The Great Race Track in The Sky

Posted on March 10, 2012

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This post is part of Hollywood Over Comet’s blogathon, Gone Too Soon.  I haven’t blogged in over 6 months but Jessica, my girlfriend and author of COH, sort of twisted my arm into writing something for her blogathon.

So here we are, writing about classic film on a car blog.  Thankfully the topic for her blogathon was actors and actresses who died under the age of 50 so I can sit here and blather on about my man-crush on Steve Mcqueen who passed away at age 50 in 1980.

McQueen was the quintessential man’s actor.  All of his characters are complete badasses who oozed a collected coolness that every man envies.  The kicker is that McQueen wasn’t too unlike his characters in real life.

He smoked, he drank, he drove fast cars and rode motorcycles.  Women wanted him, men wanted to be him.

There’s the greatest car chase in the world from Bullitt(1968), the motorcycle chase in The Great Escape(1963) where McQueen, thanks to some crafty editing, actually chases himself while dressed as a German biker, and his documentary Le Mans(1971).

Le Mans is probably my favourite McQueen film.  It’s simple, honest, and direct.  As a story driven film it’s not that great.  As a piece of motorsport history it’s stunning.  For someone like me who could be lulled to sleep by the idle of a Ford Flathead and who cried during the Audi propaganda film documentary Truth in 24 (2009), the movie is perfect.

It is finding the apex of every corner.  It is man vs man vs machine.  It is sweat and blood and grease and oil.

It is racing.

So, in memory of Steve, the man who I want to be, I leave you with this short behind the scenes clip from The Thomas Crown Affair (1968).  As he talks about designing and driving a Corvair powered Manx dune buggy I can almost smell that air cooled engine.

It smells like the Volkswagen I just finished working on.  Steve, I wish you had been here to help.

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Posted in: Movies