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Rod Millen

Rod Millen


Year Started: 1975

Rod Millen was born March 22, 1952, in New Zealand. As a young man he loved surfing, sailing and driving beach buggies. Eventually the driving part won out and the boats and surfboards were replaced by wider tires and stiffer suspension. Rod started competing in rally events in the early 1970s and starting in 1975 he won the New Zealand rally championship for three consecutive years.

In 1978 Millen moved to America and based his rally team out of Southern California running a Datsun 510. Starting in 1979 Millen started racing a Mazda RX-7 starting a relationship with the manufacturer that lasted over ten years and produced five SCCA ProRally Championships (1981, 1985, 1987, 1988, and 1989) and two North American Race & Rally Championships (1979 & 1980).

Image of Rod Millen racing in 1985 by John Elkin

By 1982 with the four-wheel-drive revolution firmly in place Millen had to find a way to keep up with the Audi Quattro of John Buffum. Millen designed a four -wheel drive system for his RX-7. With that configuration he notched one championship and many wins.

Millen continued to rally the 323GTX when it debuted in 1987 collecting the coveted 1989 FIA Asia/Pacific Championship. 

Other Notable Results:

  • Six Pikes Peak Hillclimbs wins included overall fastest time ever record on dirt.
  • 1989 IMSA 24 Hours of Daytona 1st place GTU Class
  • 1992 - 1994 Mickey Thompson Entertainment Group Grand National Sport Truck Champion (only three time successive winner)
  • 1997 South Africa Stadium Off-Road Racing Champion
  • 2000 - Five CORR Wins in Pro4
  • 2001 & 2002 1st Overall Race to the Sky Hillclimb (New Zealand)
  • 2002 Overall fastest time on rally course at Goodwood
  • 2003 & 2005 1st Place Baja Challenge Class @ Baja 1000
  • 2006 2nd place Stock Mini @ Baja 1000
  • 2007 - 1st place Transsyberia Rally

Rod Millen is the current organizer of the Leadfoot Festival in New Zealand.

“It’s the challenge and adventure that drives us.” – Rod Millen

Submitted by: John Elkin
Created: April 22, 2024