If you are an avid fan of all things motorbike, then there is a good chance that you have seen most motorbike and racing themed films. But did you know that David Essex appeared in a film about a motorbike racing novice!
In the nineteen seventies it was not uncommon for stars of the pop world to make the jump to the big screen by appearing in films. This was not always a great success, the Bay City Rollers appointment springs to mind but there are others that go the other way, such as David Bowie and even Slade with their Slade in Flame film. One Pop heart throb who took the plunge is another David this one with the surname Essex. Clad in Summer Biker Clothing he starred in a low budget film about the perils of trying one's hand at the exciting world of superbikes. He was the rider of the Silver Dream Machine and he was the Silver dream racer.
It's not the best film in the world but it does feature a time that will never come again in British 500cc racing namely that a privateer can come along wearing one of their hot weather biker jackets and simply enter a bike and see what happens. The story goes that David Essex plays Nick Freeman the rather cocky and bolshy younger brother to a bike racer. The older brother has developed a super-fast bike that will blow the other racers away. Sadly, he is killed before he can do this, so the younger Freeman picks up the handlebars and decides to carry on the legacy. There then follows a very lengthy period where the young Nick fails to get any sponsorship for his endeavours and slowly he starts to alienate his friends and family including his girlfriend but eventually he gets the backing he needs and goes to the British Superbikes Grand Prix.
Naturally some of the other professional riders are a little bit miffed that this jumped up Mechanic can just come in and enter with a mega fast bike that is way move superior to the ones that the regular makes such as Ducatti, Honda and Yamaha’s designers have all failed to spot. The American rider Bruce McBride played by Beau Bridges, the oldest son of Lloyd and the brother of Jeff is one such rider who is not happy at Freeman entering the race. McBride is keen to win at any cost and he is the complete opposite to the British sense of fair play and generally wins everything in sight whilst flouting the rules. McBride, in typical American fashion, is a winner and to rub it in he wears a lot of racing leathers with stars and stripes on it, just in case you forget he is an American.
Luckily, sense prevails and despite the mental and physical intimidation of the American and a dodgy fitted wheel David Essex’s Freeman crosses the line for a win and he stands up on the moving bike to acknowledge the crowd. Or least that’s one ending, the happy ending. I must have seen a pre- production version because when I watched it the bike wheel gave out and our Freeman crashed into the barrier whilst the others rolled by.