The 2016 Leadfoot Festival is on this weekend at the Leadfoot Ranch in Hahei in the Coromandel. Set in the 150-acre ocean front estate of Rod and Shelly Millen’s property, spectators will get to see a wide range of unique competition cars, motorcycles and drivers. The key feature of the event is the long winding driveway through the property which will be used for a hill climbing.
While there will be many stand out vehicles both on display and racing, one of the key competition cars will be a 1906 Darracq built for the first Grand Prix held at the Le Mans circuit in France. Featuring a 14.25 litre four-cylinder engine the car will be driven by Kiwi IndyCar champion Scott Dixon.
Of the three Darracqs that competed in the 1906 Grand Prix (all withdrew with valve problems) this particular car headed to the USA before eventually returning to England.
How the Darracq first got to New Zealand is not entirely known. A former owner of the engine was Bill Clark, when it was on the premises of the Hampton Tyre company in Christchurch in the late 1950s, before which the Star newspaper reportedly used it to drive a standby generator.
In 1960 the engine was acquired by Bob Beardsley who set about the task returning it to its original form on a rolling chassis. The vehicle was purchased in 2003 and underwent a complete restoration by Wallace McNair.