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Meet Burt Munro, an unknown, elderly New Zealander whose obsession with setting a world land-speed record at Bonneville on his ancient Indian motorcycle made him a Kiwi legend.

In 1967 an unknown, elderly New Zealander and his ancient Indian motorcycle set a world land-speed record at Bonneville. The man was Burt Munro, and he became a Kiwi legend. How did he do it? His amazing true story is now a stunning picture book.

A crowd of people stand on a flat white plain. In the distance, a snarling, roaring dark speck is hurtling towards them. It's a motorbike. The rider is inside the shell, lying almost flat. 'Go, Burt!'
The red bike blurs past.
Fingers click stop-watches.
How fast has Burt Munro gone this time?

The moment young Burt Munro saw a motorbike chugging down a quiet Invercargill street, he was hooked. More than fifty years later, he and his ancient Indian motorcycle would amaze the world by setting a land-speed record — one that remains unbroken to this day.
Burt didn’t have much money. He wasn’t young. But he was determined. And he became a Kiwi legend.

A wonderful true story about a very unlikely New Zealand champion, by the award-winning author and illustrator of First to the Top.


His stories are wonderful, full of action and are always teaching the reader about some aspect of our amazing country and our people.

Gisborne Herald

Start 'em young ... Although written for children aged 5-10, this Kiwi story of one man's obsession with speed will appeal to readers of all ages.

Classic Driver

A delightful picture book covering the basic facts about Burt Munro and his quest to race his Indian motor bike on the salt flats at Benneville in the USA. Phoebe Morris has captured the fun and quirkiness of this character in her superb and colourful illustrations showing a glimpse of life in the early to mid 20th century. David Hill has told Burt's story from where he grew up to the man in his sixties with humour and the sense of an ordinary Kiwi bloke with a passion that took over his life, and his success at an age when most are retiring. Highly recommended for all primary school libraries and as gifts for children.

Jenny Millar, Magpies

Speed King will delight teachers who aim to encourage the sort of boys who'd rather be racing around on their bikes than sitting in a classroom, to read. And girls, too - of course! Hill never leaves his sense of humour at home - why was it that the thought of Invercargill being invaded made me smile? - and this is a charming story celebrating those with attitude and tenacity ... I very much like Phoebe Morris's illustrative style, as well; the book is full of details that children could spend hours poring over. Lovely.

Linda Burgess, NZ Books

This true story of one of New Zealand's unlikely champions has been beautifully and humorously retold ... Little boys in particular will love this fast and furious story about the Kiwi who "always rode fast, even though he kept hurting himself".

Helen Spiers, Otago Daily Times

Hill crafts an insightful look at Munro’s life in Southland and his obsession with setting world speed records on the Bonneville Salt Flats in the United States. Hill keeps his prose simple, straightforward and punchy—perfect for younger readers who might be turned off by too much technical detail—but still manages to capture Munro’s singular vision. Phoebe Morris’ illustrative style gives the book a vintage feel in keeping with the times.

Graham Hepburn, Weekend Herald

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Formats & editions

  • Hardback


    August 1, 2016

    Picture Puffin

    32 pages

    RRP $25.00

    Online retailers

    • Mighty Ape
    • Paper Plus
    • The Warehouse
    • Whitcoulls
    • Fishpond
    • The Nile

    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

Awards and Recognition

  • Storylines Notable Non-fiction Award
    Notable Book
    Storylines Notable Book