International stars confirmed for 2016 Leadfoot Festival

Motorsport legend Rod Millen announced that American actor and race car driver Patrick Dempsey and Scottish rally star Alister McRae will attend the 2016 Leadfoot Festival, at the event’s official 2016 launch in Auckland last night.

Best known for his role as Dr Derek Shepherd on television series Grey’s Anatomy, Dempsey owns Dempsey Racing and has competed in prestigious pro-am events such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Rolex 24 at Daytona sports car race, and Tecate SCORE Baja 1000. Dempsey Racing is presently racing two Porsche 911 GT America’s in the Tudor United Sports Car Series.

“Coming off a podium finish at the 2015 24 hours of Le Mans, we are delighted to have Patrick as our guest at the 2016 Leadfoot Festival” says Mr Millen.

“Having recently left his role on Greys Anatomy, Patrick, a passionate race driver, now has time to focus more on his motor racing career and is able to attend our event.”

Subaru of New Zealand, has a partnership with Leadfoot Festival and has been proudly supporting the unique Hahei-based event since 2013. Managing Director Wallis Dumper says the company is thrilled that Australian-based McRae will return to New Zealand to drive the same ex-Possum Bourne Subaru WRX that he drove to victory in April’s Race to the Sky in the Cardrona Valley.

“Not only is Alister a former British Rally Champion and factory WRC driver, he will be driving the Vantage Motorsport-owned Subaru, which holds a special place in many rally fans’ hearts after Possum won the 2001 Race to the Sky in it.”

Mr Dumper says having both McRae and Dempsey drive in the February event is a real coup for the Leadfoot team, as their international profiles will be a huge draw-card to the already popular, annual motorsport weekend.

“For rally followers, the chance to see Alister compete in the mighty Vantage Subaru is just gold now that the 2016 Race to the Sky is not going ahead – and for those people who aren’t petrol heads, at least they get to see McDreamy in the flesh,” he says.

Fittingly, Subaru’s WRXs were the official pace cars this year and will continue the tradition again next year. There will also be a display of the latest Subaru models and an area under the Subaru tent providing shady respite during the heat of the day.

Mr Dumper sees Subaru of New Zealand’s involvement with the Leadfoot Festival as the ideal partnership.

“Subaru has a long history of performance credentials both in rallying and on race tracks, so showcasing the WRX on Rod and Shelly’s mile long driveway, winding through their property, is a great way to display our brand. Given Subaru’s performance heritage, Leadfoot is not only a great Kiwi event for motorsport enthusiasts, but it’s also a wonderful family weekend given its picturesque location in Hahei, on the Coromandel Peninsula,” Mr Dumper says.

New Zealand Rally Championship-leading driver Ben Hunt, of Auckland, will also be attending the Leadfoot Festival, as one of the invited guests to participate in the hillclimb, piloting his All Wheel Drive Subaru.

The Leadfoot Festival on February 6 – 7 offers a motorsport weekend, bringing together a mix of classic cars, vintage motorcycles and motorsport legends to the Millen’s private grounds at Leadfoot Ranch. The 150 acre, ocean-front estate on the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula features a driveway designed to be the perfect hill climb.

Mr Millen has personally hand selected championship racers from around the world to receive the coveted invitation to participate in the Leadfoot Festival. The weekend also offers a collection of static celebrated vintage cars and motorbikes to line areas of the paddocks – making it like no other motorsport festival in New Zealand.”

Event Director of the Leadfoot Festival Shelly Campbell says the two-day event is “designed for men and women, boys and girls.”

“Visitors are invited to dress in period style clothing, stepping back in time making the Leadfoot Festival an incredible family experience and a true celebration of motorsports and all things automotive. Guests will be given one of a kind experiences, featuring unparalleled access to the drivers, pits and race cars,” she says.

The 2016 Leadfoot Festival scheduled for Waitangi Weekend February 6 – 7 will continue to offer evening activities, including a concert featuring The Warratahs on Saturday night complete with a food, wine and beer garden.

For more information on this exciting motorsport event and to buy tickets go to
Tickets on sale now.
• Two-day pass $85 includes two full days of the Leadfoot Festival, The Warratahs Saturday night concert and the Shoot Out
• Saturday only $50 which includes the Saturday night concert
• Sunday only $40 includes the Shoot Out

Benjamin Carrell is a freelance motorsport writer and currently edits He writes for a number of Kiwi drivers and motorsport clubs. That's when he's not working in his horticultural day-job or training for the next road or mtb cycle race!

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