Friday, 8 February 2013

Burt Munro and The World's fastest Indian


Jackie and I went right down to the bottom of New Zealand’s south island and headed to 105 Bainfield Road. Why? This is where the legendary Burt Munro built his motorcycles in a simple shed. Now containing a family home, the small piece of land once was also home to a lemon tree....



Many readers of my blog will understand what this is about, but some will not.

Burt Munro was an eccentric New Zealander who at 60 years old broke the land speed record on a 40 year old motorcycle with an original top speed of 55mph. The first time he took his motorcycle to Speed Week, at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, he broke the record at 179mph. His story was captured in a wonderful film, The World’s Fastest Indian. Motorcyclist or not, If you haven’t seen the film, it is simple – you must.

After Burt suffered a stroke, he sold his motorcycles to a local motorcycle fanatic. The bikes are kept at E.Hayes hardware store on Dee Street in Invarcargill, the town where Burt lived.



This is a replica of Burt’s record breaking bike, with its full slipstream shell....



One of Burt’s record breaking bikes....





Those that have seen the film, will no doubt remember Burt’s trailer that he moved his motorcycle around on. Here is the real trailer....



Burt had a set of shelves in his shed, where he kept the parts he hand-made for his bikes. With the words “Offerings to the God of speed” written on the edge of one of the shelves, I am not sure if the shelves were real, or made for the film. Either way, the shelves are now located in the hardware shop.



In addition to Burt Munro’s motorcycles, the store contains many other historical bikes and a few cars. It is quite a place and unlike any hardware store I have ever seen....













Finally, we went to see Burt’s grave in Invarcargill’s Eastern Cemetery....



What a rare, wonderful man.

23 comments:

KT Did said...

That was a great film and still on the top of my favorite list. What a great place of history to have visited. Thanks for taking me there!

(No Name) said...

One of my favorite movies. Nice post.

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sir:

What a great blog post and what a great tour. I loved the movie, and I loved that hardware store.My dad had a 1957 Chevy Belair, only in silver, not black.

And it was nice to see Burt's last stop too. This is probably the longest he's ever been at the speed limit.

Fondest regards,
Jack
Twisted Roads

Charlie6 said...

Great post Gary, the movie is indeed one to see if you love motorcycling!

Dom

Arkansas Patti said...

I loved that film. Thanks for the reminder of that special man and his amazing accomplishment.

RichardM said...

Thanks for the tour. That is an interesting hardware store, some pretty nice restored cars as well. I like the hardtop T-bird.

That's one of the few movies that I've seen in the past 10 years.

Trobairitz said...

One of my all time favorite movies.

So cool that you managed to make your way down there and got so see some of his relics.

Thanks for sharing the pictures.

Geoff James said...

Hi Gary,
You're really cramming in the activities so far and how wonderful you got to see traces of Burt. I've never been to the annual memorial races down there but the beach race in particular must be a sight to see.

Greetings from us on tour in sunny Tasmania - we saw the smoke from bush fires as soon as we landed yesterday!

Thomas Osburn said...

That is so cool. Yes, it is a great film, a must watch for everyone. So cool to see some of the actual bikes and the trailer.

Gary France said...

KT – It was a real pleasure to see some of the places featured in the film.

No Name – Mine too.

Jack – A 1957 Chevy Belair, fully restored, is a dream of mine. One day, one day. Agreed about Burt’s last stop. It was great to pay our respects to a great man.

Charlie6 – Once they get over the fact it is about motorcycles which seems to put a few off, a lot of non bikers then enjoy it too.

Patti – It was a truly great film about a truly great man.

Gary France said...

Richard – Jackie drooled over the T-bird. As hardware stores go, this is the best I am ever likely to see.

Trobairitz – It was one of my favourites as well. A great feel-good movie.

Geoff – Cramming it in is right! Poor Jackie – I think I have worn her out. I hope the two of you have a great time in Tasmania and watch out for those fires. Seeing Invarcargill was an unexpected treat and going to see some of the places where Burt had lived and worked was terrific.

Oz – I had to smile when I saw the trailer, It is funny how something so simple can be so memorable.

WooleyBugger said...

Such a wonderful post. This helps complete the vision of the man and makes him more real. And of course I have the movie as well and never tire of watching it.

Rex J. Covington said...

The movie is a great film and in my library. Plus New Zealand is on my bucket list to ride. Great post, look forward to more.

Snikrep Nitram said...

A great post this is. I appreciate the fact that it highlights on a number of things that interest me like motorcycle tires. My eyes never avoid anything to do with bikes, hence my street bike which I wish every rider would have..

Gary France said...

WooleyBugger – I am glad I was able to add a little more to the story. It is a wonderful feel-good movie.

Rex – If you get the chance to cross it off your bucket list, you really should.

Snikrep – I would never be so stupid to buy tires off the internet. I never trust people like you.

Janet Ndinda said...

I totally loved the video Gary. I also have to mention that this is a great blog for motorcyclist. I care about comfortable and relaxed motorcycle rides and i find this blog really informative. Michelin Motorcycle Tire

Mark Robertson said...

It is the best hardware shop in the world.
The best time to visit is the end of November when the Burt Munro Challenge annual festival is on including six races(beach race,hill climb,supercross,circuit race,speedway,street race) over four days.
Check out http://www.burtmunrochallenge.com/
This is one of the great motorcycle events. I went for the first time in 2013 and have already booked for 2014.
This is a must do.

Mark
Living the dream Racing team

John Munro said...

Just a wee addition. The movie about my Dad was totally based on fact. It covered a year in his life and we (his family) liaised with Roger Donaldson in ensuring that.

John Munro said...

Look me up Mark. I am always there at each event. John Munro

Gary France said...

Hi John - It is very nice to hear from you. To many of my readers, your Dad Burt Munro was a real hero. Not just as a motorcyclist, but as a man. It is very rewarding to hear the film accurately portrayed him. Best wishes, Gary.

Mike said...

Great stuff. I'm planning on visiting Burt's bikes when my Girlfriend and I visit NZ in February.

Gary France said...

I am sure you will enjoy it Mike.

p contiman said...

Thanks for the post - another armchair vacation....appreciate it.