Burt Munro 50-year speed record honoured

Invercargill Hammer Hardware Burt Munro's streamlinerInvercargill Hammer Hardware Burt Munro's streamliner

Burt Munro’s 50-year unbroken land speed record will be honoured with a special commemorative event in August 2017 at Bonneville Speed Week.

Burt’s son John and daughter Margaret will be special guests of Indian Motorcycle at the event which will honour Burt’s 1967 record of 184.087mph set in the SA 1000 class on his 1920 Indian Scout streamliner.

The record remains unbroken to this day, although the class is now called S-AF 1000cc.

Inaccurate record

Actually, the record was originally inaccurate.

Burt Munro trivia
Burt Munro

The record on his Indian 953cc Fuel Streamliner in the American Motorcyclist Association Land Speed Record in Class S.A. 1000 was originally listed by the American Motorcycle Association as 183.586mph.

That was supposed to be the average of his north run of 184.710mph and his south run of 183.463.

However, John told us at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in 2014 that the average is actually half a mile-per-hour faster at 184.087mph.

John Munro and MotorbikeWriter on the Indian Scout and Roadmaster
John Munro and MotorbikeWriter on the Indian Scout and Roadmaster at Sturgis

Only a couple of days earlier, John was notified by the AMA that the record had been adjusted.

“So, he’s dead for 36 years and he just broke another record,” he told us.

Munro Special display

Burt’s Scout is on display in a glass case in the Hammer Hardware store in his home town of Invercargill, New Zealand, among the E Hayes Motorworks Collection.

Invercargill
The Munro Special at Hammer Hardware

We recently visited the store where rare and historic bikes such as the Munro Special sit among nuts, bolts, screws, tools and cans of paint.

The 1967 record was set on his seventh trip to the Bonneville Salt Flats, not on his first trip as depicted in the 2005 movie The World’s Fastest Indian starring Anthony Hopkins.
The World's Fastest indian polaris salt flats

Unbroken records

Burt also set records in the 55 cubic-inch class at 178.971mph in 1962 and in the SA 1000 class in 1966 at 168.066mph.

There are only four AMA unbroken records older than Burt’s 1967 record: the 500cc S-AF class record set in 1958 of 212.288mph by Jess Thomas; the 650cc A-AF class record in 1961 of 159.542mph by Gary Richards; the 650cc S-AF class record in 1962 of 230.269mph by Bill Johnson; and the 650cc APS-AF class record in 1965 of 161.793mph also by Gary Richards.

2 Comments

  1. I been reading about the fastest indian etc. just could not understand how today could not be beaten that 1967 record ! I read for bikes under 1000 cc streamlined bikes class , is not possible today to build a bike streamliner and beat a 1967 record ????

  2. Good old Bert,
    Many dream of doing the same. But it took a Kiwi to do it.
    Been to NZ saw Bert’s Indian, just speechless on his build effort in a backyard shed.
    A leading example to all of courage and determination against odds, I salute you.

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