Out­doing E­vel K­nie­vel

George Herald - Auto Dealer - - News -

Ex­tre­me acti­on sports­man of Nitro Ci­r­cus fa­me, Tra­vis Pa­stra­na, re­cent­ly paid tri­bu­te to one of his i­dols, the le­gen­da­ry E­vel K­nie­vel, by re-cre­a­ting three of K­nie­vel’s big­ge­st stunts. On a mo­tor­cy­cle si­mi­lar to w­hat K­nie­vel him­self ro­de, Tra­vis set out to jump o­ver 52 crus­hed cars, 16 G­rey­hound bu­ses and, as a grand fi­na­le, pull off the in­fa­mous Ca­e­sars Pa­la­ce foun­tain jump. With thou­sands of fans wa­t­ching in Las Ve­gas and e­ven mo­re wa­t­ching the li­ve bro­ad­cast on the His­to­ry C­han­nel, he cle­a­red all three in con­vin­cing fashi­on. This si­mul­ta­ne­ous­ly paid tri­bu­te to K­nie­vel and ce­men­ted him as an acti­on sports le­gend.

With his star-spang­led le­at­her suit and flo­wing cape, E­vel K­nie­vel was one of the most po­pu­lar mo­tor­cy­cle da­re­de­vils e­ver. He set a num­ber of re­cords throug­hout his ca­reer. S­tunt­man and X Ga­mes cham­pi­ons­hip gold me­dal­list Tra­vis Pa­stra­na com­ple­ted the­se three re­cord-set­ting jumps on Sun­day 8 Ju­ly.

Pa­stra­na tackled so­me of E­vel K­nie­vel’s most i­co­nic jumps; so­me of which K­nie­vel did not com­ple­te. Clad in a re­pli­ca of K­nie­vel’s fa­mous whi­te le­at­her jumps­uit on a scor­ching Sun­day nig­ht in Las Ve­gas, Pa­stra­na ma­de his­to­ry.

One of K­nie­vel’s most no­to­ri­ous fai­led stunts was his at­tempt to jump the foun­tains in front of Ca­e­sars Pa­la­ce in Las Ve­gas. K­nie­vel ca­me do­wn short. He la­ter said his T­ri­umph 650 sud­den­ly lost po­wer on the ta­ke-off. He hit the ed­ge of the lan­ding ramp and tum­bled in­to the Du­nes car park, bre­a­king his pel­vis, fe­mur, hip, wrist and both an­kles.

The Ca­e­sars foun­tain jump has been do­ne sin­ce - no­ta­bly by K­nie­vel’s son Rob­bie in 1989. But all the success­ful at­tempts ha­ve been do­ne with lig­ht­weig­ht mo­to­cross bi­kes, rat­her than the big, he­a­vy T­ri­umph and Har­ley-Da­vid­son XR750 flat-trac­kers K­nie­vel ro­de be­cau­se they we­re w­hat he could get for free.

Pa­stra­na set him­self the go­al of success­ful­ly jum­ping the foun­tains on an e­qui­va­lent bi­ke to tho­se rid­den by K­nie­vel. In this ca­se it was an In­di­an Scout FTR750, which weighs a­bout 154kg, 17kg mo­re than K­nie­vel’s cu­s­to­mi­sed XR750.

Be­fo­re that, on the sa­me day, Pa­stra­na took on the le­gend’s two most success­ful jumps. The­se are his 1973 le­ap o­ver 50 stac­ked cars at the Los An­ge­les Me­mo­ri­al Co­li­se­um and his 1975 jump o­ver 14 G­rey­hound bu­ses ne­ar Cin­cin­na­ti, O­hio.

Pa­stra­na set up the car and bus jumps in the hu­ge ser­vi­ce a­rea be­hind the Pla­net Hol­ly­wood Re­sort and did all his practi­ce jumps on his u­su­al dirt bi­ke be­cau­se the big In­di­an s­treet-bi­ke was unsuit­a­ble as a jum­per.

On the day, ho­we­ver, with the luxu­ry of a long run-up, Pa­stra­na success­ful­ly jum­ped 52 crus­hed cars on the In­di­an - a dis­tan­ce of 43,58 me­tres - and fol­lo­wed that with a 58-me­t­re le­ap o­ver 16 bu­ses.

Then, ac­com­pa­nied by a po­li­ce es­cort, he ro­de the jump bi­ke do­wn the Las Ve­gas S­trip to Ca­e­sars Pa­la­ce, pul­ling bur­nouts and w­heelies al­ong the way and e­ven stop­ping to ex­chan­ge high-fi­ves with fans.

The foun­tains jump was ac­tu­al­ly the lo­west and shor­test of the three, but by far the most dif­fi­cult and dan­ge­rous be­cau­se the run-up was less than 61 me­tres. Af­ter just one speed run, he re­vved the 750cc In­di­an up to 10 000rpm and dum­ped the clutch in se­cond ge­ar.

The jump was per­fect, the lan­ding tig­ht but success­ful and Pa­stra­na had do­ne w­hat he had set out to do - ful­fil E­vel K­nie­vel’s pro­mi­se ne­ver to le­a­ve a jump un­fi­nis­hed, al­beit 50 y­e­ars la­ter.

In­for­ma­ti­on: Nitro Ci­r­cus, IOL Motoring

The jump that K­nie­vel did not fi­nish - o­ver the foun­dain at Ce­a­sars Pa­la­ce in Las Ve­gas.

Pho­tos: Nitro Ci­r­cus

Glo­ry days - E­vel K­nie­vel.

Three success­ful and dra­ma­tic jump stunts in a day for Tra­vis Pa­stra­na.

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