| 18.5°C Belfast

Queen's University engineers bid to emulate 1967 land speed record of World's Fastest Indian


Burt Munro with his beloved Indian motorbike.

Burt Munro with his beloved Indian motorbike.

Sam Marsden in the prototype for Project Velocity

Sam Marsden in the prototype for Project Velocity


Burt Munro with his beloved Indian motorbike.

A team of young engineers from Queen's University is appealing to Northern Ireland firms to help them break a land speed record with a motorcycle.

Burt Munro's exploits were the inspiration for the 2005 firm The World's Fastest Indian, starring Anthony Hopkins, which told the tale of how the New Zealander's highly modified Indian Scout motorcycle helped him set numerous land speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah in the late 1950s and into the 1960s.

Now a team from Belfast is hoping to break his 1967 record and take their specially designed vehicle to the same location next August with a target of 230-250mph.

They plan to incorporate Munro's name and his record speed in the name of the vehicle to ensure his memory lives on. Sam Marsden, who is no stranger to adversity, is spearheading the challenge and said that the story of Munro had helped inspire him to follow a career in engineering.

He watched the movie with his mum, dad and three sisters – who all ride motorbikes – when he was 17.

The 'Project Velocity' team, which has launched a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign, also includes Connor Morgan, Josh Logan, Ross Blair and Stephen Hackworth.

Sam's story is especially inspiring, as he was diagnosed with severe dyslexia when he was 10, and was told that the best job he could hope for was to be a binman. However, inspired by the late professor of engineering Gordon Blair, he secured a place at Queen's University Belfast to study mechanical engineering and is now part of a group of undergraduate students aiming to design a "full fairing streamliner" which they aim to take to the Bonnevile Salt Flats next summer.

Weekly Business Digest

Margaret Canning’s selection of the must-read business stories straight to your inbox every Tuesday morning

This field is required

For the first time ever, Queen's University has accepted the "student idea" as an official project to be completed as part of the mechanical engineering degree.

While Queen's University has been able to fund the project prototype, due to limited budget and resources, the team now has to seek the funds that are needed to bring the land speed record to Northern Ireland.

"We aim to prove that given the opportunity we can excel and prove ourselves as exceptional and innovative engineers with the skills to be the engineers of tomorrow," said Sam, who actively encourages partitipation in the Stem subjects – science, technology, engineering and maths – among local schoolchildren.

"We aim to place Northern Ireland, the team, young engineers, Queen's University and the sponsors on the map.

"Engineering has a special place in Northern Ireland history and is at the heart of everything we do and every product we use.

"We want to put Northern Ireland engineering in the spotlight and show the importance and value of careers in manufacturing and engineering."