Burt Munro’s record set in 1967 is one of the longest standing in land-speed motorcycle racing. The goal of the Spirit of Munro project was to commemorate the iconic run, and whom better to pilot the new Indian than Lee Munro, Burt’s great-nephew.
Lee is an avid motorcyclist and experienced road racer in his home country of New Zealand, but a newbie to the salt and land-speed racing. A trial run at El Mirage Dry Lake near Mojave California was very promising, with an MPS-G (modified, partial streamline, gas) class record of 186.681 mph set on the hard-caked clay of the dry lake.
Standing on the starting line of the Bonneville Long Course—a nine-mile long salt strip that disappears as a result of the curvature of the Earth—I can’t help but to liken the competitors and their machines to a nitrous-burning mechanized Doo Dah Parade. Each of them is unique, each of them bursting at the seams with passion for the sport, and each willing to lay it all on the line for the thrill of speed. From vintage Model A roadsters to retro-futuristic streamliners, the gene pool is deep and wide.
One motorcycle and its pilot stand out above the others—a 1947 1340cc Indian Flathead, completely vintage, with kickstart and all. The rider, Bob Lewis from Corpus Christi, is the Real McCoy. He wouldn’t divulge his actual age, sidestepping the question altogether by stating that he’s older than the vintage Indian motorcycle he’s piloting down the salt.
The gleam in his eye tells me that he’s a serious racer, and I step back as he prepares his Indian for the sprint down the salt. One cannot help but to draw the parallel to Burt Munro 50 years earlier, and his insatiable thirst for speed—living proof that the cocktail of salt and speed is infectious at any age.