Founder of Munro challenge dies

Wayne Affleck
Wayne Affleck
One of the founders, and chairman, of the Burt Munro Challenge (BMC), Wayne Affleck, has died.

A member of the Southland Motorcycle Club (SMCC) which hosts the annual four-day motorcycle rally in Invercargill, Mr Affleck (60) owned an engineering firm in Invercargill.

He died unexpectedly last Friday, after a medical event.

The Burt Munro Challenge is arguably New Zealand's largest all-round motorcycle rally, taking in a hill climb up Bluff Hill, circuit races, speedway and street racing, as well as the 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.

Southland Motorcycle Club president and challenge committee member Andy Underhay paid tribute to Mr Affleck, who was involved in brainstorming the challenge right from the idea's inception more than 15 years ago.

''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 considered 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, and Mr Affleck was consistent and persistent, Mr Underhay said.

''He [Mr Affleck] ... kept 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 very supportive of him and the challenge, Mr Underhay said.

''The volume of work they had taken on had been huge.''

Mr Affleck had also undertaken various roles with the club over the years, including as a committee member.

He would 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 in Invercargill, tomorrow at 2pm.

- By Janette Gellatly

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