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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 Nearly five months before that feat, at Wembley Stadium in London, Knievel had attempted to jump 13 single-decker buses—which didn’t go well. He hit the last one, crashing in spectacular fashion and breaking his pelvis and his back. At King’s Island, after successfully spanning 41 meters, Evel announced to the crowd that he’d “jumped far enough.” He would continue performing, but never any longer distances. In Las Vegas, the 16 Greyhound buses that Pastrana cleared are each 5 inches wider and 5 inches taller than the ones Evel leaped. Of the three jumps of the night, this one required the highest speed and the longest run-in.  After successfully completing his first two stunts, Pastrana was police-escorted through the streets of Las Vegas to the final jump site of the night: Caesars Palace. Along the way, he was high-fiving and taking selfies with passers-by, popping wheelies and spinning burnouts. In 1967, Knievel missed the jump over the Caesars fountain, but made a splash nonetheless. It was the longest attempt of his career—43 meters—and perhaps the most notorious. When he missed the landing, crashing at around 145 kph, he tumbled head-over-heels, over and over. In the process, he crushed his pelvis, broke his left hip, right ankle, hands and wrists. And he suffered a concussion that put him in the hospital, in a coma, for nearly a month. After that, TV and promoters came calling. And after that, jumping the fountain at Caesars Palace became a holy grail for stunt motorcyclists. “This is the most iconic jump in stunt lore….because he never landed it,” said Pastrana, who’s no stranger to injury himself, having sustained more than 200 fractures during his career. While not as long as the other two jumps, this one was seen as far more dangerous and far more technical—since the area has been built up significantly shortened since Knievel’s day, shortening the ramp-up distance. “I will need every ounce of speed,” said Pastrana, who had roughly half the room Evel had to ramp up ahead of the water. He estimated that he needed to get the bike up to 115 kph in less than 61 meters. Right before the final jump, technicians were blowing cool air into the motorcycle’s engine, which was overheating due to the high air temperatures. Pastrana made a quick practice run on the fountain’s steep approach ramp before his final run. Then he sped up the ramp, sailed over—and landed hard, losing his footing on the right side of the bike and snapping his head forward hard. But he kept his balance and finished out the jump, which clocked in, distancewise, at 45 meters. “It’s such an honour to live a day in Evel’s boots,” Pastrana said of his threepart feat. Then he peeled off and took a celebratory dive into the fountain. 44 DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE AUGUST 2018

The original jump way back when it went wrong Captions: Top left & right: Travis Pastrana & Evel Knievel jumping over the fountain at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Middle left: Travis Pastrana with his wife and two daughters. Middle right: For his first attempt, he leapt 52 cars, arrayed 13 abreast, as red-white-and-blue pyrotechnics shot up on either side. Bottom: Travis Pastrana clearing 16 Greyhound buses. DIRT & TRAIL MAGAZINE AUGUST 2018 45

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