When I was living in Hong Kong I had a sports car and I raced it. And I knew that McQueen had a racing car. I rented one anticipating that we might do something with them. He was in a motorcycle race out in the desert, so I went out there in my car and met him, and I say, ‘You wanna try my car?’ We went pretty fast — I mean, as fast as you can safely go without getting arrested — and we’d ride and then stop and trade cars. He liked that, and I knew he liked it. I guess that was the first thing that softened him.

— LIFE photographer John Dominis

Notes

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