Saturday, January 6, 2024

On This Day - Herbert James "Burt" Munro Died

On this day, January 6, 1978, Burt Munro died of natural causes, he was 78 years old. Born Herbert James "Burt" Munro, Bert in his youth, was a New Zealand motorcycle racer, famous for setting an under-1,000 cc world record, at Bonneville, August 26, 1967, a record that still stands today. Munro was 68 and was riding a 47-year-old machine when he set his last record.
 


Working from his home in Invercargill, he worked for 20 years to highly modify the 1920 Indian motorcycle that he had bought that same year. Munro set his first New Zealand speed record in 1938 and later set seven more. He travelled to compete at the Bonneville Salt Flats, attempting to set world speed records. During his ten visits to the salt flats, he set three speed records, one of which still stands today.

Movie Trailer

His efforts, and success, are the basis of the motion picture The World's Fastest Indian (2005), starring Anthony Hopkins, and an earlier 1971 short documentary film Burt Munro: Offerings to the God of Speed, both directed by Roger Donaldson.

Early life

Munro was born in 1899 in Invercargill, New Zealand. His twin sister died at birth and Munro grew up on a farm in Edendale, east of Invercargill. Munro's interest in speed began at a young age, riding the family's fastest horse across the farm, despite the complaints of his father. Trips via train to the port at Invercargill were a rare source of excitement, and the arrival of cars, motorcycles and aircraft added to Burt's eagerness to join the world outside of his farm. As Munro's family discouraged his endeavors outside of farm life, he became constantly bored with daily routine, and at the outbreak of World War I, he intended to go to war as soon as he was old enough, for a chance to see the world.



Munro remained on the family farm until the end of the First World War, when his father sold the farm. At that time, Munro worked on the Otira Tunnel construction until recalled to work with his father on a newly purchased farm. After this he became a professional speedway rider, but returned home to the family farm at the start of the Great Depression. Finding work as a motorcycle salesman and mechanic, he still raced motorcycles and rose to the top of the New Zealand motorcycle scene, racing on Oreti Beach and later in Melbourne, Australia. After World War II, Munro and his wife divorced, and he subsequently gave up work to reside in a lock-up garage.

Challenges:

Munro's Indian Scout was very early off the production line, being only the 627th Scout to leave the American factory. The bike had an original top speed of 55 mph. But this did not satisfy Munro, so in 1926 he decided to start modifying his beloved Indian. The biggest two challenges for Munro to overcome while modifying his bike were his lack of money and the fact that he worked full time as a motorcycle salesman. He would often work overnight on his bikes, he had a 1936 Velocette MSS as well, then he would go to work in the morning, having had no sleep the night before.

Because Munro was a man of modest means, he would often make parts and tools himself instead of having them professionally built. For example, he would cast parts in old tins, make his own barrels, pistons, flywheels, etc. His micrometer was an old spoke. In its final stages, the Indian's displacement was 950 cc, as built it was 600 cc and was driven by a triple chain drive system. The "Munro Special," as Munro called his bike, is now owned by a motorcycle enthusiast in New Zealand's South Island, and is on display at E Hayes & Sons, Invercargill. There is also a second motorcycle purported to be the original "Munro Special" in Te Papa Museum, Wellington.

Bonneville Salt Flats and Speed Week:

The Bonneville Salt Flats in northwestern Utah, are known worldwide for their many miles of flat, compacted salt, perfect for testing speed machines. During Speed Week, usually in mid-late August, vehicle enthusiasts from around the world gather at Bonneville. Munro travelled to Bonneville ten times, the first time for "sightseeing" purposes. In the nine times he raced at Bonneville, Munro set three world records, in 1962, 1966 and 1967. He also once qualified at over 200 mph (320 km/h), but that was an unofficial run and was not counted. Following the misspelling of his name in an American motorcycling magazine in 1957, Bert Munro changed his name to Burt.

Personal life:

Munro had four children—John, June, Margaret and Gwen—with his wife Florence Beryl Martyn, whom he married in 1927. They were divorced in 1947. Having suffered from angina since the late 1950s, Munro suffered a partial stroke in 1977, and was admitted to hospital. He found his co-ordination had diminished. Frustrated, but wanting his motorcycles to remain in Southland, he sold both machines to a local dealer. Munro died of natural causes on 6 January 1978, aged 78 years.

Records:

  • In 1962, he set a world record of 288 km/h (178.95 mph) with his engine bored out to 850 cc (52 cubic inches)
  • In 1966, he set a world record of 270.476 km/h (168.066 mph)
  • In 1967, his engine was bored out to 950 cc (58 cubic inches) and he set a class record of 295.453 km/h (183.586 mph). To qualify he made a one-way run of 305.89 km/h (190.07 mph), the fastest-ever officially-recorded speed on an Indian. The unofficial speed record (officially timed) is 331 km/h (205.67 mph) for a flying mile.
  • In 2006, he was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

C.C. and Company film introduction

The cult classic C.C. and Company is a 1970 American biker film directed by Seymour Robbie. It starred Joe Namath as Biker C.C. Ryder, Ann-Margret as fashion journalist Ann, and William Smith as Moon, the leader of the fictitious Outlaw Motorcycle Club called the "Heads".The film also features singer Wayne Cochran and his band The C.C. Riders.
Plot:
C.C. Ryder falls in with a Outlaw Motorcycle Club in the desert, and then rescues Ann from trouble with the same club. There next occurs a motocross race tied in with a fashion shoot. The Heads disrupt the event, but C.C. Ryder enters the race to gain Ann's favor. This puts him in conflict with Moon. When Ryder wins the race and leaves with his award money the club kidnaps Ann, and Ryder must ride back to save her.


The film stars the following:

Joe Namath as C. C. Ryder
Ann-Margret as Ann McCalley
William Smith as Moon
Jennifer Billingsley as Pom Pom
Mike Battle as Rabbit
Greg Mullavey as Lizard
Teda Bracci as Pig
Don Chastain as Eddie Ellis
Sid Haig as Crow
Bruce Glover as Captain Midnight
Keva Kelly as Tandalaya
Jackie Rohr as Zit-Zit
Robert Keyworth as Charlie Hopkins
Alan Pappe as Photographer
Ned Wertimer as Motorcycle salesman
Wayne

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Driver Found Not Guilty in Military MC Deaths

Concord, New Hampshire (August 10, 2022) - A jury on Tuesday acquitted a pickup truck driver of causing the deaths of seven members of the Jarheads Motorcycle Club in a head-on collision in northern New Hampshire back in 2019.
 


Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, 26, of West Springfield, Massachusetts, had pleaded not guilty to multiple counts of negligent homicide, manslaughter, driving under the influence, and reckless conduct, although some of the charges were dropped during the trial. He has been in jail since the crash on June 21, 2019, in Randolph. His trial began on July 26.

Read More: Driver Acquitted in Deaths of Jarheads MC Members 


Saturday, July 30, 2022

Multiple motorcyclist involved in crash

Allegheny Township, Pennsylvania (July 30, 2022) - At least eight people were hospitalized following a multi-vehicle motorcycle crash in Westmoreland County on Saturday afternoon. 

According to emergency dispatchers, the collision occurred near Lynch Road in Allegheny Township around 1:30 p.m.
 


Four of the injured people were taken to the hospital by air transport. The other four were taken by ground vehicles, dispatchers said.




A Facebook post from an account called Riding for the Cure said the crash happened during their annual ride for breast cancer patients.




We have been made aware of the accident that occurred on the ride,” the post reads. “Everyone involved has received medical attention. Please keep those involved in your thoughts and prayers, as well as those that are continuing on.

The post emphasized that reports saying 30 bikes were involved in the crash were incorrect.