Over 400 feet of total jumps have been completed by Travis Pastrana tonight in Las Vegas: one jump over 52 cars, one jump over 16 buses, and one jump over the fountain in front of Caesars Palace hotel and casino—breaking three of legendary daredevil Evel Knievel’s most insane records. I was there, and it was an astonishing event. It was worthy of the fanfare, the pomp, and the circumstance.
It’s hard to be nervous for a guy who has literally jumped out of a plane without a parachute, but somehow I couldn’t help but get a little second-hand jitters on behalf of Travis Pastrana today. I’ve met Travis a couple of times, and he’s always seemed like such a normal human being, but he has a particular knack for pushing the boundaries of the realm of possibility.
This lanky joker has shown prowess for daredevil stunts on two wheels and four (and occasionally three) as well as a keen ability to race on dirt and pavement. Two weeks ago he won his class in a Porsche Cayman at Pikes Peak International Hillclimb, a week ago he landed the world’s first Aussie Roll on a motorcycle, and this week he’s landed three jumps that blew my mind—and three in one night, which even Knievel himself never tried.
This jump was treated essentially as a warm up, as it was the shortest of the three. It was still technically a world record jump as he cleared two more cars than Evel had done. Sure, the cars were crushed and stacked three high, but could you imagine coming up short and landing on a crushed car?
It is 111 degrees, and Pastrana is riding around on an aircooled V-twin motorcycle with a full leather suit, a cape, and platform shoes. I’m practically dying from the heat, and I’m in shorts and a t-shirt. But the moment I saw Travis in his jump day getup, I knew it was a proper homage to the man/myth/legend of Evel Knievel.
The bike was great, the shoes were great, the cape was great. Everything worked to its intended effect, turning Travis from a tall weirdo into a proper showman like Knievel.
Because the first jump was pushed back 20 minutes, we weren’t sure we’d be able to watch the bus jump and still make it to the fountain before Travis made the final jump of the night. Wanting that iconic Caesars Palace photograph, we all moved from the first site to the second an hour early. It was the right move, if I’m honest.
I watched the second jump from the view screen at the fountain just like many of the VIPs who had started piling in to the fountain well before I was there. I’ll be sure to get you some shots from the Nitro Circus professional photographers as soon as they become available.
In the end, I’m glad I ended up at Caesars Palace well ahead of time, because I got to watch Travis’ police escort down the Las Vegas strip with Robert Pastrana (his father) to my right, and several members of Evel’s family. It was a truly surreal experience.
I didn’t really suspect that Travis would fail at any of these attempts. He was well prepared, having already landed these jumps in practice over a month ago. I’ve been watching him warp my mind for over 15 years, and it was a special feeling to see it happen right in front of my eyes.
The fountain jump wasn’t flawless, however, as the pyrotechnics failed to launch. The crew in charge of such explosive equipment said that Travis was going faster than they expected and didn’t hit the trigger in time. Once The TV interviews were already completed, they launched the fireworks out of the center of the fountain, and it was a true spectacle. The jump would have been about 15 times cooler if it’d been timed perfectly, but that’s to take nothing away from the feat.
I will say one thing—I really want an Indian painted up like Travis’ big twin. It’s worth noting that Evel’s daughter even commented that she was disappointed in Harley Davidson and Triumph, the bike brands her father rode, for not stepping up to present this event. She was happy, however, that Indian Motorcycles stepped up to the plate.
It was an awesome event, and well worth enduring the crazy hot weather.