Snapshot, 1963: 500 miles with Steve McQueen and Bud Ekins

500 miles can be a long haul, especially on two wheels through the barren Californian desert. It is therefore advisable to take some entertaining companions along for the ride. How about Bud Ekins and Steve McQueen?

John Dominis snapped this shot of the two Hollywood heroes in 1963, during a motorcycle endurance race across the Mojave Desert in California. That’s Steve McQueen on the right, and Bud Ekins on the left tilting into the corner. The rider in the centre remains unknown. Ekins was one of the most famous stuntmen of his generation. He was often McQueen’s stunt double – in ‘The Great Escape’, he jumped the Triumph TR6 over the barbed-wire fence, and in ‘Bullitt’ he drifted the Ford Mustang through the streets of San Francisco. He also successfully competed in motorcycle racing, and occasionally at the helm of even bigger machines – trucks, for example, in the notorious Mint 400 and Stardust 7-11 desert races. Ekins and McQueen were great friends, until the latter’s death in 1980. 

Photo: John Dominis/Time Life Pictures/Getty Images

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