Remembering the roar of Burt's bike

23:54, Nov 27 2013

Ron Evans remembers the days the thunder from English-built motorcycles shook the sand and deafened the crowds on Oreti Beach during the beach races.

In his living room turning over the pages of a faded photo album, he also remembers watching in awe as Burt Munro flew away from him down the long straight beach.

The megaphone exhaust systems roared like none of the bikes today did, Mr Evans said.  

''I used to give him a push on his bike to get started when I was a boy,'' Mr Evans recalled.

Everyone was really excited to see the legendary motorcyclist do his stuff on the beach but it wasn't always smooth sailing.

''Burt's bike broke down a lot so his starts on the beach were not as often as we would have liked,'' Mr Evans said.


Despite being a young boy, Mr Evans, now 75, also fondly recalls Burt Munro's penchant for borrowing car batteries from spectators parked on the beach.

At first people were happy to lend the great man a battery to help start his bike but eventually even Burt's charm wore thin.

''People started looking the other way when Burt came looking for a battery. After he was finished with it it was dead flat,'' Mr Evans said.

When Burt got his bike going, no one could match it on the straight but he had trouble on the corners which were right-handers back then.

Although the beach champs are now raced anti-clockwise Mr Evans said in Burt's day they they went the opposite way.

Growing up in Holloway St just around the corner from Burt Munro's place on Bainfield Rd he remembered old Burt well, Mr Evans said.

''He was a real character, always laughing and always working on his bike,'' he said.

Mr Evans said he lent his photo album to the makers of The World's Fastest Indian and got invited to Oreti Beach to watch a practice run of the beach racing scenes.

When he received and apology for a delay because the replica Indian would not start he replied ''at least they are making an accurate movie.''

The Southland Times