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On Display Under a New Owner at Quail Lodge 2018 and a New Version Raced at Speed Week once more.

By Bandit, Graeme Lowen and Indian with photos from the Bob T. Collection and Markus Cuff

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The World’s Fastest Indian just changed hands again for slightly over a million bucks. Steve Huntzinger freshened up the historic scout as it moved from one collection to another. “It’s been touched by lots of folks,” Steve said of the originality.

What the hell, this bike contains tons of history and stories from the builder, Burt Munro, Bonneville, New Zealand and even a South Island hardware store. Burt Munro didn’t ever have a million bucks to toss around. He did it the old school way, but now his grandnephew and the new Indian Motorcycle crew from Polaris are back on the Salt.

In 1962, Burt set an 883 cc class record of 288 km/h (178.95 mph) with his engine bored out to 850 cc.

In 1966, he set a 1000 cc class record of 270.476 km/h (168.07 mph) with his engine punched out to 920 cc.

At one time he hung out a Micah McCloskey’s house in the San Fernando Valley on his way to Bonneville. Just after arriving he sprawled out on Micah’s front lawn, almost naked to acclimate to the northern hemisphere. The neighbors called the cops.

“I don’t get it,” Burt said to the cops, while just wearing his boxer shorts. “This is supposed to be the land of the brave and free. I’m just adjusting from the down-under atmosphere.”

In 1967, his engine was bored out to 950 cc and he set an under 1000 cc class record of 295.453 km/h (183.59 mph). To qualify he made a one-way run of 305.89 km/h (190.07 mph), the fastest-ever officially recorded speed on an Indian. The unofficial speed record (officially timed) is 331 km/h (205.67 mph) for a flying mile.

In 2006, he was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

In 2014, 36 years after his death, he was retroactively awarded a 1967 record of 296.2593 km/h (184.087 mph) after his son John noticed a calculation error by AMA at that time.

The following Half Moon Bay shots were taken by Markus Cuff.
The following Half Moon Bay shots were taken by Markus Cuff.

Here’s a report from Graeme Lowen, who is an avid touring rider on the South Island, not far from Burt’s home:

Burt Munro was a local legend in Invercargill for the work he put into developing his 1929 Indian Scout to become the “World’s Fastest Indian” in the 1960s. He travelled to the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah, several times to obtain his record and in doing so became legendary among the riders at the time. Burt died in 1978 and sort of faded into history until a fellow Kiwi, Roger Donaldson, did a documentary about Burt while he was still alive. It was some 30 years later that the movie ‘The World’s Fastest Indian” hit the screens.

The annual Challenge Rally, comes from doing the Bluff hill climb, Twilight Drag Racing, Beach Racing (on Oreti Beach) Teretonga Track circuit racing, Oreti Park Speedway, Invercargill Street Races. Often riders will enter the hill climb, beach racing, circuit track racing and the street racing.

The rally had been held in November for the last 11 years but the weather in Southland is known to be very changeable and each year the rain and wind usually made some part of the four days miserable and forced a cancellation of some part of it. Thus, it was shifted to February when the weather is generally more settled. However rain on Sunday in 2018 and oil on the street circuit forced the cancellation of the street races.

Receiving the Spirit of the Quail Award.
Receiving the Spirit of the Quail Award.

Southland is at the bottom of the South Island of New Zealand and gets the worst weather from the Antarctica. Being a small landmass in a very large ocean the weather is very unpredictable but is of temperate climate. Only hardy people live in Southland in the rain.

Steve Huntzinger, master restorer and new owner Clyde Crouch.
Steve Huntzinger, master restorer and new owner Clyde Crouch.

The annual Burt Munro Challenge is scheduled for 7-10 in February of 2019 and will contain the Classic Motorcycle Mecca NZ Hill Climb Champs, HirePool Twilight Drag Racing, Indian Motorcycle NZBeach Racing Champs, E. Hayes & Sons Teretonga Circuit Races, Oreti Park Speedway Spectacular, Honda Invercargill Street Races. I made it last year with the Redhead and my Granddaughter. We had a blast as a major rally goer, Gold Wind rider and sidecar fanatic, Graeme Lowen and his family hosted us.

More from Graeme

I have had to think about your request regarding Hayes Hardware store and their collection.

EHayes Hardware
168 Dee Street, 
Invercargill, New Zealand

They have the original 1920 Indian Scout that set the records on display
there. They also have a display case of broken pistons and conrods, amongst
many other parts that Burt called Offerings to the God of Speed. This was
the original shelving that was in Burt's shed.



Here is a photo selection of a the
genuine bike that is kept in a glass case. The bike was never originally
painted red while Burt had it. It was Norman Hayes, who painted red. I guess the body
thing is in America as Burt only ever took the motor back and forth between New Zealand and America.

Not sure of the story as to how the whole bike came back to New Zealand but not the stream liner body. I guess he must have just left it with one of his American friends as a momento. There is bound to be an interesting story behind it somewhere.

The Hayes hardware, established in 1932, has a massive collection
of local classic and vintage motorcycles with a quite a few oddball motorcycles rarely seen elsewhere. There are examples of locally built midget racecars and bikes, as well a number of classic cars on display.

Then there is the one off 1965 LVVTA Corvair Custom bike, built in the USA, around a six cylinder Chev Corvair engine. I recall it having come in with an American Airforce man who was stationed in New Zealand as part of the 'Operation Deep Freeze' that flew from Christchurch to the Antarctic in the 1970s.

The Trailer used in the film.
The Trailer used in the film.

Somehow they also have Burt's original motorcycle trailer that he built in
America to haul his bike from LA to West Wendover. The purchase and
exporting of this particular bit of Burt's history did cause a bit of consternation amongst some Americans when they realized that the Kiwis had taken it back to New Zealand.

Here's Burt's original.
Here's Burt's original.

The Hayes boys were quite mechanically minded and Norman Hayes hand built
an engine out of parts that make you wonder just how the whole thing ran,
but run it can. The staff know to only run it for a minute at a time or else
the automatic fire alarm alerts the Fire Brigade and a fire engine duly
arrives and costs the firm quite a few dollars for a false call out.

There is the 100-meter 'Tool Wall' that is just that. It is the longest in New Zealand and has vast array of tools. When Burt was short of cash he would often visit Mr. Hayes and sell motorcycle parts, old tools, whatever he could muster.

There are displays of 'vintage tools' as well with some interesting tools
and lathes on display. These are scattered throughout the 5540 sq. meter
store, so you get to wander around the whole store to see everything.

If you are looking for bolts or washers, Hayes has an extensive collection. The
shop is not renown for being the cheapest in town, but if you cannot find
what you are looking for anywhere else, there is a good chance that you will
find it at Hayes. The service that they give is also very good.

I can recall being at the Brass Monkey motorcycle rally in the 1980s and
over-hearing a couple of riders from the North Island talking about going to
Invercargill to see Hayes store.

Most riders from the North Island allow a good two days one-way to get to the rally. Then Invercargill being right
at the bottom of the South Island and viewed as being wet and cold all the
time was not seen as desirable place to visit.

So, you see that it was of interest to me to think that these guys would
ride that far south to visit this hardware store. Such was its reputation even all those years ago.

And Now for the recent Munro Indian Land Speed Record Attempt.


Legendary Land-Speed Record Holder’s Great Nephew Returns to Bonneville Salt Flats Aboard Indian Scout “Spirit of Munro”

America’s first motorcycle company, Indian Motorcycle, announced today that Lee Munro, the great nephew of the legendary land-speed racer Burt Munro, would attempt to break 200 mph at Bonneville Salt Flats this August. Equipped with the Indian Motorcycle engineering team and the newly modified Indian Scout dubbed “Spirit of Munro”, Lee Munro is back and prepared to eclipse his previous official speed of 191.286 mph at the upcoming 70th annual Bonneville Speed Week.

In preparation for this year, Indian Motorcycle’s engineering team has worked on refining the Indian Scout Streamliner, which will run in the MPS-G (Modified Partial Streamliner) 1350 cc class. Lee Munro’s record-breaking run of 186.681 mph at El Mirage and official run of 191.286 mph at last year’s Speed Week has motivated the team to update the bike with modifications to the intake and minor body adjustments, to help Munro break into the exclusive 200-mph club.

“Indian Motorcycle was honored to partner with the Munro family last year and pay tribute to Burt’s incredible accomplishments and land-speed record set in 1967. We’re eager to be back on the salt flats with Lee and the ‘Sprit of Munro’,” said Gary Gray, Vice President – Racing, Technology & Service for Indian Motorcycle. “Our engineering team led by Wayne Kolden and Dan Gervais have put long hours into developing a bike capable of hitting the 200-mph mark and we’re excited to watch Lee pursue this goal. I would also like to thank our sponsors Cargill Station Ltd, Garry Robertson of Ocean Ridge Kaikoura New Zealand and Jerry Stinchfield of Roof Systems of Dallas, TX for helping us get to the salt.”

Lee Munro attributes his love for speed to the bloodline he shares with his great uncle, Burt Munro, who famously set a land-speed record in 1967 aboard a 1920 Indian Scout. In 2005, Burt Munro’s legacy was immortalized with the making of the popular film, “The World’s Fastest Indian,” starring Sir Anthony Hopkins and in 2017, Lee Munro celebrated the 50th anniversary of his great uncle’s record with a commemorative run at Bonneville Speed Week.

“My great uncle Burt is a significant inspiration for my own motorcycle racing career, and his appetite for speed is clearly a part of my DNA,” said Lee Munro. “Partnered with the exceptional team at Indian Motorcycle, I know we can make our dreams of hitting 200 mph a reality.”

Speed Week was held August 11-17 in Bonneville, Utah. This six-day event is created for determined riders who not only have a quest to be record holders, but also to ride at one of the most legendary locations for speed runs.

The Indian Scout “Spirit of Munro” race bike and Lee Munro’s 2018 land-speed attempts are proudly supported by Ocean Ridge and Roof Systems of Dallas, TX.

The weekend of the 16 of August, Indian Motorcycle kicked off the 69th annual Bonneville Speed Week by paying tribute to its iconic heritage and the 50th anniversary of Burt Munro’s historic land speed record in grand fashion.

The tribute was highlighted by commemorative land speed runs by Munro’s great nephew Lee Munro on a modified 2017 Indian Scout appropriately named “Spirit of Munro.” America’s first motorcycle company capped off the weekend with something that had never been done before – a moonlit screening of “The World’s Fastest Indian” under the desert sky for Speed Week campers.

“The World’s Fastest Indian,” staring Sir Anthony Hopkins, immortalized Burt Munro and the historic under-1000 cc world record run of his 1920 Scout Streamliner in August of 1967. Prior to its special commemorative screening on the Bonneville campground, the film’s director Roger Donaldson and Burt’s son and grandnephew, John and Lee Munro, shared anecdotes about the making of the film, Burt Munro and the impact his achievements have had on Indian Motorcycle and motorcycling in general. The talks and screening drew throngs of Speed Week attendees who were captivated by the feature film, cheering and clapping throughout as they watched under an immaculate starry night sky.

Indian Motorcycle teamed up with Kiwi road racer Lee Munro, Burt Munro’s great nephew, to celebrate the 50th anniversary and recreate the historic run during the 69th annual Speed Week. A team of engineers worked nights and weekends to create and refine Lee’s “Spirit of Munro” Motorcycle, a modified and partially streamlined 2017 Scout.

The team’s goal was to match Burt’s land speed record of 184 MPH to fully pay tribute to his run. To qualify for Bonneville, Lee achieved his speed licenses through runs at El Mirage Dry Lakebed in California, while even securing a land speed record of 186.681 MPH in the MPS-G (Modified Partial Streamliner) 1350cc class during his rookie run and surpassing the team’s original goal.

Entering Bonneville, the team’s new goal was to eclipse the 200 MPH mark. However, Lee’s runs proved to be a battle against the elements. Lee attempted his first two runs on the five-mile short course, resulting in his top performance of the weekend at 191.28 MPH and an unofficial run due to timer technical error.

The following day, Lee and team made gearing changes and took the modified 2017 Indian Scout out on Bonneville’s nine-mile long course. Unfortunately, high winds and rough overall conditions hindered the motorcycle, resulting in 186.415 MPH in his lone run of the day. On Monday, the team took another attempt on a newly routed long course, yet rough surface conditions forced Munro to exit his run before completing the timed section.

“It was my greatest honor to represent Indian Motorcycle in such an incredible tribute to my great uncle on this historic 50th Anniversary,” said Lee Munro. “We may not have had the results we were after, but piloting a modified Indian Scout on the same salt as my great Uncle Burt will forever be one of my most-cherished experiences. I’m looking forward to future runs and more success with my teammates and friends at Indian Motorcycle.”

Last year we left Bonneville not knowing for sure the potential of the bike. Little did we know that that first run last year was very good and we would struggle for a year just to get back to that speed. Bonneville showed us again who is the boss and it is not an easy place to go fast. Bonneville has lots of tools to make your speed quest a hardship---- hot weather, altitude, lack of traction, course surface roughness and of course wind direction. Already the ideas and plans are being floated around for next year……
--Lee Munro’s crew chief and Indian Motorcycle engineer Wayne Kolden

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Reader Comments

Awesome photo history. Thanks.

Simi Valley, CA
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

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