Burt Munro, of World’s Fastest Indian fame, inducted into Sturgis Hall of Fame
Bring up motorcycle land speed racing in a crowd, and two names will rise to the top of the conversation: Roland “Rollie” Free and Burt Munro. The former you’ll recognize as the subject of the most famous photo in motorcycling; the latter is the man whose incredible story and racing efforts were immortalized in The World’s Fastest Indian, a 2005 movie starring Anthony Hopkins. Munro’s latest honor is a place in the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame, which pays homage to the remarkable individuals who have made enduring contributions to the motorcycle community.
Burt Munro was born, lived, and passed in Invercargill, New Zealand, but made his name on the Bonneville Salt Flats of the western U.S., a destination for land-speed racing. Munro visited the lake bed 10 times and racked up three world records aboard his 1920 Indian Scout that he extensively modified and streamlined. He was a mechanic and rider all in one, and even built his own speed parts for the early-model Indian.
His record runs at Bonneville came to fruition in 1962 when he clocked a two-way average of 178.95 mph with an engine displacing 850cc, fitting him into the sub-883cc record class. His final trip was in 1967 when he ran a two-way average of 184.087 mph and an unofficial top speed of 205.67 mph—as a 67 year-old rider on a garage-built, 47-year-old motorcycle. Maybe age is just a number after all.
Munro passed in 1978 at the age of 78, leaving behind a legacy of dedication and resolve that still inspires racers and prospective racers. The now-legendary world’s fastest Indian motorcycle, known as the “Munro Special,” lives in a small museum in New Zealand as a testament to what a single person can achieve when they chase their dream.
In 2006 Munro was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame. Now he has a place in the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame as well. The Hall of Fame class of 2023 also includes 1981 Des Nations Team USA, Chris Callen, Jay Allen, Roland Sands, Russel Radke, and Scott Jacobs.