Burt Munro Challenge

2009 Burt Munro

This rally, organised by the Southland Motorcycle Club, continues to be the best Motorcycle event of its kind in New Zealand. It’s professionally run and very well organised with the numbers attending just getting bigger and bigger each year.

Pictures of the event here

The first event this year was the Bluff Hill climb racing which was held in “patchy” conditions at Bluff on Thursday. A reasonable crowd turned out for some good racing on what is really a bit of a goat track – uneven surface, loose gravel, off camber corners and some pretty steep bits. A good touch was the vans available to transport you up and down the track in between races to bush cleared patches to watch the racing from. Passing showers slowed some of the riders on the already dodgy surface but others just roared up the hill – gutsy stuff considering the conditions.

Friday started out well with fine weather but by lunchtime the wind had got up a bit. After checking in at the gate and a lap around the rally site to suss out any other scooters it was time to put the tent up. After a few lessons learnt last year, Southern Scoot found a more sheltered spot to set up camp for the weekend – sheltered, dry and close to the amenities it was but quiet it wasn’t. The purchase of an air bed was deemed worthy for this event, so a 12v external power socket was installed on the PX for the also necessary air pump which worked mint. By about 2pm the wind had got up and rain looked imminent so it was off to the marquee for a couple of quiets.

One of my mates turned up – not on his vespa though – poofta, and we went down to the local school hall where the vintage car/bike club had a good display of classic bikes. My choice was a cool victoria moped although an absolute mint triumph bonneville (without a drip tray on the hall floor, unlike most of the other bikes there) was in the hunt. Unfortuneately our brief ride down there was accompanied by an absolute downpour which was to set the scene for the rest of the day and evening. Back to the marquee where some of the food stalls were getting hammered by gale force winds it was only a matter of time for the curry guru tent as it started to self destruct in the conditions.

Unfortuneatly this crap weather was to carry on for a while and the beach racing was eventually cancelled. There were 2 local bands back at the BMC this year, John Moon and an outfit called Big Kitchen. I thought Big Kitchen were great with a keyboard/singer, leadguitar/trumpet/vocals and a good rhythm section playing some excellent songs. John Moon have had some personnel changes but they get better and better – good one Nigel. First timers at the rally site this year, Paul and Jane from Cafe Addiction served up some excellent spit roast meals with great coffees to match and with thier hard working staff pulled an all nighter to get meals out to the hungry hordes – great stuff and I can recommend the pork meals and the flat white coffees.

Saturday started out warm and fine and got better with the Sprint racing at the adjacent Teretonga Raceway. If you want to see how fast your bike can go then Teretonga is as good a place as any with a long straight and plenty of fast corners. There are plenty of spots to sit and watch the racing and also good access to the pit area. Walking around the pits I noticed an old favourite bike  – a TT500 set up for racing, and talking to the owner he was racing it in the same class as his son who was on an XR500. The XR had a fresher motor and was a bit quicker but the race I watched, there wasn’t much in it. The Motard class is quite big and it is easy to see why it is so popular although you can race in other different categories, by year etc.

If you are going to attend the speedway – get there early, take a seat/chilli bin and have a look at some seriously dangerous stuff. The conditions were good with the water trucks keeping the track in good nick. A few people got run over, thrown off and left behind – how no one got badly injured is beyond me. One of the swingers was catapulted of his sidecar and must have done at least 3 cartwheels before hitting the deck. Apparently the barriers/walls are made of concrete – go figure! There were some younger riders on a little track in the centre of the speedway who weren’t immune to crashing with the ambulance being required for a couple of prangs. I must admit that it was an excellent spectacle and previous thoughts of having a go at speedway are well and truly gone as the instinct for self preservation is pervasive.

Good to see the local riders doing well against some great competition. My pick for the locals was No.69 – Joe Hughes. One minute he’s racing or he’s behind the bar in the marquee and helping out with the other volunteers – good stuff Joe. The other entertainment was watching all of the cars trying to get out of the venue at the end of the day – chaos. Saturday night is when more people turn up to the rally site with a lot of locals putting in an appearance just for the night – sad really but hey, go hard or go home. After friday nights effort at sleep due to the location of the Southern Scoot tent site it was decided to stay till stumps to aid in actually getting some sleep. This indeed proved to be a good thing however the adjacent tent owners may not have approved of the snoring volume or consistancy.

Sunday began badly for some of the less well secured tents as they tried to self destruct in the wind but most people had got their campsites tidied up and were ready for the toy run to Wyndham at 9.00am with the street racing to follow. This year I packed up early and went home for breakfast and then went out to the racing with friends. The street racing was awesome with some good seating set up at strategic bends and a bridge constructed for the day to get people from one side of the street to the other.

If you have an allergy to hay bales then you better give it a miss. Andrew Stroud was there this year racing a suzuki and showing off on the Britten Bike. We settled on watching from the first corner after the start line and were surprised at how many riders came off here, we must have seen 4 or 5 accidents in the time that we stayed there however the ambulance and track marshalls were quick to pick up the bikes and anything else left on the track. I remembered the ear plugs this year but may have to invest in a better camera for next year.

The coveted Burt Munro Challenge Trophy, awarded for overall contribution, went to New Plymouth’s Mitch Rowe, who participated in almost every event. The only event he missed was the Speedway Spectacular.

In the Wyndham Street Race event on Sunday, the battle was on between many-time former national superbike champion Andrew Stroud (Suzuki GSX-R1000) and fellow Hamilton rider Nicholas Cole (on a 600cc bike, a Kawasaki ZX6R), with Stroud eventually winning the day. Stroud also broke the lap record at Wyndham with a 37.56-second effort on the 1.2km course. Though No.2 in the superbike class, Cole was the top rider in the Formula Two category.

Other overall winners at the Wyndham Street Race included Ashburton’s Bryan Hill in the Formula Three, and Dunedin’s Kane Bray in the BEARS. Auckland’s Gavin Veltmeyer won both Super Motard 1 trophies at Wyndham and Teretonga, with Winton’s Brent Scammell the Super Motard 450 champion.

In the older bike categories, Christchurch’s Kevin Orr was the champion in the pre-89 section with local rider Chris McMeeken the overall pre-82 champion.

Former Invercargill rider Jason Feaver (Honda), now of Christchurch, won the Bluff Hill Climb event on Thursday, ahead of Scammell.

In speedway racing on Saturday night, Fraser Gillespie and swinger David Uitentuis won the top prize as Russell Stuart and Andy Parker finished runners-up and Brent Tomkins and swinger Nigel Cuckow were third.

Grant Tregoning won the solo A class.

Other than the atrocious conditions on friday night, this was the best BMC to date, all in all 4 days of fun and motorcycling. Weather aside (hey, this is Invercargill) if theres a better rally anywhere with this amount of events, please let me know. Roll on 2010.