Mike Hailwood was something of an anomaly in the racing world. While he started off racing motorcycles, he transitioned to car racing (including Formula One) later on in his life before making a triumphant two-wheeled return 11 years later. Now, Eric Bana—an actor known for his work in The Time Traveler’s Wife and 2003's Hulk—is writing a screenplay for a new Hollywood film about Mike the Bike’s last TT run.
As per Motorsport.com, Bana isn’t concerned with a biopic of Hailwood’s entire life so much as he want to highlight the wheelman’s return to motorcycle racing.
In 1968, Hailwood unceremoniously retired from motorcycle racing after Honda pulled out of competition and paid him a retainer fee so that he wouldn’t race for another team. He took part in a handful of events every now and then, but it wasn’t until 1978 that Hailwood made a significant return.
His comeback at the Isle of Man TT race in 1978—widely regarded as the most difficult motorcycle racing event in the world—became the stuff of legends. No one expected Hailwood to actually be competitive, and he still went on to win the race on a Ducati 900S in the Formula I category.
Hailwood did some riding for a few years, retiring for good at the age of 39 after the 1979 Isle of Man TT event. He set up his own motorcycle dealership, but retirement was nowhere close to bliss for Hailwood. He was killed in a road accident in 1981.
Bana revealed on the Rusty’s Garage podcast that he’s been working on the screenplay with the help of Hailwood’s widow Pauline and the consent of the family.
“I’ve been working on the screenplay for the last couple of years, and it is essentially the story of Mike’s comeback. I’m not looking to tell the story of his life. It’s a very particular idea that I have that I’d like to pursue,” he said.
“We feel that indebted to the Hailwood family, in particular Pauline, who unfortunately recently passed away. Her contribution has been immense.””
Bana admitted that there’s currently no set timeline for the film. Initial hopes saw the movie going into production in 2021, but the coronavirus pandemic has put a hold on just about all film production at the moment. Bana nevertheless sounds confident that the the project will come to fruition sooner rather than later.
“[The delay] doesn’t change the desire, it doesn’t change the kind of film that I want to make, it doesn’t change the pitch that I gave to the Hailwood family. All those things remain intact. The script won’t change. We’ll just do everything we can to turn it into an actual movie rather than just a chance,” he said.
In the meantime, check out the book Mike the Bike - Again: The Story of Mike Hailwood’s Return to the TT by Hailwood’s manager and friend Ted Macauley.