Munro festival boosted by Time mag

NATHAN BURDON
Last updated 07:08 01/12/2013
munro
OLD WARRIORS: Phil Price of Christchurch on a 1954 Velocette Eldee 250 and No. 36 Rhys Wilson of Invercargill on a 1937 Rudge Ulster 500 battle it out in the Classic Pre 63 race at Teretonga during the Burt Munro Challenge near Invercargill.

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Last January Time magazine detailed its "Five Festive Events You Won't Want to Miss in 2013".

They included, in no particular order, the Indonesian Pasola festival, the Guca Trumpet festival in Serbia, the ArtPrize competition in Michigan, the Eurovision Song Contest and - Invercargill's Burt Munro Challenge.

Think what you like, it was marketing gold for the eight-strong Southland Motorcycle Club committee, whose members average about 500 hours each of voluntary time to ensure the four days of racing, and various other events that go alongside them, run smoothly.

Final figures will not be known until next week, but it's thought the buzz from the Time piece, among other factors, will mean a record number of spectators and riders for the eighth edition of an event which began after the release of Roger Donaldson's 2005 movie, The World's Fastest Indian.

The one thing the committee does not have control over is the weather.

While the sun was hot enough to melt the tar on Bluff Hill for the New Zealand hillclimb championships on Thursday, the sunburn had barely lost its sting before the New Zealand beach racing titles - the signature event of the Burt Munro Challenge - were contested at Oreti Beach on Friday night.

In scenes more reminiscent of a wind test tunnel with a tonne of sand thrown into it, Munro's legend was suitably celebrated by the hardiest of spectators who stayed until the end to see Invercargill's Greg Baynes take the chequered flag just before the rising tide reclaimed the race track for the 50-mile (80km) finale.

Yesterday there was a combination of sun, wind, driving rain and hail for the sprints at Teretonga and the speedway at Oreti Park, but things are expected to improve today for the second-most anticipated event of the race programme, the Wyndham Street Race.

The Eastern Southland township, population 550, makes the most of an annual influx of several thousand spectators, and today Christchurch's Ryan Hampton, whose grandmother originally hails from Wyndham, will be trying to mark his 25th birthday with his fourth consecutive street race title.

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- Sunday Star Times

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