Chad McQueen was born on December 28, 1960, in Los Angeles, California, and is the first and only son of Steve and Neile McQueen. He was racing dirt bikes by age nine and, in just three years, would go on to win his class in the World Mini Grand Prix. Chad quickly moved on to auto racing. He won his very first race: the Mini Le Mans event, a kids-only track created on the set of the film LE MANS (1971). Before filming was completed, Chad would experience the thrill of racing at triple digit speeds down the straights, seated in his dad’s lap at the wheel of a Porsche 917. There would be no doubt afterwards that the McQueen racing gene would be passed to another generation.
Like his father, Chad became a hardcore automobile, motorcycle, and racing enthusiast. His professional racing career started in the SCCA, where he became a national champion. He placed his racing pursuits on hold when he embarked on an acting career and would go on to star in or produce dozens of movies and television programs, including Filming at Speed (2001), a documentary about the filming of LE MANS. His best known acting role was as Dutch in The Karate Kid (1984) and The Karate Kid, Part II (1986), a natural role given his early training with martial arts legends Chuck Norris and Pat Johnson.
When Chad returned full time to racing, it was to the Grand Am Road Race Series in the GT and Daytona prototype categories. He enjoyed podium finishes and had hopes to drive in Le Mans, returning to the place where his racing passion began. However, in 2006, at the wheel of Porsche GT3 during practice for 24 Hours of Daytona, he hit the wall hard after his car suffered a mechanical failure. He suffered serious life-threatening injuries, and his recovery would be arduous and painful.
During his recuperation, Chad turned his attention and expertise towards several motorcycle and car projects, consulting on the Metisse Desert Racer and the recreation of the 1968 Mustang made iconic in film classic Bullitt (1968). His expertise in classic motorcycles and muscle cars resulted in invitations to judge and participate in premier car and motorcycle events. He paired with Motor Trend’s editor and television personality Matt Stone on McQueen’s Machines, a successful biography of his dad’s 60+ classic car and 130+ motorcycle collection. Chad also helped develop a now-annual car show benefitting the California Boy’s Republic, a boy’s school that, decades earlier, had helped a young and troubled Steve McQueen turn his life around.
In November 2007, he returned to the Daytona International Speedway and got behind the wheel of the Brumos Racing 1975 Ecurie Escargot 911 RSR, driving it in the exhibitions at the Porsche Rennsport Reunion III.