Motorheads rev up for a Leadfoot stomp

MARYANNE TWENTYMAN
Last updated 05:00 16/03/2013

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The lead singer of ZZ Top, salt from the racing grounds of the Bonneville Salt Flats and hundreds of classic cars will be revving up on the Coromandel next weekend.

Former Kiwi rally driver Rod Millen will throw open the gates of his seaside Hahei property for the three-day Leadfoot Festival, featuring international cars, competitive drivers and celebrity car enthusiasts such as ZZ Top lead singer Billy Gibbons.

Gibbons is an avid hot-rod and car collector with more than 50 cars in his stable.

Next weekend he will attend the festival with his 1958 Mexican Thunderbird, according to Mercury Bay event co-ordinator Fiona Kettlewell.

"Another festival highlight will be an off-road vehicle raced by the late American off-road racing legend Mickey Thompson," she said.

In 1960, at the Bonneville Salt Flats, Thompson achieved international fame when driving Challenger 1 (Pumpkin Seed). He became the first American to break the 400mph (640kmh) barrier, hitting 406.6mph and surpassing John Cobb's one-way land speed record of 402mph.

"Pumpkin Seed arrived at the farm yesterday, which is very exciting for us petrol-heads," Ms Kettlewell said.

Professional driver Shane Van Gisbergen has also confirmed his place at the festival alongside American motoring heavyweight Ray Evernham voted the greatest crew chief of all time in 2006 and Nascar Person of the Year in 1999.

Now in its second year as a public event, the Leadfoot Festival comes with its own seasoning in the form of salt imported directly from the Bonneville Salt Flats for a racing motorbike display.

Ms Kettlewell said ticket-holders were invited to dress in period-style clothing, and they would have unlimited access to the drivers, pits and racecars.

"This year Leadfoot Festival honours 60 years of Corvette and 110 years of Harley Davidson," she said.

A collection of static celebrated vintage cars and bikes will line areas of the paddocks to complete the weekend.

Gate sales will be available at the event including $22.50 for children and $45 for adults next Friday, and $95 per ticket on Saturday and Sunday.

For more information check out leadfootfestival.com

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- Waikato Times

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