When not racing, Martin (34) was at his happiest at his day job as a truck mechanic despite constantly being asked to front various TV programmes, including Top Gear, and taking part in various race meets, BMC street racing organiser Garry Jamieson said.
‘‘He’s hot property — the hottest thing on the planet. He is a motorbike legend and constantly gets various offers each day and has millions of followers. He’s a global phenomenon.’’
Jamieson said it had taken three years of negotiations between himself and Bike Rider NZ Magazine editor Kevin Kingham, and Martin and his team, to get to this stage.
‘‘I kept reading about him in various motorbike magazines, especially his tie-up with racing on the Isle of Man since 1998 where he has had 15 podium finishes.
‘‘I said to Kevin, ‘how do we go about getting Guy Martin to Burt Munro?’ Kevin said he would make some inquiries, and it started from there,’’ Jamieson said.
‘‘It’s been a slow process, but the clincher was us offering to bring out his own personal motorbike [his home-built Suzuki GSX-R1100 turbo charged 320 horsepower] for the Bluff Hill Climb.’’
Confirmation came by text, Jamieson said.
‘‘He said, ‘I’m up for it’.’’
Martin’s appearance is being sponsored by Scott and Jocelyn O’Donnell, of Bill Richardson Transport World, and Bike Rider NZ Magazine.
‘‘He’s pretty well-known in motorcycling circles… It’s an absolute coup for the Burt Munro and also for Invercargill,’’ Mrs O’Donnell said.
Despite breaking his back twice in racing accidents, Martin has set world and British speed records in a variety of human and engine-powered vehicles, including fastest hovercraft in 2014 and highest speed on a wall of death this year. He also competes in mountain biking.
Martin has visited New Zealand once before, participating in the Whanganui street races two years ago.
Jamieson said having Martin at Burt Munro raised the event to ‘‘a level we have never had before’’.
As well as competing, Jamieson said he hoped the visit would also be an opportunity for Martin to chill out and just enjoy being in Southland.
‘‘We really want him to have a really great time and bring his friends. They are the elite of the motorbike world.’’ Í Burt Munro Challenge, Thursday, November 24, to Sunday, November 27. Competitor and spectator registrations open tomorrow. For more information go to www. burtmunrochallenge.co.nz.