It’s mostly common knowledge in this car culture of ours that the Bonneville Salt Flats are where legends are made. While the area itself might not look like much, it’s been the testing ground for speed-driven adrenaline junkies since the earliest years of the 20th century. While you can find plenty of documentaries following a driver or team’s determination to make their name known with their own speed record, I haven’t come across as many fictionalized retelling of their stories. But this here’s a goodie, The World’s Fastest Indian.
The 2005 film, stars Sir Anthony Hopkins (our ‘90s cannibalistic hero) as New Zealand motorcycle racer Burt Munro, who earned himself a world record for the fastest under-1000cc speed record on a 1920 Indian, back in 1967. The film follows the old man, who is in his late 60s by this time, as he prepares his hog for a chance to set a record in America.
You can’t help but feel for the poor guy as he fumbles through American culture and finds himself taken advantage of on several occasions just to realize his dream. But he somehow bounces back every time, making it to Bonneville, and well, you know how this ends — but I’ll let you watch the rest.
Plus, watching Hopkins play a semi-crazy old guy that swears by peeing on his own lemon tree, kicking off on this ancient bike to reach over 100 mph is satisfying in its own sick way.
I’m not aware of knowledgable in all of the details behind Munro’s actual run, but I will say Hopkins played him in a rightly way as to entice me to want to learn more. Plus, when you sell all of your earthly goods and possessions to make your dreams come true, you just have to appreciate the work that goes into something like that.
Oh, and as of today — 55 years later in August — Munro’s land speed record on what was an over 40-year-old Indian motorcycle still stands.
You can watch The World’s Fastest Indian on Amazon Prime.