Everyone remembers the incredible stunts done by Evel Knieval. His daredevil attitude and addiction to breaking records made him this huge name that everyone had to watch.
He didn't always succeed at his crazy stunts, but that never seemed to stop him from dreaming bigger and better.
Not only were his stunts fun to watch, they ended up inspiring a lot of other people. After seeing him, others would want to jump crazy distances or take on some bizarre challenge, but none have ever managed to make a name for themselves quite like Evel Knieval.
But now, one man has found a way to try and raise the stakes, by taking on three of Evel's biggest stunts in a single day, including one that he famously failed 50 years ago.
Travis Pastrana is an extreme motosports superstar and founder of Nitro Circus, and he has been practicing for this day for a long time.
He knew going in that it was a big deal, and he wasn't afraid to admit that he was nervous. In an interview before the jumps he revealed it was starting to get to him.
"I literally get to live a day in Evel Knievel’s boots, if you will," he said. "I’m pretty nervous. It’s keeping me up a little bit at night.”
He was approached by the History Channel to do a live event that would appeal to different generations.
“It was pretty much a no-brainer. I thought, I definitely have to do something about the man who started action sports. He was the first one who showed that you could jump a motorcycle.”
He planned to recreate three jumps. The first involved jumping 52 crushed cars, the second was to jump 16 Greyhound busses, and then the final would be to jump the fountain at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.
The motorcycle he used was an Indian Scout which weighs twice as much as the bikes he normally rides, but it has three times as much power.
“I got on the Indian and it was like, ‘Holy cow, it’s like jumping a tank.’ Now I understand why Evel crashed so much,” Pastrana said. “I literally have to hit 68 mph in under 200 feet. With his high-heel dress boots, if I miss a shift, I’m in the fountain for sure."
Not only was he recreating the jump, but he also made sure his outfit looked exactly as Evel's did back in the day.
"Even down as far as the boots,” he said. “I went to a tailor and they’re probably the most expensive shoes I have. They’re made for going out, not for jumping.”
Pastrana said that it was his dad who was the real Evel Knieval fan. "I’ve always been not necessarily a huge fan but I was inspired by him. My dad always kind of lived by Evel’s theory that you’re not a failure until you fail to get back up.”
He went into the event saying that he had one goal:
"Try not to die."
Luckily, Pastrana successfully made all three jumps.
“It’s such an honor to live a day in Evel’s footsteps and literally in his boots,” Pastrana said after he managed to make the jumps. “I made my dreams come true and hopefully everyone enjoyed the show."
“Man, it’s been such an honor and been an awesome career. I’m not done yet, but this was definitely the coolest thing I’ve ever been able to do.”
The Caesar's Palace jump is definitely a challenge, and he was most nervous about it. “It’s just been a lot of fun, but really, [the fountain jump] is the one that matters the most to me,” Pastrana said. “This is the most infamous location, Caesar’s Palace, to jump the fountain. It’s not the longest jump, but by far the hardest.”
With only 200 feet to get going, Pastrana managed to make the record-breaking 149 foot jump look easy, landing it perfectly on the other side.
Do you remember hearing about Evel Knievel before? Could you imagine how scary this all would have been?
It just goes to show you that people who ride motorcycles aren't necessarily just those tough bikers. Sometimes they are daredevils like Pastrana, other times they are moms delivering breast milk to people in need.