Steve McQueen, More Than an Actor.
Steve McQueen and Motorcycle Racing
Terrence Steven McQueen was born on March 24, 1930 in Beech Grove, Indiana. During his acting days he became the “King of Cool” and starred in many notable movies. Steve McQueen loved cars and motorcycles, an avid collector of both. Some of you are aware that Steve McQueen raced motorcycles. If you didn't know, now you do. This answers part of what the title states. So what does ISDE mean? I'll get to that in a moment, so relax. For me Steve McQueen was more than an actor, he was a motorcycle racer. I started racing enduros in 1970 so I had something in common with him. McQueen was one of us; heading out to the desert once or twice a month to race in the dirt and the ever changing weather. He gave himself to the sport and we all understood his desire to do so.
International Six Day Enduro (ISDE)
Every year for six days riders from around the world compete in the International Six Day Enduro (ISDE). The first one was held in 1913 in Carlisle, England and has been going strong since. Only time this event has not been held is during World War I and II. Back then they called it "Trials" and in 1980 was changed to "Enduro". From its inception to 1973 it was always held in Europe and for the first time that year it ventured to the US. Since then it has been to Australia twice, USA, Brazil, New Zealand and Chili. This year’s ISDE is taking place in Portugal and in the year 2010 Mexico will host for the first time. This event can attract about 500 riders from 32 countries. This race is called the ‘Olympics of Motorcycling’ and the top 10% in their class will be given Gold Medals. The process to get too this point is a year long struggle. The riders must ride qualifiers throughout the country. I have known a few guys that have made it and it is not only a physical feat but an economical one too. A rider from California may have to drive to Michigan with his bike and gear to ride a qualifier.
Steve McQueen and Motorcycles
Let’s now turn our attention to the great actor Steve McQueen. For those that do not know this Steve was an excellent motorcycle rider. As a matter of fact he was damn good racer. If you ever get a chance to watch the old movie “On Any Sunday” do it. Steve had no problem holding his own with some great riders of the day. Steve McQueen was an enthusiast rider and supporter of the sport. His first dirt bike was a Triumph 500 and later would ride a Husqvarna which he rode in the movie ‘On Any Sunday’. The studio took notice and worried about their investment told him not to ride. Steve not being able to get enough riding in managed to get around this issue and continued to ride.
In 1964 Steve had been riding as much as he could and managed to get some qualifiers under his belt. A few years before Steve had watched some of the six day trials while on location for a movie. Now a few years later he had qualified to represent the USA in Germany in 1964. McQueen raced in many notable races such as the Baja 1000, Mint 400 and the Elsinore Grandprix. Some say he may have even ridden in one of our club enduros in the early 70’s under an assumed name. No one knows for sure it is just a rumor. We were for many years the number one club in the Los Angeles area so it is possible.
In 1971 Steve McQueen made it on the cover of Sport Illustrated pictured with his Husqvarna motorcycle. I remember wanting a motorcycle just like that because Steve McQueen rode one. I finally got one years later and not quite the same as the one he rode. McQueen was inducted to the Off-Road Hall of Fame in 1978. At the time of his death in November 1980 McQueen had 100 motorcycles he had collected. Steve McQueen added so much to the sport, his legacy will not be forgotten by those of us who have raced and enjoy motorcycles.
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