By Kevin Duke
When motorcyclists think of the legendary Bonneville Salt Flats, I’d bet most would envision either Rollie Free aboard a Vincent in his bathing suit or Burt Munro, whose historic land-speed record was immortalized in the Anthony Hopkins film, The World’s Fastest Indian.
Indian Motorcycle kicked off the 69th annual Bonneville Speed Week by paying tribute to the 50th anniversary of Burt Munro’s achievement. That tribute involved modifying a 2017 Indian Scout into a land-speed racer. Piloting the “Spirit Of Munro” would be Burt Munro’s great-grand-nephew, Lee Munro, who would blast across the same salt his famous relative did half a century earlier.
“My uncle Burt was a significant inspiration for my own racing career,” said Lee Munro, an accomplished roadracer in New Zealand, “and his appetite for speed is clearly a part of my DNA.”
Fun Fact: Munro’s original first name was Bert, but he changed it to Burt after it was misspelled in a 1957 American motorcycle magazine.
The fastest speed Burt Munro ever clocked at Bonneville was 190.07 mph in 1967, but that was on a one-way run that didn’t qualify as an official record. He was credited with an official record speed of 183.59 mph, an incredible achievement for a motorcycle/engine originally constructed in 1920!
John Munro, Burt’s son, came to Bonneville to see the Spirit of Munro run on the salt. John is responsible for upping his dad’s record to 184.087 mph in 2014, 36 years after Burt’s passing, when he noticed a calculation error made when determining the bike’s actual top speed in 1967. In the background is Lee Munro, whose grandfather is first cousins with Burt, best we could make out through John’s thick Kiwi accent.