Rod Millen

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Rodney K. "Rod" Millen (born 22 March 1951) is a racing competitor, vehicle designer, and business owner.[1][2][3] He has competed in numerous genres of motorsports, including rally racing, off-road racing, hillclimbing, drifting, and super touring.

Personal life[edit]

Rod Millen was born in New Zealand. Millen is the father of Rhys Millen and Ryan Millen, and the brother of Steve Millen. All have raced in various types of motorsports. Both of Rod's son's, Ryan and Rhys have raced with him in the Baja 1000.[4] Early in life Millen was trained as a surveyor, but he decided to race for a living. He is married to Shelly Campbell, the Event Director for the Leadfoot Festival held each February in Hahei, New Zealand.

Racing career[edit]


Millen began racing in the New Zealand Rally Championship. He was the season champion in 1975, 1976, and 1977 driving Mazda Rx3s. Millen decided to move to the United States in 1978 to do rally races in the United States, again with a Mazda Rotary powered vehicle, the Rx7. He won the North American Race and Rally Championship in 1979.

September 1978: New Zealanders Rod Millen (far R) and mechanic Murray Butt (far L) drove their just-on-the-market Mazda RX7 from California to Ohio to discuss SCCA ProRallying with officials from the Sunriser 400 Forest Rally: clerk of course Jerry Sproat (2nd L) and press officer Tim Shannon (3rd from L) at Shannon's house in Columbus. Millen went on to win the event the next year.


He repeated as the champion of the North American Race and Rally in 1980. In 1981 he won the SCCA PRO Rally, and he won his second series championship in 1985.[5] He won back to back SCCA National Rally Championships in 1987 and 1988.

While winning his third straight SCCA National Rally Championship in 1989, he also won the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. In 1989 he raced against his brother Steve in IMSA's 24 Hours of Daytona. He won the GTU division of the race with codrivers Al Bacon and Bob Reed. He began competing in major hillclimbing events, and in 1989 he won the Class C division at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb.

Rod Millen competed in several World Rally Championship events from 1977 to 1992. He was most active from 1989 to 1992, driving a Mazda 323 AWD, codriven by Tony Sircombe. He placed second in the 1989 Rothman's Rally of New Zealand.[6][7]


In 1990 he won the Rim of the World SCCA PRO Rally event, and finished second at the Rally Malaysia and the Rally Indonesia. Millen returned to the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, winning in the Open Class in 1991 and Showroom Class in 1992. He moved to the open rally division in 1993, finishing second.

Millen began competing in the Mickey Thompson Stadium Series, an indoor stadium off-road racing series in 1991. He won two events in 1992. He won the series championship in the Grand National Sport Truck series in 1992, 1993, and 1994. In the 12-year history of the series, he was the only driver to win the series championship in three consecutive years. In his career, he had 12 victories in the series before it closed down. His success earned him a spot on the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association (AARWBA) All-American First Team in 1992 and 1994.[8]

Millen captured the record for the fastest ascent of the 156 turn, 12.42 mile (19.99 kilometer) Pikes Peak International Hill Climb. He broke the old record time by 40 seconds when he ascended the hill in 10:04:06 in 1994 in his all wheel drive Toyota Celica.[8] His record was broken on July 21, 2007 by Nobuhiro Tajima driving the Suzuki XL7 Hill Climb Special to a time of 10:01.408.[9][10] However, Tajima's record was set after the Pikes Peak surface was partially paved whereas Millen's record was on dirt. Rod had the fastest overall time at the famous mountain four more times (1996, 1997, 1998, and 1999), but was unable to beat his goal of completing the climb in less than 10 minutes. Millen and his wife became the first husband-wife team to contest the hill. He also became the father-son (with Rhys) to win overall titles on the hill.

Millen competed in the South Africa Stadium series in 1997, winning the championship. Millen returned to his native country New Zealand to compete in the first annual Race to the Sky hillclimb in 1998 near Queenstown. He finished second overall in both 1998 and 1999.


2006 Baja 1000 MillenWorks vehicle

He began competing in the Pro-4 division in the Championship Off-Road Racing Series starting with selected events in 1999. Millen's first win in his Pro4 short course truck in 2000 was at the spring Crandon race.[8] He finished second in the season points standings in 2000 after winning at Luxemburg, Wisconsin, Fort Dodge, Iowa, Bark River, Michigan, and Topeka, Kansas. He finished second at the BorgWarner World Championship Off-Road race at Crandon that year.

Millen competed in several additional genres of motorsport in 2000. He represented U.S. rally racing at the International Race of Champions at the Canary Islands. He finished third at the Baja 2000 off-road desert race in his Trophy Truck. The Baja 1000 was extended to 2000 miles that year. Millen won the SCCA Button Hollow 3 Hour enduro road race.

He raced in the Goldrush International Hillclimb in New Zealand in 2000, finishing second. Millen returned to the Race to the Sky hillclimb in 2001, and won the Unlimited Class. In 2002 he had his second consecutive win in the Unlimited Class and his first overall, he finished second in 2003 and 2004. Rod has driven an RX-8 in the Formula D drifting series.[11] He attempted to qualify for his first drifting event in 2005 but did not make the field. He competed at several events in 2006.

Millen has competed in numerous Baja 1000 off-road racing events, most recently finishing second in class in 2006. The team, with his son Ryan Millen as one of the drivers, finished the 34-hour trek through the desert 33 seconds behind the winner in what is considered a photo finish.[12]

Millen won the Transsyberia rally 2007. With co-driver Richard Kelsey, they competed the 7,100 kilometers from Moscow, Russia to Ulan Bator, Mongolia the fastest of the 26 teams, driving one of 26 Porsche Cayenne S Transsyberia rally cars.[13]


Millen started Rod Millen Motorsports, later renamed MillenWorks, which began by preparing and later building Millen's race cars. The company now develops vehicles, high performance parts, and technology for racing, concept cars, and the military.

Motorsports career results[edit]

North American Touring Car Championship[edit]



External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Kenjiro Shinozuka
Asia-Pacific Rally Champion
Succeeded by
Carlos Sainz