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George Lucas originally aspired to be a race car driver before a near-fatal accident changed his career path

Key Points:

  • In his youth, George Lucas was passionate about drag racing and modifying cars, aspiring to become a professional race car driver.
  • A horrific car accident in 1962 left Lucas severely injured and made him reevaluate his life’s priorities.
  • This near-death experience prompted Lucas to pursue filmmaking, leading to his iconic works like Star Wars and American Graffiti.

George Lucas, the visionary filmmaker behind the wildly successful Star Wars franchise, might have taken a vastly different path in life if not for a near-fatal accident in his youth. Before becoming one of the most influential directors in cinema history, Lucas harbored dreams of becoming a professional race car driver, fueled by his passion for speed and adrenaline.

How a Drag Racing Obsession Nearly Cost George Lucas His Life?

Star Wars Director George Lucas via DW History and Culture
Star Wars Director George Lucas via DW History and Culture

According to SlashFilm, growing up in Modesto, California, Lucas was captivated by the drag racing craze of the 1950s. After modifying his yellow Autobianchi Bianchina into a high-powered racer, he competed in local races, convinced that a career as a professional driver awaited him. However, on June 12, 1962, Lucas’s life took a drastic turn when his souped-up car was broadsided by a Chevy Impala, flipping multiple times before slamming into a tree.

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A Near-Death Experience Paves the Way for Filmmaking

George Lucas
George Lucas

Miraculously, Lucas’s life was spared when his racing seatbelt snapped during the crash, ejecting him from the vehicle moments before impact. Severely injured with bruised lungs and requiring medical attention, Lucas found himself at a crossroads. The accident made him acutely aware of the fragility of life, prompting him to reevaluate his priorities and pursue a more meaningful path.

READ MORE: Can You Believe It? Bob Ross, the Icon of Calm, Once Commanded as an Air Force Drill Sergeant

Inspired by his newfound perspective, Lucas began studying harder, improving his grades, and delving deeper into his hobbies like photography. After photographing racing events, he formed a friendship with aspiring filmmaker Haskell Wexler, who encouraged Lucas to attend film school at the University of Southern California. This pivotal decision set the stage for Lucas’s illustrious career, culminating in the creation of iconic films like American Graffiti and the Star Wars saga.

George Lucas’s first major film, American Graffiti, was released in theaters on August 11, 1973, by Universal Pictures.

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