Friday, July 14, 2017


In 1963, American cinematic actor Steve McQueen was cast in the film The Great Escape, directed by John Sturgess. McQueen did most of the motorcycle riding featured prominently in the film, although the movie is best remembered for the border fence job which was executed by American stuntman Bud Ekins (a good friend of McQueen’s). With a break in the shooting of the film that summer, Ekins trekked over to Czechoslovakia to participate in the ISDT (International Six Days Trial), clinching a gold medal upon doing so. Word got back to McQueen who was enraptured with the idea of creating a U.S. team to compete in the ISDT the following year.

With McQueen’s help, and from September 7 through September 12, 1964 in Efrut, East Germany, the American team, consisting of McQueen (Triumph TR6 750), Cliff Coleman (Triumph TR6 750), Bud Ekins and Dave Ekins (Triumph TR5 500s), formed the America Vase effort.

More at home in the desert of the American southwest, the Yankees struggled in the deep and gnarly East German mud, but soldiered on to earn respectable results. McQueen also impressed with his riding skill and speed, but was thwarted by crashes and mechanical issues. Even today, what McQueen did in 1964 to compete with the world’s best off-road riders is considered to be the stuff of motorcycle racing legend and folklore.

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