ONE of the founders of the Burt Munro Challenge (BMC) has died.
A member of the Southland Motorcycle Club (SMCC) which hosts the annual four-day motorcycle rally, Wayne Affleck was not only one of the driving forces behind the successful event, but also the chairman of the challenge.
Grown from a simple idea, the challenge is now arguably New Zealand’s largest all-round motorcycle rally which takes in a hill climb up Bluff Hill, circuit races, speedway and street racing, as well as the iconic beach race along Oreti Beach. This year, drag racing was added to the mix.
About 600 competitors, and their crews, take part in the rally, as well as 1500 to 2000 motorcyclists over the six-race events, which can also attract about 25,000 spectators over the four days.
Mr Affleck knew all those places. He, like Burt Munro, was a motorcyclist first, before he became chairman of the challenge.
SMCC president and BMC committee member Andy Underhay paid tribute to the giant not only in stature, but also in spirit.
Even before the conception of the Burt Munro Challenge, Mr Affleck was part of the brainstorming of ideas, he said.
At that time, more than 15 years ago, there was a lot of talk about hosting a street race, which led to the idea of the Burt Munro Challenge, Mr Underhay said.
“But before that, Wayne was an active racer and rider, which he only gave up about five years ago.”
Speed, noise and action – “drags, street, hill, circuit… he’s been there, he’s done that”.
Although many consider the Burt Munro Challenge to be an overnight success, it took a lot of belief and hard work, especially when others were less inclined to think it would succeed. Mr Affleck was consistent and persistent, Mr Underhay said.
“I say it was an overnight success which took 12 years.”
“He [Mr Affleck] held great importance for the Burt Munro Challenge to keep the Burt rolling when others were less likely to believe it would.
“We all have a huge respect for the huge support he gathered.”
Mr Affleck’s wife, Bronwyn, was also hugely supportive of him and the challenge, Mr Underhay said.
“The volume of work they had taken on had been huge.”
As well as his immense work with the challenge, throughout his years at the motorcycle club Mr Affleck had undertaken various roles, including as a committee member.
Not only did Mr Affleck “have a great passion for the sport, he also helped fellow racers, especially with his engineering business”, Mr Underhay said.
Asked what Mr Affleck’s legacy in regard to the challenge would be, Mr Underhay said because of his advocacy and publicity for the Burt and Southland, he was going to leave a big, vocal gap.
A service to celebrate Mr Affleck’s life will be held at J Fraser and Sons’ Chapel, on the corner of Esk and Doon Sts, Friday August 10, at 2pm.