Getty Images

Travis Pastrana successfully completes all three of Evel Knievel’s most famous jumps

2 Comments

Extreme motorsports superstar Travis Pastrana successfully replicated three of Evel Knievel’s most famous jumps without incident — and did them in record-breaking fashion — Sunday night in Las Vegas.

“It’s such an honor to live a day in Evel’s footsteps and literally in his boots,” Pastrana told The History Channel, which televised the three-hour event live. “I made my dreams come true and hopefully everyone enjoyed the show.

“Man, it’s been such an honor and been an awesome career. I’m not done yet, but this was definitely the coolest thing I’ve ever been able to do.”

Pastrana came into the night having previously told the New York Post he had one goal — “Try not to die” — and he successfully achieved that.

Dressed in a red, white and blue starred firesuit and cape that paid homage to Knievel’s trademark outfit, Pastrana began the night by jumping 52 crushed cars, surpassing Knievel’s mark of 50 cars. The length was a record 140 feet.

Then, Pastrana jumped 16 Greyhound buses (a record 193 feet), breaking the 14 buses that Knievel jumped during his career in 1975 (although Knievel crashed while jumping 13 buses at London’s Wembley Stadium five months earlier in 1975).

MORE: Travis Pastrana’s goal: ‘Try not to die’ in bid to replicate 3 of Evel Knievel’s most famous jumps

Then came the grand finale: Jumping the main fountain at Caesar’s Palace. When Knievel attempted the same jump in 1967, he crashed and suffered extensive injuries.

That was not the case for Pastrana, even though he had a significantly smaller area for both takeoff and landing due to capital improvements and expansion of the same area over the years after Knievel made his jump attempt more than 50 years ago.

Prior to making the final jump, Pastrana told The History Channel, which televised the three-hour event live, “This has been absolutely amazing. The other two jumps I had enough time to hit my marks exactly perfect. I have just so much respect for Evel for having paved the way for us.

“This (jumping the fountain) is definitely the most technical.”

Pastrana jumps over 16 Greyhound buses, the second of three jumps he performed successfully Sunday night in Las Vegas.

After his first two jumps, Pastrana – with a police escort – traveled down Las Vegas Boulevard doing burnouts and wheelies, taking selfies with and giving high-fives to fans who lined the roadway as he made his way to Caesar’s Palace.

“This was so cool, such an epic time,” Pastrana told The History Channel. “To be able to get a police escort, doing wheelies and burnouts on the Strip in Las Vegas, come on!”

But Pastrana grew more serious knowing the most dangerous and technical jump was still to come.

“It’s just been a lot of fun, but really, this is the one that matters the most to me,” Pastrana said. “This is the most infamous location, Caesar’s Palace, to jump the fountain. It’s not the longest jump, but by far the hardest.”

Even with just a 200-foot run-off area, Pastrana made the final and most difficult jump (a record length of 149 feet) look easy, even performing a NASCAR-style two-wheeled burnout in celebration.

Conditions were near-perfect weather-wise, although the temperatures were between 105 and 110 degrees, with temps on the surrounding asphalt – much like on a racetrack – hovered around 125 degrees.

Pastrana then capped things off with one final and successful jump: he ran and jumped into the fountain, a fitting ending to one of the most outstanding extreme motorsports events ever seen.

Check out some posts from social media, including video of some of his jumps:

 

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Newgarden tries to regain control of IndyCar championship race at Iowa

Leave a comment

NEWTON, Iowa – There are just six races left in the 2019 NTT IndyCar Series championship and Team Penske driver Josef Newgarden has a hard-charging Alexander Rossi closing in on his gearbox. Newgarden’s lead is down to just three points after last Sunday’s Honda Indy Toronto.

Newgarden has been the leader in the standings after every race this season, with the exception of the 103rdIndianapolis 500, when he trailed Team Penske teammate and Indy 500 winner Josef Newgarden by one point.

Is Newgarden worried entering Saturday night’s Iowa 300 at Iowa Speedway?

“I’m confident we have good cars,” Newgarden told NBC Sports.com. “You can have bad weekends here and there. I think we can have a good result the rest of the year. But there are a lot of guys still in it. Rossi is the guy who is the closest, but you can’t count out Simon Pagenaud, Scott Dixon or Will Power. It’s going to be a fight until the end for this championship.

“We briefly lost the points lead after the Indy 500. Simon and I were one point apart. We’ve had better consistency this year. That is what is going to pay off at the end. We’ve been consistent up to this point and we have to continue it to the end.

“Look at all of these championship runs, most of the times it goes to the most consistent driver. You have to have clean finishes for every run. If you don’t, it’s pretty tough to make up the deficit.”

Newgarden has had a remarkably consistent season with three wins, six podiums (top three) and nine top-five finishes in 11 races.

Rossi has nearly matched him with two wins, six podiums and nine top-five finishes in 11 races.

These two drivers are nearly in a dead heat, so as the championship leader, can Newgarden force his fiercest foes into making mistakes?

“I’m a little bit boring,” Newgarden said. “I do the same thing every time. It puts more pressure on guys like Scott Dixon, who has to win races to catch up. They are going to be more aggressive. Our program is boring and that is trying to maximize each race individually. That is what we have to do.

“I don’t know if it is that different than being in a fight with Will Power or Simon Pagenaud or Scott Dixon. They have different tendencies. Alex is the more aggressive of those other drivers. It’s fun going up against all of them. Alex is really good. He has a certain style you have to play against. If it was Scott, it would be just as exciting, but it would be a different game.

“Alex brings a more aggressive side to the conversation.”

That aggressive fight continues to the .875-mile short oval at Iowa Speedway, site of Saturday night’s Iowa 300.

It’s one of Newgarden’s better tracks. He set an IndyCar Series record for leading the most laps in a single race when he was in front for 282 laps in his 2016 Iowa win with Ed Carpenter Racing. That was preceded by two straight second place finishes at Iowa in 2014 and 2014.

Since joining Team Penske in 2017, Newgarden finished sixth that season and fourth in 2018 in a race where he led 211 laps.

“We were pretty good there last year,” Newgarden admitted. “We qualified well, but we were a little shy of what we needed last year. The race didn’t pan out the way we needed it to. Our strategy wasn’t perfect there. But those are things we can clean up. We have a really capable group. I think we’ll have a good car there, again. I feel good about it. We’ve had good cars there in the past, we were just a tick off. I think we will be better there this year.

“We should be fine.”

Short oval racing is a unique form that adds diversity to the schedule as drivers have to get on an off the accelerator and on and off the brake, all while dealing with traffic throughout the 300-lap contest.

It’s that type of close quarter racing that real racers love.

“Iowa, for sure is a racer’s track,” Newgarden said. “It’s very bumpy, with a lot of character. It’s one of my favorite short ovals that we go to. I love that place. A lot of the tracks we go to are racer’s race tracks. There aren’t a lot of bad ones of the schedule. There are tracks with diverse challenges and you like that. Going from Toronto to Iowa to Mid-Ohio, they are all different tracks that require different setups, different driving styles.

“It’s like the championship is a driver’s championship. That is what it demands.”

An NTT IndyCar Series race at Iowa Speedway is a special experience because it’s played out in front of grass-roots racing fans. These are the fans that following auto racing on a regular basis, many of which are regulars for sprint car racing down the road at Knoxville Speedway in Knoxville, Iowa.

“They are all different race fans,” Newgarden said. “Toronto has a bustling city vibe. Iowa is a bunch of farmers. Really nice people who are salt of the earth farmers who come out and enjoy racing. Mid-Ohio is a hybrid. It’s very much a Midwest race but different from Iowa.

“You get these different pockets of different fans, different people, different racers but they all like IndyCar racing and that’s pretty cool.”