Exclusive: Formula 1 legend Mark Webber confirmed for Leadfoot Festival
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Formula One great Mark Webber and New Zealand Porsche factory driver, Earl Bamber, will be attending next year’s Leadfoot festival on February 8-9 in the Coromandel.
The annual Leadfoot Festival was established in 2011 by Kiwi motorsport great Rod Millen and his American wife Shelly Campbell Millen with drivers invited to race up the famous driveway at their Hahei farm, aka the Leadfoot ranch.
In the past eight years have seen such famous names as Kiwi Scott Dixon, Rod Millen’s son Rhys, Tanner Foust and Alister McRae compete alongside up-and-coming motorsport drivers and competitors in an assortment of vehicles.
The competitors take on the 1.6km (1mile) drive at the start of the Millens’ property, winding up through a pine forest to the finish.
Porsche New Zealand has just announced that the brand’s two international ambassadors, Webber and Bamber, will attend the 2020 Leadfoot festival.
Bamber will be at the event on Saturday February 8, while Webber will be attending the festival on the Sunday. Both are guests of Porsche NZ and although will not be competing, will be sprinting up the famous drive in Porsche vehicles.
Millen and Campbell Millen were excited at the calibre of talent of the two Porsche ambassadors attending Leadfoot.
“That these type of well-known motorsport personalities have decided to spend time at Leadfoot festival and enjoy all the festivities that we have to offer its fantastic,” Millen told Driven exclusively.
Australian Webber is a nine-time Formula One Grand Prix winner, with 42 podiums driving for Minardi, Jaguar, Williams, and Red Bull. At the end of 2013, Webber retired from F1, and returned to the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2014 with Porsche.
Alongside Kiwi Brendan Hartley and Timo Bernhard, the team went on to amass 14 podiums (eight of which were victories), led Porsche to claim the World Manufacturers Title twice, and became the World Drivers’ Champions in 2015.
Webber is now a Porsche AG ambassador, having traded in the steering wheel for a microphone as he focuses his time on TV presenting, keynote speaker, a qualified helicopter pilot, and extreme mountain bike racer.
Earl Bamber, right, pictured with fellow Kiwi Brendon Hartley. Photo / Getty Images
Bamber is not only New Zealand born and bred, but also one of the successful names in global motorsport at the moment. Bamber began his career in go karts with his first major win at age 12, building up to be a two time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner in 2015 and 2017 driving for Porsche.
Bamber is currently a factory driver for Porsche Motorsport, with recent wins including the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship in the GTLM class.
Bamber has created his own motorsport company that is located in Malaysia that provides expert instruction and training for drivers in Asian, and supports the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia
Millen first envisioned it whilst competing in 2002 at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Swedish champion Stefan Johansson was recently confirmed attending Leadfoot. For over three decades Johansson has been one of the top drivers in the world of international motorsports. He has been successful in Formula One, IndyCar and Le Mans style sports car racing, winning both the 12 hours of Sebring twice (Porsche, Ferrari) and the 24 Hours of Le Mans (Porsche).
“Stefan is well-known around the world, and has been Scott Dixon’s manager for many years, so he’s got the Kiwi connection,” said Millen.
“Shelly and I have met him many times over the years and he’s thrilled to be coming down to New Zealand and competing in the Leadfoot Festival.”
Ivan “Ironman” Stewart, the American off-road racing driver, and NASCAR crew chief Ray Evernham, will be competing in his famous car, The Ghost. It is a custom-built race car designed to look like a modified that would have been raced in the 1960s but features state-of-the-art mechanics and electronics.
This year, McRae won for the third year in the row in his ex-WRC 1998 Subaru Impreza, with a 47.99 second run, the fastest time in the event’s history. He will be defending this title next year.