The public and judges have chosen New Zealand’s best 25 Subaru WRXs and the winners are bound for the 2017 Leadfoot Festival. Subaru of New Zealand is celebrating 25 years of the WRX in 2017 and wanted to find the best WRXs in the country to celebrate this iconic performance model’s anniversary. Interest in the competition was overwhelming, with more than 12,000 votes and 268 entries. Turns out that people love showing off their WRXs – and for good reason!

The 25 winners received tickets to attend the Leadfoot Festival held over Waitangi Weekend, February 4 and 5, 2017, and will enjoy Subaru hospitality at the Coromandel event, as well as having their WRX on display in a Subaru WRX tent in a prime position at the festival.

Five lucky owners will also be chosen on the day to drive their WRX up the incredible 1.6km driveway, owned and built by motorsport legend Rod Millen, on his oceanfront ranch in Hahei.

Subaru of New Zealand Managing Director Wallis Dumper – who together with Leadfoot Festival founder Mr Millen and Subaru Brand Ambassador (and WRX driver) Ben Hunt formed the judging panel – says it was incredible to see the variety of WRXs entered in the competition.

“Looking through all the entries was like a trip down memory lane of the entire 25-year history of our best bang-for- buck performance car. We had everything from a 1995 WRX WRC car, rare 22B limited edition models, through to a spec’d-up Time Attack STi and also some later model WRXs.

“As a brand, Subaru loves the passion we can inspire in Kiwi drivers and that was certainly evident in the huge pride the entrants in this competition showed when it came to their WRXs.

“We look forward to seeing them all lined up at the Leadfoot Festival and encourage all those coming along to this fantastic February event to make sure you admire them on display,” Mr Dumper says.

Among them will be one of the competition winners, Simon Rowe, of Auckland, who owns a2013 Subaru Impreza WRX Crouching Tiger limited edition, which is number eight of only ten bought into New Zealand. He wasn’t after a blue, red or white WRX.


“The orange just appealed to me. I liked the colour scheme,” he says. Mr Rowe has owned it for four years and although it is his daily driver, he says, with a laugh, that his wife is not allowed to drive it and it is banned from doing the supermarket run. He has never been to the Leadfoot Festival before and is looking forward to going next year. Wellington-based Grahame Hill was doubly thrilled to receive the news that his 2006 Subaru

Impreza WRX STi Spec C Type RA-R was one of the country’s best 25 WRXs.


Not only has he always wanted to attend the Leadfoot Festival but Saturday, February 4 is his birthday and he will be able to celebrate it by showcasing his WRX in the competition-winners display area. This high performance model comes with a potent set of specifications and was only sold in Japan, in a batch of 300 – 125 were white, 125 were blue and 50 were yellow.

Chris Watt was encouraged by his local Subaru dealership in Tauranga, Famer Auto Village, to enter the best 25 WRXs competition because the staff there knew his 1995 Subaru WRX RA is his “little pride and joy,” he says.


“For me, [purchasing this WRX] really it was a mid-life crisis. It took me back to my youth when they first came out. I used to ogle them in Wingers but couldn’t afford one,” Mr Watt says.

He describes himself as “an absolute motorsport nut,” so he will “absolutely” be heading to the Leadfoot Festival. Subaru of New Zealand has a partnership with the Leadfoot Festival and has been proudly supporting the unique event since 2013. The venue was also used to launch the new generation WRX in 2014. The 150-acre estate features a spectator-friendly driveway, which was designed to be the perfect hill climb.

Keeping all of the 130 racers in check, once again, will be the Subaru WRX pace cars. Subaru also displays their latest line up of vehicles under the Subaru tent, where festival goers can shelter from the weather in either rain or shine. The Subaru team will be providing giveaways to lucky draw Subaru owners, and visitors can grab a seat in a prime position on the Subaru beanbags to watch the action unfold – simply show your Subaru keys and you’re in.

This 2017 Leadfoot Festival is undeniably special for Subaru in terms of its 25 th anniversary of WRX and the marque is excited that a historically significant Subaru WRX will be returning next year.

The famous ex-Possum Bourne World Rally Championship WRX STi, will once again be driven by Scottish-born rally legend Alister McRae. After coming tantalisingly close to snatching victory from the Millen clan last year in this 1998 Vantage Motorsport Subaru, during his debut at the event, Mr McRae ended up second to first-time Leadfoot Festival winner Rhys Millen. This year, armed with prior knowledge of the Hahei hill climb’s twists and turns, Mr McRae will be hunting down a win and a record-breaking run to help commemorate the 25 years of WRX in New Zealand.

Our country produces its fair share of talented drivers, and many of them will be driving some spectacular, high-horsepower Subarus at the Leadfoot Festival. Stay tuned for the national competitor announcements, which will be made soon by the event organisers. In the meantime, the international driver entry list is looking impressive with some motorsport icons joining the record high number of 130 competitors at the Waitangi weekend event.

They include two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Al Unser Junior, who has a whole list of titles to his name, including the Can-Am Championship (1982), IROC-International Race of Champions (1986 and 1988) and the CART Indy Car World Series (1990 and 1994).

Also from the United States, professional super-star driver Tanner Foust is returning to the Leadfoot Festival, following his popular appearance there last year. The runner-up in this year’s Global Rallycross Championship, he is the ultimate in competitive dexterity and has won four X Games gold medals and two Formula Drift championships. Over in the open-wheeler camp and also looking to break the event’s record time, is the ferociously-fast Pikes Peak International Hill Climb-winning 2006 Dallenbach Special. Driven by its owner and namesake American racer Paul Dallenbach, who is an eight-time Pikes Peak victor, the car weighs only 840kgs but its small block Chevy V8 pumps out a whopping 900hp.

Pikes Peak is in David Donner’s hometown of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and he is a six- time winner of this ‘Race to the Clouds’ event. Three of those wins were in the car he is bringing to the Leadfoot Festival, his 2005 Donner/Dykstra Pikes Peak Special.

Click here to see the 25 winning WRXs or better yet buy tickets to the event and see them in person on February 4 and 5.

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Fred Alvrez
How on earth to start this? I've been car/bike/truck crazy since I was a teen. Like John, I had the obligatory Countach poster on the wall. I guess I'm more officially into classic and muscle cars than anything else - I currently have a '65 Sunbeam Tiger that left the factory the same day as I left the hospital as a newborn with my mother. How could I not buy that car? In 2016 my wife and I drove across the USA in a brand-new Dodge Challenger, and then shipped it home. You can read more on We did this again in 2019 in a 1990 Chev Corvette - you can read about that trip on DriveLife. I'm a driving instructor and an Observer for the Institute of Advanced Motorists - trying to do my bit to make our roads safer.


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