Last month I was lucky enough to ride an Indian Chieftain motorcycle through New Zealand’s south Island, from Picton in the north, down the east coast to Christchurch, across to Queenstown on the west coast and then down to Invercargill at the very southern tip. It was an amazing trip with the most stunning scenery and roads that were varied and exhilarating.
My reason for the ride was to visit the annual Burt Munro Challenge in Invercargill, the home of speed bike racer Burt Munro.
Burt was the inspiration for the 2005 film ‘The Worlds Greatest Indian”, starring Anthony Hopkins. The movie follows his endeavors on a highly modified Indian Scout motorcycle to set numerous land speed records for motorcycles with engines less than 1000cc at the Bonneville Salt Flays in Utah in the late 50’s and 60’s.
The Burt Munro Challenge is a great weekend with riders from all around New Zealand, Australia and the world taking part in beach, speedway, circuit, street and hill climb racing on bikes of all ages.
Burt was obviously a very determined man, who always wanted to achieve something big, which he did and in the process also put his hometown of Invercargill on the world map.
Over 230 cars, bikes and trucks ranging from the turn of the century to modern have entered this month’s Speedweek and organisers are hoping for some world speed records to be broken.
For an insight into Dry Lake Racing, click on this link to see some of the action from the 2017 Speedweek competition.
One of Speedweek’s regulars, father Mark, daughter Gemma and son Kurt Dunn (all of whom drive) will again compete in their purpose built 2012 Toploader 417 Chev Lakester, which in 2017 set a personal best and record speed of 251.397mph, the equivalent to 404.584kph. This year they are doing things a little differently by teaming Gemma up with Rachelle Splatt. Rachelle is the first woman to run 300mph in a Top Fuel dragster, a record set in 1993 that still remains unbroken on Australian soil.
It’s going to be an amazing week on the salt and I certainly wish Gemma and Rachelle the best of luck.