Home Inspirational Burt Munro – A lesson in Living YOUR Dream

Burt Munro – A lesson in Living YOUR Dream

by Robbie Dellow
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This is the inspiring true story about living your dream. A story about a somewhat regular guy, living far away in New Zealand, that quietly worked towards his far-off goal which many said could never be achieved. Classic No Rule Book stuff!

Burt Munro lived in Invercargill, which is in the very bottom of the South Island of New Zealand, where he lived in a very modest shed, which also doubled as his mechanical workshop. Burt had a deep fascination with motorcycles, their mechanical workings, and seeing how fast he could make them go. In particular, Indian motorcycles. (Indian Motorcycle Company being the oldest motorcycle company in America. Even older than Harley Davidson!).

Having little money for expensive tooling and parts, he would learn to  improvise and make his own. He would cast his own pistons, barrels  and flywheels, trialling various metals available, performing numerous speed test on the local beach. Constantly testing and modifying, he would be continually trying to squeeze that extra performance and speed out of his creations. All of this preparation was helping Burt inch closer to his big goal – To test his creations in, what he saw, as the fastest place in the world – The Bonneville Salt Flats, in Utah, USA. To see how fast it could really go on the big stage!

Many of the residents of his backwater, conservative town,  considered Bert a reclusive and eccentric crackpot. To his exasperated neighbours he was a nightmare, with the constant revving of his machines from early morning until late at night. But Burt was focused and driven –  he held firmly to his far-reaching dream. Continually tweaking and testing his pride and joy, a heavily modified 1920 Indian Scout, renamed ‘The Munro Special.’ This bike had an original top speed of 55mph (89km/h). This would be the  bike that he would ride to achieve his far-reaching goal of journeying to the American salt flats, during ‘Speed Week’ to “See how fast it can go.”

He didn’t really care what others thought of his hermit lifestyle, and his crazy dream. As far as he was concerned, if he could achieve his goal, then he would be contented to return home and die a happy and contented old man. Such a simple wish, but incredibly ambitious for a man that had never ventured far from even his New Zealand hometown.

His first trip to Utah’s Bonneville Salt Flats was in 1962 when Burt was 63. He would make a total of 9 trips, setting 3 world speed records in all. It was at his 1967 visit that he set a record top speed of 184mph (unofficially 205mph), for a sub-1000cc motorcycle – This record still stands to  this day. Burt was an incredible 68 years old when he performed this daring feat! Indeed one of his more memorable quotes was, “You live more in five minutes on a bike like this going flat out than some people live in a lifetime.”

Burt’s life is testament to living a full life bound by none of societies restrictions, rules and expectations. A life where he was living his dream, being honest to himself, doing what he desired, without harming and taking advantage of anyone else.  His dogged determination, ingenuity and extraordinary character have been captured in the must-see ‘The World’s Fastest Indian’ movie, starring Anthony Hopkins. I highly recommend this movie in which Hopkins actually stated that his role as Burt was his favourite of his career. In his hometown, his legacy is captured in the annual ‘Burt Munro Challenge’ motorcycle competition held annually on the very beach he used for testing his creations.

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