The Burt gets a makeover

Old Bike Australasia - - RACE REPORTS BURT MUNRO - Re­port and pho­tos Stu­art Fran­cis

The Burt Munro Chal­lenge has evolved over the last 13 years into a four day in­ter­na­tional mo­tor­cy­cling fes­ti­val. Now one of New Zealand’s ma­jor motorsport events, the laid back event is at­tract­ing an in­creas­ing num­ber of com­peti­tors and spec­ta­tors from Aus­tralia, Europe and Amer­ica. Rac­ing cov­ers a wide range of classes from Pre 63s with Girder Forks to For­mula 1, with half of the classes for vin­tage, clas­sic and lost era ma­chin­ery. The Clas­sic and Post Clas­sic classes at­tract a very di­verse en­try. Af­ter a num­ber of weather af­fected events in the last few years the de­ci­sion was made to move the Chal­lenge to the sec­ond week in Fe­bru­ary. The move was a great suc­cess with record at­ten­dance of com­peti­tors, mo­tor­cy­clists and en­thu­si­asts and with only one weather af­fected event. The or­gan­is­ers are al­ways on the look­out for new events and classes. This year they added 1/4mile Twi­light Drag rac­ing on Thurs­day evening and the AMCA C class rac­ers (for 750cc side­valves) to the ma­jor events. The Chal­lenge kicked off on Thurs­day morn­ing with the road hill climb – a 1.4km blast up the side of “Bluff Hill” on a wind­ing road with large drop offs and rock faces, with a few short straights and sev­eral chal­leng­ing cor­ners. With 70 en­tries in 7 classes in­clud­ing new for this year Amer­i­can C class, it was a packed pro­gramme. The fastest time of the day 43.65secs was Mitch Rees on his 2017 Honda CBR1000. The 1/4mile Twi­light Drag Rac­ing was a ru­n­away suc­cess, ex­ceed­ing ev­ery­body’s ex­pec­ta­tions and at­tract­ing one of the largest crowds. The strip was laid out on the main straight of the Tere­tonga rac­ing cir­cuit. The quick­est run of the evening was Barry Mitchell on his Yamaha FJ Pro Stock achiev­ing 9.767secs, and a highly tuned Suzuki Hayabusa topped 150mph through the speed trap. A num­ber of the older ma­chines did not fit the nor­mal drag rac­ing classes so a Demon­stra­tion class was in­sti­gated. It be­came an Aus­tralian ben­e­fit with Danny Ahearn on his Match­less G50, win­ning the class with a 15.042secs run and Bianca Bon­ner (HMRAV) com­ing sec­ond, on her 1942 WLA Har­ley, with a 16.481secs run.

Beach rac­ing started ear­lier than usual, the change of dates moved low tide at Oreti beach to mid-af­ter­noon. How­ever it was a great event with 80 en­tries in 10 classes and un­of­fi­cial es­ti­mates putting at­ten­dance at over 4000. The older ma­chines were out in some num­bers as were the modern mo­tocrossers, a few long track speed­way ma­chines and open class ma­chines. The 1 mile course is marked out by two oil drums ½ mile apart. The at­ten­dance of Roger Don­ald­son (di­rec­tor of “The World’s Fastest In­dian”) was an un­ex­pected bonus; his first time back at the beach since film­ing some of the key scenes for the 2005 film. The suc­cess of the film led di­rectly to the cre­ation of the Burt Munro Chal­lenge. Roger started the pre­mier 50mile beach race which was won by Aus­tralian Damien Koppe in just over 45mins.

The His­toric Mo­tor­cy­cle Rac­ing As­so­ci­a­tion of Vic­to­ria (HMRAV)

shipped 10 C class Har­leys and In­di­ans rac­ers and 10 road ma­chines, from Mel­bourne, es­pe­cially for the event. Eddy Garner led the HMRAV con­tin­gent, a na­tive of In­ver­cargill he now lives in Mel­bourne. Their hand change and foot clutch C Class rac­ers went down a storm. The team had a real blast, com­pet­ing in as many events in four days as most of them do in a year. They will be back. Wan­der­ing around each of the pits is an ed­u­ca­tion in it­self, the sheer di­ver­sity of the over 300 rac­ing ma­chines en­tered is out­stand­ing, from Mal­colm Pearce’s 1930 Royal En­field K9 1130cc V twin to Wayne Pi­card’s 2000 MV Au­gusta F4 750, speed­way out­fits, su­per mo­tards, beach rac­ing moto-crossers and the un­gainly look­ing un­lim­ited beach rac­ers. Tucked away in the pits were a cou­ple of gems that caught this re­porter’s eye. Phil Price’s lat­est Ve­lo­cette project is a replica of a works 1938 350 DOHC en­gine housed in a copy of the last post-war works rolling chas­sis. Phil has spent a small for­tune hav­ing parts cast in mag­ne­sium and cut­ting the weight down to 102kgs dry. The goal is a 100mph lap at the IoM later this year, and given the three straight wins Chris Swal­low achieved at Tere­tonga I think they are well on their way. The other ma­chine was Bruce McGregor’s 1969 Drix­ton 500 Honda, it looked ev­ery inch the clas­sic racer. The third day of the Chal­lenge was cir­cuit rac­ing at Tere­tonga; the in­ter­na­tional cir­cuit is 2.62km long and roughly B shaped. A long main straight tests top speed and a series of long sweep­ing bends tests han­dling. The races are mostly four laps long, cov­er­ing 13 classes from pre 63 girder-fork to For­mula 1. Some of the races are com­bined classes, the pre 63 girder class was run at the same time as the C Class 750cc side-valves. The big­gest grid was the BEARS F1 open, the hotly con­tested lead and di­ver­sity of ma­chines was a real crowd pleaser. The three races were won by: Kevin Beau­mont Du­cati BK1, Jonny Lewis Aprilia RSV4, and Jay­den Gal­way Tri­umph Day­tona 675.

The ex­cel­lent weather lasted un­til Sun­day morn­ing when the Street Rac­ing started in over­cast con­di­tions. The cir­cuit is roughly square with a chi­cane on the back straight, laid out on the roads of an in­dus­trial park near the In­ver­cargill City cen­tre. Prac­tice and qual­i­fy­ing ses­sions were com­pleted, af­ter a few show­ers, but with some rid­ers com­plain­ing that parts of the cir­cuit lacked grip. A sig­nif­i­cant oil and fuel spill had con­tam­i­nated the track. Heavy rain started just as the Class C rac­ers went out for the first race, turn­ing the cir­cuit into a skat­ing ring. Clerk of the Course Andy Un­der­hay wisely ter­mi­nated the rac­ing and was ap­plauded by the rid­ers for the de­ci­sion. The so­cial side of the event was an­other great suc­cess, the big­gest event was the four day Rally at Oreti Park with 1400 rid­ers at­tend­ing. A toy and poker run was held on Sun­day morn­ing as part of the rally. The Bill Richard­son Trust’s Mo­tor­cy­cle Mecca, a col­lec­tion of over 300 mo­tor­cy­cles, was packed the whole time as was Trans­port World, one of the world’s largest col­lec­tion of Trucks and older ve­hi­cles. The E Hayes & Sons shop, home of Burt Munro’s “The World’s Fastest In­dian” and the Hayes ve­hi­cle col­lec­tion was also crammed full. The In­dian mo­tor­cy­cle com­pany had their lat­est mod­els on dis­play at Hayes and took a num­ber of or­ders. The South­land Vin­tage Car Club had a col­lec­tion of ‘70s and ‘80s mo­tor­cy­cles on dis­play at their clu­b­rooms. The Munro Fam­ily Tro­phy was pre­sented to Neil ‘Turbo Ton­sils’ Ritchie, who has com­men­tated at ev­ery Burt Munro Chal­lenge since 2006 – the first time a non-rider had been so hon­oured, but ev­ery­body agreed it was well de­served.

Beach Rac­ing – bikes as far as the eye can see.

The line up of HMRAV Class C Rac­ers.

Beach beast – an Un­lim­ited class Honda.

Mal­colm Pearce’s 1930 Royal En­field K9 in the Tere­tonga pits. Paddy Snow­don fly­ing off the line at Bluff on his 1942 In­dian Chief 1200. He recorded an im­pres­sive 63.40 sec­onds.

The Pre 63s and Pre 72s blast off the line at Tere­t­ona. Bruce McGregor’s stun­ning 1969 Drix­ton Honda.

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