Whanganui motor race driver Alan Austin has set himself several goals, but only one guaranteed to be fulfilled at the annual Leadfoot Festival on the Coromandel Peninsula this weekend.

Austin has raced his highly modified 1992 Mazda Series 6 RX7 V8 for 11 years, but this will be just his second attempt at the popular Leadfoot Festival hill climb where fun is the main goal.

The Leadfoot Festival is a unique weekend on the New Zealand and international calendar that brings together an eclectic mix of classic cars, vintage motorcycles and motorsport legends. New Zealand racing legend, Rod Millen opens his private grounds at the Leadfoot Ranch to host more than 150 champion and competitive race participants every year.

Eleven-year-old Whanganui race veteran Alan Austin tackles the Leadfoot Festival hill climb on the Coromandel Peninsula for the second time this weekend in his highly modified Mazda RX7.
Eleven-year-old Whanganui race veteran Alan Austin tackles the Leadfoot Festival hill climb on the Coromandel Peninsula for the second time this weekend in his highly modified Mazda RX7.

The 150-acre ocean front farm estate on the beautiful Coromandel Peninsula features a mile-long driveway that winds through the property, specifically designed to be the perfect hill climb.

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In a unique twist, visitors are encouraged to dress in period style clothing and to step back in time. This makes Leadfoot Festival a truly-unique experience and an incredible celebration of Motorsport and all things automotive.

"We raced it for the first time last year and watched the year before," Austin recalled.

The diesel mechanic. who owns and operates Riverside Mowers and Machinery with good mate and fellow petrol head Steve Shotter, built his RX7 from scratch 11 years ago ultimately replacing the rotary engine with a piston-driven Toyota V8.

"It upset the (rotary) purists, but it (V8) makes the right sounds now. We have raced a few circuit meetings, but mostly hill climbs and Leadfoot is an amazing event. It attracts some of the best in the world. Greg Murphy and even Scott Dixon raced last year. It features some of he best drifters and international competitors in the world.

"The benchmark for most debutantes is to break a minute at Leadfoot and we did that last year clocking 57 seconds and change. I'd like to think that we can beat last year's time, but we can't seriously be too competitive with such a star studded line-up. As long as we have fun and do our best we'll be happy. The festival begins with a meet and greet on the Friday night where like-minded petrol heads gather to talk shop.

"That's fun and we are looking forward to it. We have done a few things to our car with much help from Tom Ditchfield Panel Beaters and Paul and Pat at Paintworkz."

Austin holds several hill climb records, loves the challenge of a new event. He won the 2017-2018 Duncan MacKenzie Wellington region Hill Climb series.