RX8 as well as his re­cently ac­quired short course Su­per­lite race truck which is based on a Mazda RX8 13B and in t yp­i­cal Mad Mike style, put on a real show when he took it ‘off- road’ and got some se­ri­ous air on each run. Po­laris had a pres­ence at the Lead­foot, giv­ing peo­ple rides over the back in a small pur­pose- built off- road track. Their lo­cal ‘ works’ driver, Ben Thomasen, was also there rac­ing the lat­est Po­laris Ra­zor XP1000 turbo which had ad­just­ments to sus­pen­sion and smaller road ori­en­tated t yres for the event. How­ever Ben must have though the Po­laris was a ‘ farm’ model as he set about mov­ing hay bales around the course when he went wide and got a bale be­tween the front wheels and con­tin­ued to push it up the hill. By the end of the day Alis­ter

McRae had set the fastest time so far with a 49.99 in the spe­cially pre­pared Subaru, with Rod Millen at 53.16 in his 1973 Mazda RX3 in which he be­came three-time NZ rally cham­pion be­tween 1975-1977. Once the rac­ing stops at 6.00pm ev­ery­one is en­cour­aged to so­cialise at the Lead­foot sa­loon and where food ven­dors stayed on un­til 9.00pm. It is a re­ally nice way to re­lax and en­joy a beer or wine after such a fan­tas­tic day. And yes even Rod and Shel­ley Millen min­gled and so­cialised along with the over­seas vis­i­tors, com­peti­tors and teams. Sun­day would be another hot fine day with the rac­ing un­der­way at 8.00am there was still overnight dew on the track in places which made it in­ter­est­ing for the first group. As Glen and the Tom­cat com­pleted each run up the hill, the time was al­ways an im­prove­ment as Glen got to know the track and the Tom­cat bet­ter.

Best of show

As the Tom­cat lined up with the group for the fi­nal run on Sun­day, Glen was ad­vised that they were in the Top 10 for Best In Show up against the likes of Al Unser Jr in the 1915 Stutz, Ernie Naga­matsu in Old Yeller and Fanga Dan in his ex-NZ Po­lice su­per­charged Holden Com­modore. Rod Millen man­aged to pull some­thing out on his last run to win the pre 1975 group while Alis­ter McRae couldn’t quite match his time from Satur­day, or even the record time, but was still good enough to hold off Sloan Cox for the over­all win. Lead­foot is a unique fes­ti­val and some­thing dif­fer­ent on the motorsport cal­en­dar with a wide range of dif­fer­ent ve­hi­cles from very dif­fer­ent seg­ments of motorsport and rac­ing his­tory to keep any mem­ber of the fam­ily en­ter­tained. While Glen and Samantha ini­tially en­vis­aged it be­ing a one-time ex­pe­ri­ence, if an in­vite should come their way again for 2018, they and the Tom­cat will be back again for sure.

Glen Ray­mond & Tom­cat head­ing up the Millen ‘drive­way’ at Ha­hei.

En­try is by in­vite only.

Drifter ‘Fanga Dan’ Wool­house also en­ter­tained.

Ben Thomasen ‘bal­ing’ in his Po­laris race UTV.

Eclec­tic en­try in­cluded ev­ery­thing from mod­ern race truck…

… to vin­tage and vet­eran.

Glen and Tom.

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