Burt Munro Challenge
Southland has its first Burt Munro Challenge competitor of the year winner after seven years of the challenge's existence.
Invercargill rider Rhys Wilson joined an elite club when his name was etched on to the Munro Family Trophy after he was crowned competitor of the year for the 2012 challenge.
Wilson was awarded the trophy, which is on display at the E Hayes & Sons hardware store, by Burt Munro's children and grandchildren after the Wyndham St races.
He said the trophy, whose previous winners had come from north of the provincial boundary, was a huge honour and one he was proud to have his name on.
The trophy is awarded to the competitor who best exhibits traits similar to Burt Munro and after competing in all six events at the challenge on a 1937 Rudge Ulster 500cc motorbike, Wilson was judged a worthy winner.
"The old girl made it through with flying colours despite an all-night effort to repair damage after the beach races," he said.
Wilson said he was a little emotional when awarded the coveted trophy.
"There was a bit of emotion, but there was also a lot of pride," he said.
Competing in his first Burt Munro Challenge in 2008, Wilson broke his scapula and several ribs and missed the subsequent year's challenge.
But he has competed in the past three challenges on his restored Rudge.
"I've built the bike from the ground up so I have a little bit of an insight into why Burt spent so much time in his shed," he said.
Spending time with his "old girl" was something Wilson's wife, Karen, said she was used to.
"I'm very proud of his achievements and so are his two boys who also like motorbikes," she said.
Wilson said he owed a special thanks to several people including Burt Munro Challenge organising committee chairman Wayne Affleck, Ray McCulloch who helped with the engine rebuild and panel beater Darryl Madden.
"Without the support of my family and friends I would not be able to indulge in my passion," he said.
Wilson said he would be back again next year to honour the memory of Burt Munro's legend and race his beloved girder-forked machine.
- The Southland Times