“World’s fastest Indian-Burt Munro a Scrapbook of his Life” – Rider’s Library

World’s fastest Indian: Burt Munro a Scrapbook of His Life | Rider's Library
World’s fastest Indian: Burt Munro a Scrapbook of His Life

Even if you have seen the feature film “The World’s Fastest Indian,” and the documentary film that gave rise to it, you still don’t have the whole story on Burt Munro and his legendary Indian Scout.

To get the whole story—much of it told as Burt himself saw it—you must have a copy of Roger Donaldson’s fascinating book, “The World’s Fastest Indian—Burt Munro-a Scrapbook of His Life.”

Land speed racing has produced many legends; both men and women and the machines they set records on, but as a result of Donaldson’s films, New Zealand’s Burt Munro has emerged as one of the more well-known—and colorful.

In doing research for the feature film, “The World’s Fastest Indian,” Donaldson was given access to Burt Munro’s four scrapbooks by Munro’s son, John. From those scrapbooks and materials provided by Munro’s friends and colleagues such as Marty Dickerson and others, Donaldson was able to create a 287 page collection of rare images, newspaper clippings, narrative and memorabilia.

Those materials, in combination with the materials put together around the time of Donaldson’s 1973 work on the “Offerings to the God of Speed” documentary are the wellspring of source material necessary to create this unmatched portrait of the everyman land speed racer, Burt Munro.

In addition to remarkable insights into Munro’s own character and his numerous forays to the Bonneville Salt Flats and the resulting speed records, Donaldson includes a behind-the-scenes pictorial chapter on the creation of the feature film, “The World’s Fastest Indian,” released in 2005, which starred Anthony Hopkins.

World’s fastest Indian: Burt Munro a Scrapbook of His LifeDonaldson relates doing his best to create a scrapbook-style volume that presents events in chronological order, but concedes that wasn’t always possible because of the informal way many of the materials were cataloged and kept. Nevertheless, the book flows and reads superbly taking the reader from the timeline of his life at the front of the book, through all his appearances at Bonneville and many of his record-setting runs at Oreti Beach in New Zealand, on to his death in 1978, to the release of the feature film in 2005 and his induction into the American Motorcyclist Association Hall of Fame in 2006.

In a world where movies so often depart from the facts, the book validates the motion picture’s accuracy with images of a number of the key details and events depicted in the movie shown as they were photographed at the time they occurred. The book adds yet more to the story, showing the real Burt Munro in depth and in vivid detail.

In this book there are so many images and so many rare glimpses into the life and times of the competitor and unique individual that was Burt Munro, which cannot be had anywhere else, that any collector of motorcycle history would be hard pressed to find a more insightful addition to their library.

Book data:

  • Title: World’s fastest Indian-Burt Munro a Scrapbook of his Life
  • Author: Roger Donaldson
  • Published: 2009, 2010, 2013
  • Publisher: Random House New Zealand, 18 Poland Road, Glenfield, Auckland, New Zealand
  • ISBN: 978-1-86979-480-4 Softcover.
  • Available through: Enthusiast Books, www.enthusiastbooks.com/

Note to readers: many of the books that we’ll feature in Rider’s Library may be out of print and some may be difficult to find. That could be half the fun. The Internet should make the search relatively easy but ironically, none of the books currently scheduled for eventual retro-review for the Rider’s Library section were found with the help of the Internet. They all were found at book stores, used book stores, antique shops, motorcycle shops, yard sales and so on.

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