Le Mans 24 Hours – for Steve McQueen, and many others, a race like no other | Giles Richards

The legendary race, which starts on Saturday, captivated the American film star and the event’s obsessive attraction to the faithful shows no sign of waning

Among a vivid collection of childhood memories, Steve McQueen’s son Chad has one that is seared into his consciousness. His father was making the film Le Mans when he invited the 10-year-old to sit on his lap as he drove a Porsche 917 round the legendary circuit. “It burned into my heart and soul forever,” Chad says. “The sound, the smell, the violence of the acceleration. I remember it vividly – the moment that got me hooked on motor racing.”

McQueen Sr was already hooked and his Le Mans movie was the product of that obsession. Few in Hollywood understood it – they wanted another Bullitt but for anyone who has experienced this greatest of all races it makes perfect sense.

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