Challenge draws big bucks
Millions injected into economyLOUISE BERWICK AND NEIL RATLEY
Burt Munro Challenge
Millions of dollars have been injected into the Southland economy as record numbers of motorcyclists converged on the city with thousands of people attending the annual Burt Munro Challenge.
The 2013 Burt Munro Challenge, which has featured in Time magazine, drew a record 530 entries for racing events, including 10 from Australia.
Burt Munro Challenge committee chairman Wayne Affleck said thousands of visitors stayed in the city and at the Oreti Park rally site at Sandy Point during the challenge. He believed more than 25,000 people watched racing events during the four days.
Australian double amputee Alan Kempster, 51, took out the Munro Family Trophy for his inspirational take on life, Mr Affleck said.
"I don't think there would be any motorbike rider who didn't admire him."
Mr Affleck said the event was only possible because of the community's support, volunteers and funders and especially Venture Southland.
Venture Southland group manager of community development and events Rex Capil said the challenge had brought millions of dollars into the area.
The organisation was carrying out a survey of the financial benefits during the event, expected to be released in the new year, but Mr Capil said it would be "well into the millions".
While Invercargill was humming with thousands of visitors, other Southland towns were also benefiting, Mr Capil said.
Motorcyclists were exploring the region and as they travelled to and from Invercargill they were stopping on their way, he said.
He described the event as a mecca for the motorcycle world.
"They used to come down for one helluva weekend; now they come down for one helluva week."
The 2013 event had attracted a lot more people than last year and organisers were trying to put their finger on why that was.
Many people thought the exposure in the Time magazine had contributed to the increase in numbers, he said.
"It all makes up one mega-event."
Beach racing organiser Stephen Winteringham echoed his sentiment.
About 10,000 spectators watched 120 competitors racing on the beach , with many citing the Time article as a reason for attending, he said.
"We are getting a lot of people coming because of the magazine article."
"Everybody just loves the feel of the atmosphere."
He was extremely pleased with the turnout and the minimal injuries.
Burt Munro would be stoked with the event as well, he said.
"I think he would have a smile on his face and say that he'd beat every one of yas [sic]."
Southland Motel Association branch president David O'Brien said between the Burt Munro Challenge, The Wiggles concert and a swimming tournament, motels were "pretty full".
"There was barely a bed left in Invercargill."
Chamber of Commerce president Sean Woodward said the event was great for business in the town.
The bikers were generally affluent and were spending locally, he said.
"It's worth its weight in gold."
Invercargill deputy Mayor Darren Ludlow said the event was "absolutely huge for the region".
"The city was rumbling. It's awesome to see. It feels great."
Southland District Mayor Gary Tong said the event was fantastic for the whole region.
Many people had commented on how welcoming Southlanders had been and he was "extremely proud" of the region for putting on such a good weekend.
Southland road policing services team leader Senior Sergeant John Pine said bikers and drivers were well behaved during the four-day event.
Riders and drivers were breath tested during the weekend with the number of drink-drivers very low, he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News