"In the late 1960s in Invercargill, two blokes sat in a modest shed drinking tea. The old bloke was telling stories about his life, the young bloke, a junior reporter, was typing on his portable typewriter. Dramatic tales of youthful scrapes, motorcycle races, international travel and friendships. The young journalist Neill Birss moved away from Invercargill and never published the typescript interviews. They surfaced again many decades later"
Apart from racing and Salt Lake experiences, this new book also brings stories of Burt’s early motorcycling adventures Southland, his 'prior' life in Australia in the 1920s and again in the early 1950s, and of the great moments on the road through the United States (which are only touched on in Donaldson's movie).
Early Kiwi motor-ventures cover Burt’s ride up the Hollyford Valley while the road was still being built, and therefore extremely treacherous, and as a salesman for H&J Tapper’s, riding his coal-gas powered one-speed flat out around the streets of Invercargill. ) bike powered by the coal-gas unit he built. And then there's explosion as a result of tempering steel at Melhop’s and another high-speed crash, this time at Teretonga.
Birss' plan was to write series of articles on Munro for overseas and New Zealand motorcycle magazine. But the project was interrupted when Birss moved to Christchurch and the notes, which had been taken in the first person, were lost. Then after the Christchurch earthquakes he was dumping rubbish to make room for repairs and he found the notes just as they were about to go into a skip and it was this collection that we now have. Maybe good things can come from bad, occasionally.
Neill Birss is a Christchurch business and technology reporter. As a young journalist in Invercargill he interviewed Burt Munro for a few months with the goal of writing a series of articles about Burt for overseas motorcycle magazines. Then he lost the interview material : until now. Birss rode an ex-army Indian motorcycle on a farm as a schoolboy, and much later commuted on a Honda road bike, but computers and electronics generally have long been his main technology interest.
Burt's Indian, with commentary by Jay Leno