Born in Edendale in 1899, Burt Munro’s dedication to motorcycles was enormous, and his life’s achievements are legendary. He purchased his first motorcycle at the age of 15 and had his first Indian Scout in 1920 - the bike he would continue to modify (with his own custom made unique parts) for the rest of his life.
After setting a number of New Zealand land speed records in the 1940s and 1950s his next goal was to compete at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, United States. His first trip to Bonneville as a competitor was in 1962 (Burt was 63) and there he set a land speed record of 178.97mph. He travelled there a further 8 times to compete and set two more world records. His 1967 record of 183.58mph still stands today, and on this trip he also managed to hit 190.07mph during a qualifying run which is the fastest ever recorded speed on an Indian motorcycle. Burt Munro was an extraordinary character that represents real and positive kiwi attributes such as ingenuity, dogged determination, and a laid back and humorous demeanour
Following the success of the 2005 movie about Burt Munro’s inspirational life - “The World’s Fastest Indian”, the Southland Motorcycle Club created the Burt Munro Challenge to honour Burt, his ingenuity, determination, and love of speed and motorcycles.
The inaugural event was first held in 2006, and has since forged a name for itself as one of New Zealand’s major motorsport events.
A bit about the event...Starting with the Bluff Hill Climb, tensions are high. The smell of the exhaust, the scream of the engines, the heat of the machines as they rush past. Spectators cheer riders on as they wrench and weave their way to the summit. Most make it.
Later on that day, marvel at the sight of twilight drag racers streaking down the Teretonga Park straight at speeds in excess of 250kph.
Stepping on to Oreti Beach’s long emptiness, where Burt once opened the throttle, is a raw and awe inspiring experience. There’s something otherwordly watching dirt bikes tear up and down the mile-long circuit from your sand-dune grandstand possie, as oystercatchers split open tuatua shells on the low-tide mark. Unique? You betcha.
Teretonga Park has hosted Superbike, V8 and Formula 1 legends, and now it’s your turn in the Sprint Races. There’s few experiences that come near the G-Force thrill of a lap or two of the world’s southernmost FIA-approved motor racing circuit.
Those participating in the traditional Saturday night Speedway Spectacular might argue that point as their brakeless bikes slide around in the dirt – delighting the huge crowds surrounding the circuit.
On the final day, crowds throng to the Sunday street races, which showcase all manner of bikes from highly-tuned, modern racing machines to lovingly-restored vintage gems.
And for some, its the Rally which is the highlight of their trip south. With live music Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, the Burt Munro Challenge is as much about people as it is about bikes!
You’ll never feel closer to a legend. The Burt Munro Challenge is calling you.
The Munro family has generously donated a spectacular trophy which is given to the “Competitor of the Year” at each annual Challenge. The Munro family presents the trophy in honour of Burt to the winner each year. They attend each individual event, and look for competitors who exhibit similar traits to Burt.
Things they look for:
For Past Winners please click here