Thousands of visitors are descending on Invercargill for the 2013 Burt Munro Challenge, which starts today. More than 25,000 people are expected to watch the racing through to Sunday.
Early arrivals have secured prime spots at “tent city” at Oreti Park, the venue for the challenge. Greymouth couple Kenny Williams and Lesley Polatsek, said they were looking forward to the country’s best motorcycle rally. Motorcycling was more than a hobby for the couple, it was a way of life. Between them, they have owned almost 40 motorcycles, all of them Harley Davidsons.
“I’m onto my 31st Harley Davidson,” Mr Williams said while setting up camp. His partner said she was only onto her eighth Harley. The couple have not missed the challenge since it was first held in 2006. Mr Williams said he competed in the speedway in the first year but had since given up racing. However, a part of him would always remain on the Oreti Speedway track.
“I lost the top half of my finger in a crash that first year,” he smiled, holding up his hand. He got top treatment from Southland Hospital staff and has continued to enjoy Southland hospitality since. He said the Burt Munro Challenge was “awesome and I can’t ever tell enough people how well organised and well run it is”.
The speedway event was still the highlight of the challenge, he said. While Mr Williams shares his love of motorcycles with his partner, it is a little different for central North Island man Andrew Williams. Mr Williams and his friend Richard Baddeley arrived from Taihape, with Mr Williams acquiring a new bike between leaving home on Monday and arriving in Invercargill.
He said he was not sure his wife would understand his decision to get a new model. However, he put the blame squarely on his mate’s shoulders. “His Harley sprung an oil leak in Christchurch on the way down and the Ducati store was right next door,” he explained. Mr Williams’ new Ducati was the same colour as the old one he traded in, so Mr Williams “was sure his wife would not notice”.
The four-day event has attracted a record 530 entries.
10am race start: NZ Hill Climb Champs, at Flagstaff Rd, Bluff.
6pm race start: NZ Super Cross Champs – Final, at the Cooper Super Cross Track, Ryan Rd, Winton.
5pm race start: ILT NZ Beach Racing Champs, at Oreti Beach.
9am race start: E Hayes & Sons Teretonga Sprint Races, at Teretonga Raceway, Otatara, Invercargill.
5pm race start: Motorcycle Speedway, at Oreti Park Speedway, Otatara, Invercargill.
9.30am start: Southland Toy Run, at the Oreti Park rally site, Otatara.
10am race start: Wyndham Street Races.