By Bryan Harley, Cruiser Editor

A look into the life of a legend

With all the pomp and circumstance surrounding the recent unveiling of the 2015 Indian Chief, another revelation concerning the storied marque was made. Thirty-six years after his death, Burt Munro is still breaking records.

His astute son John realized a mathematical error was made on one of Burt’s runs. It was for the AMA Land Speed Record in Class S.A. 1000 on the Aug. 26, 1967, on the Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah. It was achieved on an Indian 953cc Fuel Streamliner. The old record was listed at 183.586 mph.

When asked how he came upon this revelation, here’s what John said:

“Well, I’ll show you. That’s a copy of the original, North and South, OK? Now I was looking at that a couple of months ago and I said, that doesn’t add out. So I got a calculator and put them in, and the average speed that they’ve got in there is wrong, a half-mile out. So I called AMA and spoke to the guy there and he said, ‘Well, we don’t make mistakes.’ So I sent him a copy because I’ve got the original at home. I scanned it and sent it to him and said, now do your sum. So, two days ago, I got that. So, he’s dead for 36 years and he just broke another record!”

The “that” John was referring to was a certificate from the AMA listing the new time of 184.087 mph as the record. This is the average of Munro’s North Run of 184.710 mph and his South Run of 183.463 mph. John noted that they didn’t use calculators back in the day, and this was a simple case of mathematical error.

John was in Sturgis as the special guest of the Indian Motorcycle Co. who invited him out to help celebrate the unveiling of the new Scout. In addition to sharing his story about the updated land speed record, John brought a wealth of Burt’s personal possessions to share with us. This included a trophy with an inscription that read “World’s Fastest Indian” which sparked the idea for the title of the movie. From a worn leather bag he pulled out two hand-cast pistons, immaculately crafted. There was a hand-carved streamliner, painted Indian Red of course, with a little post on it Munro would use as a hood ornament to test aerodynamics. He showed us the Nevada Bank of Commerce bag used in the movie with a small journal Munro kept full of handwritten notes – secrets to his ability to go fast. Then there was a priceless family album, full of photos of prototypes he built, newspaper clippings from his record-breaking runs, and pictures of his family growing up.

Thanks for sharing, John.