THE LEADFOOT FESTIVAL has to be a genuine bucket lister for petrolheads. Think of it as the Goodwood of the South, a race up one man’s driveway and a garden party that’s packed with mouthwatering metal. The man in question is Rod Millen, Kiwi rallying legend and still the fastest man up the gravel Pikes Peak course. His Leadfoot Ranch is on the east coast of the Coromandel Peninsula in New Zealand’s north island and it knocks the Festival of Speed’s track for six.
“I wanted to incorporate elements of the Pikes Peak climb into the track,” explains Millen. “Some friends of mine told me that there was a much more direct way to build the driveway, but I sent it straight over the steepest part of my land with a bunch of switchbacks,” he twinkles.
Millen’s still a fiendish pedaller, even at 68 years old. Piloting the 1994 Toyota Celica Pikes Peak special, he looked odds-on to contest the win with Alister McRae, whose ex-Possum Bourne Impreza has been the class of the field for the past two years.
That was until a missed gearchange dropped Millen from the podium places, the 1.6km course biting back and seeing McRae claim his third win on the bounce with a course record 47.99s. This was followed by Rotorua’s Sloan Cox in his Mitsubishi Evo VIII and Pikes Peak hero Paul Dallenbach rounded out the podium in his claiming third in his crazily bewinged 2000 Wells Coyote PD01 open wheeler.
Unlike Goodwood’s Festival of Speed track, the course has been designed by a sharp motorsport brain. We take to the track to point out some of its highlights as the event wraps up for this year. Ask any British motoring journalist how they feel about Goodwood and they’ll tell you that as good as it is today, it was better and more informal 20 years ago. Going to Leadfoot is like taking a ride in Doc Brown’s Delorean back to when you could easily chat to the drivers, pore over their race cars and get close to the action. Click through the gallery up top to see more and look for the full feature in Wheels magazine.