It was a time when racing was dangerous and sex was safe. In the 70s, in the 500 cc Motorcycle Grand Prix, one name stood head and shoulders above the others, Barry Sheene. Based on the book by Steve Parrish and Nick Harris, Barry: The Story of Motorcycling Legend Barry Sheene, IO Films Australia and Deep Spring Pictures UK are bringing Sheene’s story to the big screen with the movie Sheene which is currently under development.

A product of his time, and contemporary of James Hunt, whose equally colourful life and racing career was captured by the movie Rush, Sheene was world motorcycle champion in 1976 and 1977. Carrying his trademark racing number seven and a caricature of Donald Duck on his helmet, Sheene was extremely popular with the public and the tabloid press, and even more so with the ladies.

Two high-speed crashes, at well over 270 km/h, broke a total of 67 bones in his body. The first, at Daytona in 1975, left him with a broken left thigh, right arm, collarbone and two ribs, but Sheene was back on the bike and racing seven weeks later. The second crash at Silverstone in 1982 crushed his legs, and led to the press referring to him as “the Bionic Man”, with pictures of his x-rays becoming front page news.

Sheene retired from racing in 1984, and moved to Australia with his family, where he commented on motorsport and went into business as a property developer. Sheene passed away in 2003 at the age of 52 from cancer of the oesophagus and stomach.