On Sunday, July 8th, legendary stunt man Travis Pastrana will attempt something that’s never been accomplished before: Three record-breaking motorcycle jumps, back-to-back-to-back, in one evening. And the grand finale will be a shot at the jump that nearly killed Evel Knievel.
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Sunday night’s Evel Live is Pastrana’s tribute to Evel Knievel, the man who single-handedly invented the concept of the modern daredevil. But this won’t be some low-energy retrospective of Evel’s accomplishments. Pastrana will honor Knievel’s memory with thrills, chills—and hopefully, no spills—in one action-packed night in Las Vegas. And you can watch it all, live, on the History Channel starting at 8pm Eastern Time on Sunday, July 8th.
Pastrana will attempt to recreate three of Evel’s most legendary jumps, flying higher and further than the original stuntman ever did.
The Car Jump: In 1973, Evel Knievel jumped over 50 crushed cars at the LA Coliseum. On Sunday night, Pastrana will attempt to jump over 52 cars.
The Bus Jump: In 1975, Evel Knievel crashed spectacularly while attempting to jump his motorcycle over 13 city buses in London. Later that year—after retiring and then quickly un-retiring—Knievel successfully vaulted over 14 Greyhound buses at Kings Island amusement park in Ohio. On Sunday night, Pastrana will attempt to launch his motorcycle over 16 buses.
The Caesar’s Palace Fountain Jump: This is the harrowing grand finale. In 1967, Evel Knievel attempted to jump over the fountain in front of Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. He came up short, crashing at nearly 90 mph and breaking his left hip, right ankle, both hands and wrists, and crushing his pelvis. Knievel was hospitalized in a coma for nearly a month after this disastrous crash; he never attempted the fountain jump again.
On Sunday night, Travis Pastrana seeks to settle the score with the fountain.
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As if all of that wasn’t challenging enough, Pastrana has added one more complication to the mix. Instead of using the type of lightweight, modern freestyle motocross dirt bike usually associated with extreme sports, Pastrana will be riding the Indian Scout FTR750 motorcycle you see here. Why? This is the closest modern equivalent to the style of motorcycle that Evel Knievel rode in the 1960s and 1970s: An American-made brute with a big, powerful V-twin engine.
Simply put, this bike was not built for jumping. It’s heavy—375 lbs, nearly twice as weighty as the bikes Pastrana used for his world-record double-backflip motorcycle jump in 2006 and building-to-building single-backflip in 2009.
“The motor sits so far off to the left, you can’t stand straight up and down,” Pastrana told Road & Track in the days leading up to the jump. “It wants to fall over to the left. This thing drops like a tank out of the sky. The bikes that Evel jumped, and this bike now, they’re not meant to fly.”
Adding to the challenge, Pastrana will use the same bike for all three jumps. Normally, a daredevil only attempts one jump per event, so the bike can be tuned for one particular jump. On Sunday, Pastrana will attempt three drastically different jumps back-to-back, each requiring a different launch speed and time in the air. But if there’s one person alive today who can exceed these odds, it’s Travis Pastrana.
“It’s gonna be hot, there’s gonna be significant winds,” Pastrana told Road & Track. A headwind will change the jump speed by 2-3 miles per hour. There’s gonna be a lot of calculations on the day. I don’t know if these jumps will work—I sure as heck hope they will. We’ve done our homework. But I haven’t jumped these jumps on that heavy of a bike. At the end of the day, it’s about pushing the boundaries of the human spirit.”
If you want to watch daredevil history being made live and in real time, tune in to the History Channel on Sunday, July 8th, starting at 8pm. Road & Track’s Deputy Editor Bob Sorokanich will be on TV discussing the physical, mechanical and psychological challenges that Travis Pastrana will face as he attempts to fly into the history books on his Indian motorcycle. Don’t miss it.