On Aug. 26, 1967, New Zealander Burt Munro set a land speed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats on a self-modified 1920 Indian Scout, a record that still stands today. This Aug.13, just shy of 50 years after that historic run, Munro’s great nephew Lee will try to recreate it on a modern Indian Scout with a custom aerodynamic fairing dubbed the “Spirit of Munro Scout.”
“My uncle Burt was a significant inspiration for my own racing career and his appetite for speed is clearly a part of my DNA,” says Lee Munro, himself a road racer in New Zealand. “What Indian Motorcycle is doing is fantastic and I couldn’t be prouder to partner with them and pilot my own Scout at Bonneville in honor of my uncle and the 50th anniversary of his historic record.”
A large part of Burt Munro’s story (made famous in the 2005 film “The World’s Fastest Indian” starring Anthony Hopkins) was how he built his Munro Special by himself in his shed, spending upwards of 16 hours a day on his pet project. Munro built his own parts, casting his own pistons from old gas pipelines and filing his own cams by hand.
The Spirit of Munro Scout was an after hours project, only it was produced by Indian engineers volunteering their time. With a new Indian Scout as the starting point, they modified the power train, crafted the fairing, added new wheels and suspension and installed footpegs right on the swingarm for a streamlined riding position. The team will test the bike out in El Mirage, Calif., before going to the Salt Flats in northern Utah.
“Motorcycling is about shedding boundaries and limitations to go beyond the norm and there is no better example of that than Burt Munro,” said Reid Wilson, Indian Motorcycle Marketing Director. “Driven by unparalleled determination and a legendary passion for the pursuit, Burt Munro embodies the spirit of Indian Motorcycle and we couldn’t be prouder to honor his legacy with an updated version of his historic record on the Bonneville Salt Flats in August.”
While he will attempt to ride the Scout faster than any modern Indian has gone before, Munro won’t be officially competing in any Bonneville Speed Week class. Munro won’t be trying to break his great uncle’s record of 183.58 mph (the modern Scout’s stock engine displaces 1133cc, making it too big for Burt Munro’s streamlined motorcycles under 1000cc record); instead, he’s trying to honor his predecessor’s legacy.
Lee Munro has won several races and titles in New Zealand, including a recent victory in a vintage motorcycle race on a 1941 Indian. He also plans to eventually race in the Isle of Man TT.