Fast and Furious Sexagenarian: Land Speed Record Breaker Burt Munro

Kenny Roger MoiseContributor IApril 4, 2009

Imagine a man owning a bike for nearly six decades and moreover setting land speed records with the same. Herbert James Munro or Burt Munro may not be the conventional sportsman to any of us.

But his life is a true example of sheer grit, determination and absolute passion for the Indian Scout, a motorcycle. This man looked like he was destined to be the World's fastest Indian.

With an original speed of 55 mph, Burt reworked on the Indian scout so much that it finally touched a speed of 183.58 mph at Bonneville Salt Flats, where motorcycle enthusiasts meet every year to test the intensity of their machines in terms of speed.

When Burt made this record, his bike was 47 years old and he was 68 years old. There are very few examples of resilience and extreme determination that I have ever come across. This New Zealander is indeed a class act.

He had worked so much so patiently on his machine and that too many times. Perseverance at its best I guess. I wish to end this tribute article by one his quotes about his attempts to break the speed record at Bonneville Salt Flats, the moment he was talking about was when he hit 206 mph speed:

"At the Salt in 1967 we were going like a bomb. Then she got the wobbles just over half way through the run. To slow her down I sat up. The wind tore my goggles off and the blast forced my eyeballs back into my head—couldn't see a thing.

"We were so far off the black line that we missed a steel marker stake by inches. I put her down—a few scratches all round but nothing much else."