Rich Rohrich

Moderator / BioHazard
Jul 27, 1999
We've lost another motorcycle icon. On October 6, Bud Ekins passed away. In a story about him someone once wrote "at one time in America, every man wanted to be Steve McQueen. Except Steve McQueen. He wanted to be Bud Ekins."
That seems like it sums it up pretty well.

From the Motor Trend Community board Posted by Matt Stone

The man who flew through the air aboard a motorcycle in the superb Steve McQueen flick The Great Escape has died. Bud Ekins passed away Saturday morning, and with him went dozens of movie appearances, hundreds of great films stunts, and at least a thousdand even greater stories.

Ekins was born in May, 1930, and as such was just two months younger than his lifelong friend, Steve McQueen. His career as a stunt man, action double, movie stunt consultant, off-road racer, and all around motorcycle guru began in 1961 when McQueen strolled into his Triumph dealership in SoCal's San Fernando Valley to look at a bike. Ekins introduced McQueen to the magic of desert racing, and so began a lifelong relationship that impacted them both for decades. Of all the stunt work and doubling that Bud did for McQueen, it was that first instance -- as motorcycle consultant, rider, and stunt double during the making of The Great Escape -- that proved his most iconic contribution to film.

"I'd never done anything like that before" he told me in an intervew for my upcoming book, McQueen's Machines: The Cars and Bikes of a Hollywood Icon. "Steve just told me 'C'mon, we're going to meet the director. Do you have a suit? Put it on and I'll pick you up." The next thing I knew, I was on my way to Germany." And on his way into the annals of movie history, by nailing the dangerous jump -- which McQueen was probably capable of, but also which the producers wouldn't even let him perform -- on the first and only take. Movie history made.

Ekins also figured prominantly in Bullitt. He was the one who doubled Steve for the scenes where Frank Bullitt, aboard his Highland Green '68 Mustang GT, chased the baddies' black Charger down the hill in San Francisco. And it is Ekins, who near the end of the Bullitt chase scene, layed a bike down in front of the Mustang, causing it to spin out, this time with McQueen doing his own stunt driving.

He was one of the pioneers of off-road racing, and was instrumental in the formation of NORRA, the National Off-Road Racing Association, which launched the Baja 500 and 1000, and has since become SCORE. Ekins and brother Dave represented America in the International Six Day Trials motorcycle event several times, ultimately winning a gold medal for an overall win. Bud also raced off-road on four wheels, as seen here (at left) with McQueen in their Baja Boot in preparation for the Stardust 7-11 race in 1968.

Bud Ekins was a man's man, a tough guy who was also thoughtful and articulate. He had a cracking wit, a superb memory, and understood motorcycling, driving, and stunt work like few others. Not many around like him. And now, there's one less.



Pantless Wonder
Dec 26, 1999
:( RIP Bud


Moderator / SuperPowers
Jun 9, 1999
A post from Cycle News:

Bud Ekins, one America’s pioneering off-road motorcyclists, died on October 6. He was 77 years old.

Ekins’ racing career spanned from the days of desert and mountain endurance runs to the modern era of scrambles and motocross and he was one of the first Americans to take part in the World Motocross Championship in Europe in the 1950s. He also earned gold medals in the International Six Day Trial. Following his racing career, Ekins went on to become one of Hollywood’s leading stuntmen and his most famous stunt was the motorcycle jump scene in the 1963 movie, "The Great Escape," starring another famous motorcyclist, Steve McQueen. Ekins also went on to be one of the country’s leading collectors of vintage and rare motorcycles. At one time, his collection numbered over 150 motorcycles and was considered to be the most valuable in the country.

In 1955, Ekins won the Catalina Grand Prix, one of the most prestigious races in the country, taking almost 10 minutes off the race record time while riding a Johnson Motors Triumph. He also won the Big Bear Run three times during the 1950s, including the 1959 victory in which he completed the 153-mile course over half an hour ahead of the second-place rider - despite suffering a flat tire and breaking a wheel. For a period during the late-‘50s and early-‘60s, Ekins was easily the most dominant racer in desert events. He was also a founder of the famous Baja 1000, making record runs down the Mexican peninsula in the early-1960s.

Ekins’ greatest accomplishments came in the International Six Day Trials. In 1964, Ekins, his brother Dave, and Steve McQueen raced in the ISDT in Germany and the team led the international competition before McQueen was involved in a crash and Ekins later broke his leg. In all, Ekins won four gold medals and a silver medal during his seven years of competing in the ISDT during the 1960s.

: By the mid-1960s, Ekins owned a Triumph dealership and had become something of a hero to Hollywood’s young movie actors, who would often hangout at his shop. One of those actors was McQueen. Ekins helped McQueen learn off-road racing and the actor became an accomplish racer.

Through his association with McQueen, Ekins began his career as a movie stuntman. In 1962, McQueen asked Ekins to come to Germany to do some stunt riding for the filming of "The Great Escape." Ekins was in Germany for more than four months working on the film and it was at the end of shooting that McQueen and Ekins came up with the now-famous jump scene.

Ekins continued doing stunt work until he was in his mid-60s, his stunt career spanning some 30 years.


May 4, 2004


Jan 27, 2000
Thanks for posting Rich.

For friends of the Ekins family, Buds funeral will be this Thursday at 11:00 AM. at Holy Cross Cemetary in Culver City.

Truly a legend.

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