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Dirt and Trail August 2018

August 2018 issue of SA's only offroad and adventure magazine

F E A T U R E : P A S T

F E A T U R E : P A S T R A N A J U M P S Travis Pastrana nails all three of Evel Knievel’s Historic Jumps Words & Pics: Missy Sullivan - The History Channel At the end of the day, Travis Pastrana made leaping over 52 cars, 16 buses and the notorious fountain at Caesars Palace on two wheels look easy. Even in 100-plus-degree weather. Even using a heavy, stiff, flat-track bike unlike anything the action-sports stunt icon is used to jumping with. The three back-to-back motorcycle stunts were planned as part of an ambitious night of daredevilry and endurance called Evel Live! Produced by The HISTORY Channel in conjunction with Nitro Sports, the event was designed to honour Evel Knievel, the history-making stunt biker and showman who became a popculture sensation in the 1960s and 70s—and inspired Pastrana’s own stunt-performance career, along with others of his generation. Pastrana sought to nail three of Knievel’s most outrageous jumps over a single, three-hour period. It’s something not even Knievel himself ever tried. It was a daunting proposition even for the 34-year-old freestyle motocross and X-sports legend, who has done some pretty crazy things in his career. Among them: the first-ever dirt-bike double back flip, stunning crowds at the 2006 X Games; backflipping a motorcycle between two rooftops; and skydiving without a parachute. He won his first motocross title at age 14, and has been a dominant force in the sport ever since. Looking relaxed and confident throughout the three-hour live event, Pastrana alternated highly demanding stunt performances with quick hits of on-camera commentary. 42 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE AUGUST 2018

What inspired him most about Knievel? “Evel was never afraid to fail,” Pastrana said. “He never had a regret that I could see… He lived every day to the fullest.” The original The first two jumps took place at a site set up behind Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, Paris Las Vegas and Bally’s Las Vegas, For his first attempt, he leapt 52 cars, arrayed 13 abreast, as red-white-and-blue pyrotechnics shot up on either side. Host Matt Iseman announced the distance as 143 feet (44 meters). In 1973 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Knievel had jumped 120 feet (37 meters), over 50 cars. “I’m actually feeling pretty good,” said Pastrana after completing the jump, despite the fact that he is rehabbing a wrist injury. Pastrana made the jumps not on a lightweight dirt bike like the ones he has used throughout his celebrated motocross-stunt career. Instead, to best simulate the historic jumps, he rode a custom-built Indian Scout FTR750—an American motorcycle with a V-Twin engine that’s a modern-day evolution of the big, stiff Harley flat-track bike Knievel rode half a century ago. At 154kgs, Pastrana said, it’s more than 45kgs heavier than the bikes he normally uses in his more acrobatic jumps—with far more power and far less suspension. “This bike is not meant to fly,” said Bob Sorokanich, deputy online editor for Road & Track during the broadcast. “It’s hard to accelerate, it’s hard to launch off the ramp.” For his second jump, Pastrana soared 59 meters to clear 16 buses, compared with Knievel’s leap over 14 buses and 41 meters in October 1975 at King’s Island in Ohio. DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE AUGUST 2018 43

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