Crowds flock to beach to relive spirit of Burt Munro

21:46, Nov 23 2012
Fans enjoy the Burt Munro New Zealand beach racing championships
WANNABE BURTS: Fans enjoy the Burt Munro New Zealand beach racing championships at Oreti Beach, near Invercargill, last night.

The tide rolled out and the motorbikes and fans rolled into the Bonneville of New Zealand - Oreti Beach - for the Burt Munro New Zealand beach racing championships last night.

For many fans and competitors, the beach racing is the highlight of the Burt Munro Challenge, and the absence of heavy rain and strong winds had the crowd arriving early.

Fans began finding their seats in the tussock in the sand dunes while riders warmed up with a few practice runs up and down the one-mile circuit on the beach.

Before making his way to the starting line for his first race of the night, Invercargill rider, and one of the favourites for the 50-mile Burt Munro Trophy, Greg Baynes said the beach race event was the "special one".

"This is the one I want to win the most," he said.

The beach racing event was also the only time authorities turned a blind eye to motorbikes going at high speeds on the beach, Baynes said.

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"Normally, the beach speed limit is 30 kilometres per hour on a legal street bike. This is 180kmh on a bike that normally can't go near a road."

All the way from Gisborne, Jim McMillan and Andrew Champion were at their first Burt Munro Challenge. "This is what it's all about," they said.

"To see where Burt Munro the legend was born," Mr McMillan said.

Ten-year-old fan Leyton Dowling, from Alexandra, was with his dad, Brendon, and said he was really excited to see the bikes on the beach. "I wish I could be racing out there."

The Southland Times