Burt Munro’s great nephew, Lee, has qualified to take an historic run on a special Scout Streamliner at Bonneville Speed Week in August 2017 to honour Burt’s 50-year unbroken land speed record.
To compete on the Bonneville salt flats, Lee has had to prove he can handle the high speeds.
“They’re not going to let any monkey on a bike twist a throttle without proving that,” Lee told iNews.
“You’ve got to prove your salt”.
He certainly did that when set a new speed record for the 1350cc Modified Partial Streamliner – Gas class of bikes at El Mirage, California, on Sunday, with a speed of 186.861mph (300.723kmh).
But Lee won’t be breaking his great uncle’s 1967 record of 184.087mph set in the SA 1000 class on his 1920 Indian Scout streamliner as that class no longer exists.
The class is now called S-AF (Streamliner special construction fuel) 1000cc.
Lee’s Indian Scout Streamliner has been specially prepared by Indian motorcycle.
“The bike moves around a little bit but the Indian was pretty well-planted … it didn’t give me any reason to worry that it wasn’t stable,” Lee told iNews.
“The engine’s so strong, the chassis is so stable – it felt like I was riding on a street on a well-built road bike – nothing scary.”
Lee was born and raised in Burt’s home town of Invercargill, New Zealand. Lee started downhill mountain bike racing and was second in the NZ national championship.
He has now moved on to motorcycle road racing, winning the vintage class at the Methven Street Races this year on a 1941 Indian motorcycle.
Lee and Burt are actually cousins twice removed as Burt and Lee’s grandfather are first cousins. However, Lee knows him as “great uncle Burt”.
It will be a real family affair at Bonneville as Burt’s son John and daughter Margaret will also be special guests of Indian Motorcycle at the August 13 event.
Actually, the record was originally inaccurate.
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.
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.
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.
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.