JUST REPRINTED FOR MOVIE VERSION FEATURING SIR ANTHONY HOPKINS
An avid racer and restorer of cars and motorcycles for decades, Mr Begg can also "write a bit", and his latest book, Burt Munro: Indian Legend of Speed, tells of a fellow Southland-born hero who even in his 70s took on the world's best on two wheels.
He did so on a much modified 1920 Indian Scout of all things, which almost half a century after its birth was putting out six times its original power and going beyond 320kmh.
Begg tells of the inevitable engine blow-ups as Munro's typical Kiwi binder-twine high-tech was used to extract more and more horsepower out of his Indian Vee-twin.
Munro would cast his own pistons - chilling them by dashing out to the water butt - and fettle his machine to such a peak that it would out pace more modern Harley-Davidson mounts at the famous Bonneville salt flats.
Assiduous research by the author has unearthed much about Burt Munro's annual forays to Utah, when he would often drive from Los Angeles or even Seattle to be the first on the flats for speed week.
While Munro's Indian was never directly sponsored, a measure of the respect and affection with which the Southlander was held in the US was the alacrity with which the land speed community would lend cars, trailers, workshops, and beds for the night.
Waitresses in a diner used by salt flats regulars during the speed season noticed that Munro ate cheaply and poorly by American standards and took it upon themselves to gather a princely $US350 to help him out.
The bike may have been in its 40s when Munro competed on it to a raft of American national motorcycle speed records, but the man himself was in his late 60s.
Munro continued to ride the streamlined Indian to success with salt-burned eyes, grazed shoulders, and bruised hips from several thankfully low-speed tumbles, as well as the kind of exhaust burns that have stopped heavily sponsored and much younger speedsters.
Munro wasn't without an ego but George Begg tells us that it was never offensive, and that he was well-liked, even loved wherever he went.
George Begg's book isn't perfect. A few misspelled names and missing possessives have made their way past the proof readers, and the absence of original prints give some of the pictures a moire plaid. But the content often thrills and is never dull.