Wayne: The Wayne Gardner Story

Wayne‘ is the true story of 1987 World Motorcycle Champion Wayne Gardner’s triumphant journey from riding a five-dollar dirt bike to the international summit of motorcycle sport. The film is also a love story, with Wayne’s girlfriend, Donna-Lee Kahlbetzer, never far from the action.

Hailing from the working-class town of Wollongong in Australia, Wayne quickly excels in local motorcycle racing. After dropping out of high school and being fired from his tube-making apprenticeship, Wayne has to rely on his dogged determination to fulfil his dream.

Wayne’s bare-knuckle riding style catches the attention of Mamoru Moriwaki, leader of a Japanese team and engineer of almost mythical status. Never one to let an opportunity slide, Wayne accepts Moriwaki’s invitation to race in England and beyond.

Against all odds, Wayne wins his first race and permanently stamps his name on international motorcycle racing. However, like a fish out of water, the Australian is lost without his girlfriend Donna who is the cornerstone to his success. With Donna at his side, Wayne climbs the ranks of Grand Prix motorcycle racing quickly. But along with the fame and fortune comes tragedy and trauma and in the sophisticated world of Grand Prix, Wayne clashes with riders who are more calculated and refined than the larrikin kid from Wollongong.

Wayne fulfils his lifelong dream of becoming 500cc World Champion in 1987, however, his good fortune does not last long. Honda redesigns his championship-winning bike and Wayne quickly learns it is rife with mechanical problems. Things go from bad to worse when Honda signs Wayne’s arch nemesis, Yamaha rider Eddie Lawson, behind his back. Wayne is devastated by what he perceives as Honda’s betrayal. When Wayne arrives at the inaugural Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island, exhausted from a frenzy of media appearances and with the odds stacked against him, Wayne is inspired to perform at his best. With a roaring crowd of 100,000 urging him on, Wayne triumphantly wins the race and hearts of all Australians that day.

Success often means pushing oneself and those around you to the absolute limit. The attributes that allowed Wayne to be a world champion ultimately take their toll on his relationship with Donna, but the two remain close friends. Now, as determined as ever, Wayne supports his sons, Remy and Luca, as they begin their international motorcycle racing careers.


This study guide to accompany ‘Wayne’ has been written for secondary students in Years 10–12. It provides information and suggestions for learning activities in Australian History, English, Health and Physical Education, Media, and Sport and Recreation. ‘Wayne’ may be of interest to students completing TAFE certificate courses in the areas of Sport, Fitness and Recreation. As a curriculum resource, ‘Wayne’ expands and enriches students’ understanding of human experiences. Students can discuss how individuals with ambition and determination such as Wayne Gardner can make a difference in their life, in their chosen career and in the lives of others.

The activities within this study guide provide opportunities students to:

• share their responses to the story told by ‘Wayne’;
• engage in a detailed analysis of the film’s story and production elements;
• analyse the representation of ideas and attitudes in Wayne;
• develop and justify their own interpretations of Wayne;
• define how participation in sport can influence an individual’s sense of identity and belonging;
• develop a knowledge and understanding of motorcycle racing as a sport and Wayne Gardner’s contribution to this sport;
• use research skills and a range of primary and secondary sources to investigate subjects explored in the film;
• create a range of texts, make presentations and contribute actively to class and group discussions.

In addition, the empowering nature of the story told by ‘Wayne’ makes it a relevant resource for student welfare programs. It is important that students are provided with strategies to support their learning about themselves and others. Students with well-developed social and emotional skills find it easier to manage themselves, relate to others, develop resilience and a sense of self. Within this frame of reference, ‘Wayne’ provides opportunities for students to learn to:

• manage their emotions and behaviour;
• persevere in overcoming obstacles;
• set personal and academic goals;
• develop self-discipline, resilience, adaptability and initiative.

An ATOM Study Guide has been created for ‘Wayne: The Wayne Gardner Story’ and is available to download here.