In 1989, One Man Jumped Over 101 Cars In An Hour

Having not been alive during the 1980s, I’ve had to rely on hearsay from others as to what that whole situation was like. It appears to have been wild, an era where anyone could try to do anything because it’s the ‘80s. And nothing seems to epitomize that more than a single man hurdling over 101 cars in an hour at the close of the decade.

On April 29, 1989, a madman named Jeff Clay decided he was going to do it. He was going to jump over as many cars as he could in an hour to raise money for a local Kiwanis Club, an international service organization that raises money to aid local communities in need.

But Clay’s story is actually a really emotional one, and it was the subject of an eight-minute long documentary by Come On Let’s Go:

If you don’t have a close relationship with your father, one easy way to get his attention is to start jumping over cars. At least, that was Clay’s reasoning. Clay was obviously a star of track and field, absolutely dominant at the high and long jump events—none of which impressed Clay’s father, who saw it all as a fad. Clay wouldn’t even go to college, so afraid was he of failing in his father’s eyes.

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Clay was jumping the family car for fun, a way to practice and let out his emotions, and says nothing would have come of it—had the neighbors not been impressed.

“Something stuck in me that, wow, maybe I am something. I can be somebody” he says in the documentary. “I wanted to be famous because I didn’t feel like I was much of anything.”

But even the fame he found wasn’t enough to settle his soul. The documentary goes on to explore the nature of his relationship to faith and how that helped him find purpose in his later life.

Watching him jump over cars is wild. It’s like he doesn’t even have to try. I’d love to do just about anything with that kind of ease—although I don’t think I’d be particularly well suited for that kind of jumping. But, hell, if I lived in the ‘80s, maybe it would have been possible for me, too.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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DISCUSSION

Add car jumping to the list of things killed by the rise of SUVs.