The Fast Times

The Flashback: Offerings to the God of Speed on Oreti Beach

Burt Munro Challenge
The 12th annual Burt Munro Challenge is underway, which is the perfect time to take a look back at the inaugural "Burt", held back in 2006.

While most of the events at the Burt Munro Challenge take place on the seal, its roots are well and truly in the dirt. Well, the sand of Oreti Beach, actually. That’s the beach that provided the eponymous Burt Munro with 26 kilometres of smooth sand to test his “Munro Special”. Now, those who want to pay their respects to Burt and the “God of Speed” can use that stretch of sand to do the same, and that all began in 2006.

The Burt Munro Challenge

Burt Munro is the epitome of New Zealand’s “Number 8 Wire” mindset. He was the man from Invercargill, who spent most of his life tinkering in his garage until he was happy with his motorcycle – if that was ever possible. The bike was the aforementioned “Munro Special”, originally a 1920 Indian Scout, which took him around the world to set multiple world records on the Bonneville Salt Flats – two of those records still stand, too.

But it began on Oreti Beach, where Burt would test his bike, a place that is still the location of Indian Motorcycle New Zealand Beach Racing Champs. Like it is in 2018, the beach race was the centrepiece of the the original Burt Munro Challenge, helping set in place its reputation as “one hell of a weekend”.

The first “Burt” was held a year after The World’s Fastest Indian brought worldwide attention to Munro’s achievements, with the Southland Motorcycle Club being the heart and soul behind the event. That continues to this day, with the club working with Venture Southland, making for the region’s largest annual event that also happens to be a must-do for motorcyclists of all disciplines from around the world. But there have been some changes, which come in a change of dates, moving it from early December to early February.

Main Photo: Richard Menzies

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