Steve McQueen was a real life racing fanatic, and Le Mans was supposed to be his cinematic dream come true. But the movie left him with bitter feelings and lasting emotional dents in his armor. There were conflicts with directors, personal excesses, budget woes, a war with the studio, a shutdown, months of delays, an unfortunate accident that left one driver without a leg, and rumors that the production company hushed up the death of a second unit crew member. In one fell swoop, McQueen ended a 15-year marriage, severed ties with his longtime agent and producing partners, did away with his production company and lost a personal fortune, not to mention control of the passion project he had planned to make for over a decade.
It has taken me years to understand and digest the complex phenomenon of Le Mans, which decades after its crash-landing at the box office and savaging by critics has finally found its vindication and the approbation its star dreamed of before things took such a wrong turn when the cameras started rolling. Steve McQueen would be blown away to see that Le Mans has left an indelible legacy in the auto racing world and movie industry.
Publisher: Dalton Watson
Authors: Don Nunley with Marshall Terrill