Travis Patrana paid homage to Evel Knievel in the best way possible on Sunday night. The 34-year-old motocross icon, race car driver, and all-around daredevil performed three jumps in Las Vegas. Each one was modeled after a jump Knievel completed or attempted, and Pastrana went just a bit bigger on all three of them. Performed live for the History Channel, Pastrana launched himself into the record books while honoring one of his heroes.
To fully honor Knievel, Pastrana dressed like the daredevil and rode a similar style of bike. Instead of a dirt bike with lots of suspension travel, Pastrana rode an Indian Scout FTR750. We're talking heavy bike. His outfit consisted of leathers done up in the same stars-and-stripes livery that Knievel made so iconic. That had to be hot given that the temperature was well over 100 degrees.
On to the jumps.
First, Pastrana stared down a ramp sitting in front of 52 crushed cars. When Knievel did the stunt in 1973 at the Los Angeles Coliseum, he cleared 50 cars while soaring 120 feet through the air. Like Knievel, Pastrana had no issue with his jump, but he performed even better than his hero, flying 143 feet over 52 crushed automobiles.
The second jump re-created Knievel's attempt to clear 14 buses back in 1975. We say "attempt" because Knievel landed atop the flat portion of the landing ramp, then sprawled to the ground. Pastrana set up 16 buses and took his Indian into the Vegas sky. After soaring 192 feet, he put both wheels back down and successfully completed the second of his three jumps.
Finally, the jump that many had been waiting for was at hand. Back in 1967, Knievel attempted to jump the fountain at Caeser's Palace. That infamous stunt put Knievel in the hospital with a lengthy list of broken bones and other injuries. Pastrana didn't disappoint, though, as he flew 149 feet through the air to clear the fountain and thrill the attending crowd.
Pastrana is a modern-day showman who is at the top of his game. While these stunts might be seen as "easier" than some of the tricks he's done in the past, he put on a heck of a show for the Las Vegas crowd. He also did so on a less-capable bike than he's used to riding, while wearing thick leathers, a cape (that he took off for the jumps), and platform shoes.
Somewhere out there in the ether, Evel Knievel smirked slyly and gave a proud thumbs up to Travis Pastrana and his tribute to an American icon.