Venture Southland proudly supports the Southland Motorcycle Club to hold the iconic Burt Munro Challenge working with the organising committee in the planning, management and promotion of the event to both local and international markets.
The Burt Munro Challenge is a motorcycle event that is Southland's largest annual event, attracting approximately 5,000 visitors and participants from outside the region each year. The Challenge is held over four days and was historically held in November each year, but from 2018 will be held in February.
The inaugural event was held in 2006 and comprised of a beach race, Teretonga circuit racing, a speedway event at Oreti Park and the first Wyndham street race. The evolution of the Burt Munro Challenge has seen the event grow and change each year and now involves the following events:
The Burt Munro Challenge Rally
The rally site is turned into a camping ground for the duration of the event, with access to all facilities including a bar area, food stalls, showers and entertainment. The entertainment comprises of two bands on both the Friday and Saturday night.
Invercargill Street Races
In 2015, Invercargill replaced the much-loved Wyndham venue for the street race and the two ‘tracks’ could hardly be more different. Invercargill’s new venue offers wide, new roads with fantastic grip, turning the sprint races into an absolute brake-fest. It’s frantic, busy and gives no rest to the racers.
Iconic Beach Race
The Oreti Beach race has been part of the Burt Munro Challenge since the event started in 2006. Each year the event is scheduled to suit the timing of the tides. For the approximately 130 competitors taking part, it’s the strong link to Burt himself that has them lining up to follow in his tracks. The course has changed over the years, with the track initially running a mile each way compared with the ½ mile laps competitors face today.
Oreti Park Speedway Spectacular
The Russell Cunningham Properties Oreti Park Speedway, has hosted multiple New Zealand Titles, international riders, and is always a major draw card for the Burt Munro Challenge.
Bluff Hill Climb
The hill climb takes place on the road to the summit of Bluff Hill and is 1.4 kilometres in length. After a twisty section at the base of the hill competitors face a long straight before a steep climb over the final segment. Competitors receive two practice runs before three official timed runs to establish the fastest overall time of the day.
Teretonga Circuit Races
Held at the home track of Southland Motorcycle Club, Teretonga is is one of the oldest tracks in New Zealand. Many will tell you it’s one of the best grip circuits in the country.
In the past the Challenge has also included the Wyndham Street Race (changed to Invercargill for logistical reasons in 2015), MotorX, and Moletrack racing.
The Challenge has forged a name for itself as one of New Zealand’s major Motorsport event with a strong local and national following and rapidly growing international interest. The challenge attracts top New Zealand riders as well as weekend warriors, who are provided with a variety of events to enter, fantastic entertainment, and famous southern hospitality.
New Zealand motorcycle racer, Burt Munro is the subject of “The World's Fastest Indian”, a 2005 New Zealand biographical sports drama film based in Invercargill. Burt Munro raced a highly modified 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle. Munro set numerous land speed records for motorcycles with engines less than 1,000cc at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in the late 1950s and into the 1960s. The film stars Anthony Hopkins, and was produced, written and directed by Roger Donaldson.
Born in Edendale in 1899, Burt Munro purchased his first motorcycle at the age of 15. In 1920 he purchased his first Indian Scout, a bike that he would continue to modify with his own custom made parts for the rest of his life.
After setting a number of New Zealand land speed records in the 1940's and 1950's Munro's next goal was to compete at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, United States. On his first trip to Bonneville as a competitor in 1962, aged 63, Munro set a land speed record of 178.97mph. He travelled to Bonneville a further eight times to compete and set two more world records. His 1967 record of 183.58mph still stands today, and the speed of 190.07mph he hit during a qualifying run remains the fastest ever recorded speed on an Indian motorcycle. Burt Munro was an extraordinary character that represents real and positive kiwi attributes such as ingenuity, dogged determination, and a laid back and humorous demeanour
History of the Event
Following the success of the 2005 movie about Burt Munro’s inspirational life - “The World’s Fastest Indian", the Invercargill City Council was keen to capitalise on the publicity the film created, and approached Venture Southland to see what could be done, suggesting a potential rally.
Simultaneously, the Southland Motorcycle Club and the Wyndham Businessman’s Association both approached Venture Southland for assistance in establishing motorcycle events in Southland. As a result of these two inquiries, the Burt Munro Challenge organising committee was formed. The committee, who is made up of members of the Southland motorcycle club, Venture Southland Staff and motorcyclist enthusiasts, has been responsible for bringing the rally concept to life and continuing to ensure it goes from strength to strength each year.
The Burt Munro Challenge honours Burt Munro, his ingenuity, determination, and love of speed and motorcycles whilst promoting Southland as the Classic motoring capital of New Zealand.