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Steve McQueen: Racer and Actor. In that order.

The King of Cool, Steve McQueen, always said that he was a racer first and an actor second. Here are several images of him with the love of his life. Motorcycles.

With Jacqueline Bisset

With Jacqueline Bisset

A true motorhead, McQueen had a vast collection of motorcycles and cars. He also custom built his own version of a scrambler that was featured in a mid ‘60s issue of Popular Mechanics. Drawing from his experience, he built his dirt bike as he was fond of racing in the desert.

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Steve McQueen parlayed his interest in various movies he made. He wanted to do the stunt driving as much as possible, without getting the ire of studio executives. On the times he was allowed, he did most of the motorcycle stunts himself as much as it was allowed. Although that immortal motorcycle jump scene in the movie “The Great Escape” was done by a stuntman, McQueen did most of the minor stunts and chase scenes. In one scene, he was “chasing “ himself, thanks to quick costume changes and excellent editing.

During the shoot of "The Great Escape" in a Triumph cycle, disguised as a WWll BMW

During the shoot of “The Great Escape” in a Triumph cycle, disguised as a WW2 BMW.

He was also into cars. He wanted the Mustang that his character drove to have mag wheels. He was still a kid to say the least. Once during a lull in the shooting of “Bullit”, he and his good friend Bud Ekins, “borrowed” the Mustang and Charger for a joy ride around a San Francisco racetrack. This infuriated the executives and banned them from using the cars during the remainder of the shoot. Subsequent race car movies include “The Reivers” and the infamous 24 hour race drama “Le Mans”.

Studio Publicity Still from "Bullitt" Steve McQueen 1968 Warner / Seven Arts

Studio Publicity Still from “Bullitt” Steve McQueen 1968 Warner / Seven Arts

 

A version of the Movie Poster for Le Mans

A version of the Movie Poster for Le Mans

 

Subsequently, He and his Bud Ekins teamed up for several off-road motorcycle race in the US. Using modified Triumphs, they were successful in their effort, reaching the highest of 3rd place in one race

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Steve McQueens License

Steve McQueens Motorcycle Racing License

Terence Steven McQueen was born on March 24, 1930 in Beech Grove, Indiana. His father, William Terence McQueen, a stunt pilot for a barnstorming flying circus, left McQueen’s mother, Julia Ann (née Crawford), six months after meeting her.

On November 7, 1980, McQueen died of cardiac arrest at 3:45 a.m. at a Mexico clinic, 12 hours after surgery to remove or reduce numerous metastatic tumors in his neck and abdomen. He was 50 years old.

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Images: Vintage News, Wikipedia