Australian motorbike racing legend Wayne Gardner may have traded our shores for a life in Barcelona, but you can tell he’s still a boy from the ‘Gong.
The Wollongong Wiz, responsible for bringing the 500cc Motorcycle Grand Prix to Phillip Island, visited the Illawarra Mercury this week to promote the release of a new documentary about his career, Wayne.
“It’s been a recap of my life again, gone back over it and brought back a lot of good memories – good and bad,” the former steelworker said in his distinct Aussie tone.
Gardner was joined by the film’s director Jeremy Sims and ex-wife Donna Forbes, who also features heavily throughout.
“I wasn't thinking that when I went in to this I was going to be featured as much as I was,” Forbes said. “When you look up on the big screen and you see yourself talking about something, it churned up a lot of emotions, it was very emotional – the first time I saw it I was physically sick.”
Watching the end product was also a tough experience for Gardner, he too admitting there was anxiety and tears.
Wayne features interviews with legends from the sport’s “golden age” including Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey, Mick Doohan and Kevin Schwantz. It chronicles Gardner’s life from his first dirt bike purchase for five dollars through to the pinnacle of the sport, with Forbes never far from his side.
“I could have easily made a doco called Wayne and Donna, and that would have been a very different documentary and… more like Macbeth and Lady Macbeth and how they got to the top,” Sims said.
The pair met at teenagers, dated for 11 before marrying in 1989 – though the marriage only lasted five years. They said a “prenuptial agreement” written on the back of a paper serviette (of which Forbes still has) is how they remained friends.
“It was a huge part of my life and I was sad to lose that … it was really, really hard to move on from that life,” Forbes said of the gallant lifestyle. “I didn’t tear him to pieces in the divorce, I didn’t see the point, he had always been very kind and generous to me all those years so we just walked away.”
Gardner admitted he used to be a “wild one” (booze and women included) and Forbes was always the one to reign him back in.
There are moments in time each of the trio would have liked to include in the feature documentary but they were confined to a film that ran under 100 minutes. Though ll agreed Wayne was not just a story about bikes.
“It’s not just aimed at petrol heads,” Forbes said. “It’s a real inspirational story, it’s aimed at little people who can look up and say ‘I can do this’.”
Wayne is released to cinemas on September 6.