Wayne Gardner’s story truly is rags to riches. Or, perhaps we should say wrecks to riches. A young working-class larrikin from Wollongong, he “went halves on a five-dollar motorcycle” from a local junkyard, and by his twenties was in Europe racing bikes for top teams. It’s an unlikely trajectory: from New South Wales to glittering Monte Carlo.
Despite not having the most inspiring title, Wayne is a documentary full of brashness, brio and old-fashioned Antipodean grit. It tracks his career from his hot-headed early days when he “pisses people off deliberately”, to 1987 when “the Wollongong Whiz” claimed the 500cc Motorcycle World Championship, and culminates in his triumphal homecoming victory in 1989, securing his status as a local hero.
We get the usual talking-head interviews and much archive race footage – the flickering and grainy visuals of the era providing the same kind of nostalgic thrill that powered Senna, still the high-water mark for motorsport documentaries.
Throughout, a curious subplot emerges of Gardner’s bond with longtime partner (now ex-wife) Donna Forbes. At first, she seems to be totally devoted to the racer, a mere cheerleader, until, at one point, at the peak of his success, she tells Gardner to pull his head in. He can only reply, “Yes boss!” Their relationship turns out to be one of the most endearing parts of this rebellious biography.
IN CINEMAS NOW