I was a child when Steve McQueen was at his peak, both as an actor and a motorcyclist. As green as I was, I knew “cool” when I saw it, and McQueen was the embodiment of cool.
Let’s take a quick look back at the iconic actor and AMA Hall of Famer. McQueen’s acting career spanned from the late ’50 into ‘70s. At his peak, he was the highest paid actor in Hollywood. McQueen was part of two of the quintessential motorcycle movie scenes of all time. He rode a 1961 Triumph TR6 Trophy in the famous escape scene in “The Great Escape” (though a stunt double made the final jump). He also played on the beach on his Husqvarna with his buddies Mert Lawwill and Malcolm Smith in the closing scene of the1971 motorcycle documentary “On Any Sunday." Take a look below for video clips of both scenes.
McQueen was not just a motorcyclist on the silver screen. He raced in the 1964 International Six Day Trials in Germany. He was also a regular on the West Coast racing scene, having competed in the Baja 1000, the Mint 400 and the Elsinore Grand Prix in the ’60s and ‘70s. He was inducted posthumously into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999.
Next time you see Pitt or Cruise riding around Tinseltown on a motorcycle, think about the true Moto-acting icon, Steve McQueen. Classic Cool indeed!