Burt Munro/Duncan Meikle 1936 Velocette drag bike fires up on video

Dailies -


berts_velo.jpgPhoto: Deus Ex Machina

Before Burt Munro built the world’s fastest Indian, he was an active racer in his native New Zealand. This custom Velocette was built in collaboration with fellow bike nut Duncan Meikle for the purposes of drag racing. We first showed it to you last week as part of a collection of bikes being auctioned by Webbs. Now, Neil from Webbs has been nice enough to fire the bike up and shoot video just for us.

Note the hot water bottle serving as a fuel tank, Burt wore something
similar on his chest, and, while in a full racing tuck, squeezed it
against the frame with his body for added pressure.

This particular machine was actually crashed by Burt while racing
against a couple of local upstarts. Meikle and Munro were at the local
Teretonga race circuit near Invercargill practicing standing quarter
mile starts. Munro decided to give a couple of young fellows a good
head start and an even better beating, screaming past the surprised
young men and giving them a wave bye-bye to boot. Unfortunately this
sent the Velo into nasty tank slap and, within a fraction, Munro had
bailed and the velo was twisted metal, 30 feet in the air and rising.
As the machine churned down the beach, so did Munro.

Cut to: Meikle visiting Munro’s mother and informing her of the
unfortunate accident. Meikle’s words, as captured by an interview,
were: “I have come to report on Burt; he had a bit of an accident
yesterday”. “Oh,” she said, “Serious?” “Well no,” said Duncan, “a few
pounds of meat were ground off and a broken arm.” The next query from
Mrs. Munro was: “I suppose it was on that motorcycle”. “Yes,” said
Duncan. “That foolish Herbert; when will he ever give up those
motorcycles?!” Mrs. Munro was 84 years old, Bert was 60! The extent of
his injuries had him laid up in hospital for two months.

This exact bike is actually on auction right now at Webbs. If we had any money, we’d buy it ourselves.

  • Robert

    That machine sounds like pure sex.

  • http://deus.com.au Carby

    SOLD. To the highest bidder last night in Auckland for NZ$78,000.- Lets hope it ends up back on the beaches of the South Island attempting to take its own record back.

    • Neil Campbell

      Carby is definitely potential pilot material

  • John Munro

    Wrong bike!!! Never owned by Dad.

    • Neil campbell

      That’s right – it was worked on by both Duncan Meikle and Burt Munro- the set up was also sold with one of Burt Munro’s short stroke Velo’s – its great piece of kit, a real celebration of classic kiwi innovation that was driven by two life long friends, like all true race machines it has plenty of mixed DNA, but at its core the machine reflects the ideas and concepts Munro and Meikle were pursuing – go faster go harder. The other Velo was also worked on by Meikle. – perhaps we can set up a race between the two existing velo’s. From the records it seems the Duncan/Meikle set up was consistently faster than the other machine. Ridden in 1964 by Neil Neilson set a New Zealand record on it. All good.

  • thomashenny


  • http://artistruth.livejournal.com will

    Astonishing noise. Music.

  • http://www.raymondadams.net Raymond Adams

    “Note the hot water bottle serving as a fuel tank, Burt wore something similar on his chest.”
    That’s dedication! Ingenious! Amazing.
    Thanks for the great article.

  • vintageguy

    Why doesent the Video exist any more?