Burt Munro And The World’s Fastest Indian

This past year a friend of mine, Michael Eatough of England, took part in the Haka Classic car rally in New Zealand.  This event was organized by the folks at Rally Round.  Recently Michael sent me a CD with over 500 photos that he took while taking part in this rally.  New Zealand is an extremely beautiful place and I’m still working my way through all of the spectacular photos that Michael sent to me.  One group of photos that caught me eye consisted of several photos related to Burt Munro and the world’s fastest Indian motorcycle.  I had forgotten that Burt Munro was from New Zealand.  But certainly the movie about him, “The World’s Fastest Indian”, is unforgettable.


Burt Munro At The Bonneville Salt Flats

Burt Munro was a New Zealand motorcycle racer, famous for setting an under-1,000 cc world record, at Bonneville on 26 August 1967 of over 190 miles per hour.  Burt Munro was 67 years old when he set that record on what started out as his 1920 600cc Indian that he bought as a used motorcycle in 1926.  Apparently this record still stands to this day.  When Burt bought this Indian motorcycle in 1926 it had a top speed of 55 miles per hour.  Obviously Burt made many improvements over the years.  Burt built and rode this world’s fastest Indian.

Burt Munro’s story is the basis of the motion picture “The World’s Fastest Indian” released in 2005, starring Anthony Hopkins.  Anthony Hopkins bears quite a likeness to Burt Munro.  This movie is worth seeing.


Burt Munro’s Indians

Burt Munro never had very much money and could not afford special tools and speed parts.  As a result, he would make parts and tools himself instead of buying them.  He would cast parts in old tins, make his own barrels, pistons, flywheels, etc.  This makes his accomplishments even more impressive.

Munro raced at Bonneville nine times and set three world records: first in 1962, then in 1966 and finally in 1967. He also once qualified at over 200 mph (320 km/h), but that was an unofficial run and was not counted.  Munro died of natural causes in 1978 at the age of 78.


The World’s Fastest Indian

Michael Eatough included a number of photos that he took at several high-quality car museums that the rally, Haka Classic, stopped at.  One photo, shown below, from the Southward Car Museum in Paraparamu, New Zealand shows quite a few Indian motorcycles.  Obviously Indians were quite common in New Zealand.


Indian Motorcycles At The Southward Car Museum

From all of the photos that Michael sent, it looks like New Zealand would be a great place to be a motorcycle rider.  I want to publically thank Michael Eatough for sending these photos and reminding me once again of the interesting story of Burt Munro and the world’s fastest Indian.

If you have any comments or questions about this post or Burt Munro, then please leave a comment below or you can send me a private message at the following address: shanna12 at comcast dot net

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2 Responses to Burt Munro And The World’s Fastest Indian

  1. Merrill Smith says:

    As a footnote to this, up here in your former country, this movie is often shown on the Aboriginal People’s Television Network. There’s nothing aboriginal about it, but it has the word Indian in the title, so it fits their mandate. I’m not criticizing or complaining, just noting the fact. It’s what TV networks do to meet their mandates.

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