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

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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:

 

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Don’t know the Rolex 24? You should. Here’s why.

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Hello, America. It’s time to go racing again.

Yes, Supercross is now three weeks into its season, and the Chili Bowl Nationals is now effectively the Christopher Bell Invitational after the young NASCAR star won his 3rd consecutive Golden Driller last weekend.

But the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway is the first marquee event on the American racing calendar – an event that just happens to have international prestige.

It’s also the start of Daytona Speedweeks, which culminates with NASCAR’s Daytona 500 on Feb. 17. But this is no mere opening act just warming up the crowd for the headliner.

In case you’re new to this event, here are a few reasons why it stands out:

Twice around the clock: Are you the kind of person that appreciates a challenge? Well, challenges don’t get much bigger in motorsports than a 24-hour endurance race where drivers, crews, machines, and strategies must work together flawlessly. For those behind the wheel in the Rolex 24, the obstacles are numerous: Punishing G-forces, extreme mental focus, lack of sleep, and staying on top of hydration and nutrition.

Star power: Speaking of those behind the wheel, the Rolex 24 traditionally draws top drivers from other disciplines such as IndyCar, Formula 1 and NASCAR to join sports car regulars from North America and around the world. As a result, the winners’ list is a Who’s Who of Motorsports.

This year’s field includes a clutch of NTT IndyCar Series drivers, highlighted by 5-time series champion and past Rolex 24 winner Scott Dixon. But pre-race buzz has centered on two particular interlopers: Alex Zanardi, the former CART champion making his first North American start since losing his legs in a 2001 crash, and Fernando Alonso, the two-time F1 champion looking to add another endurance triumph alongside his win with Toyota in last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Cool cars: If you’re a gearhead, the Rolex 24 is a 200-mile-per-hour candy store. Across the four separate classes of competition, 13 of the world’s premier car manufacturers are represented.

The majority of those manufacturers are found in the Grand Touring classes that feature vehicles based on road-going production models. Chevy and Ford’s eternal rivalry rages on in the factory-backed GT Le Mans, but the class also boasts efforts from BMW, Porsche, and Ferrari. It’s even more diverse in the pro-am GT Daytona, where Porsche is joined by Audi, Lamborghini, Lexus and Mercedes.

As for the exotic, purpose-built Daytona Prototypes, they are powered by engines from Cadillac, Acura, Mazda and Nissan.

Nifty fifty: This year’s Rolex 24 begins the 50th anniversary season for IMSA, the sanctioning body for North American sports car racing. A select group of teams will mark the occasion at the Rolex 24 by running historic IMSA paint schemes on their machines. You may not be familiar with these looks, but it’s worth discovering the history behind them.

Here’s an example. The Starworks Motorsports team (GT Daytona) will carry a scheme based on Audi of America’s 90 Quattro from the 1989 IMSA GTO season. Boasting sports car legends Hurley Haywood and Hans-Joachim Stuck in the driver lineup, the 90 Quattro captured 7 GTO wins that season.

Audi’s performance led one competitor to create a “no passing” sticker with Stuck’s face on it. Stuck’s response: A doll fixed to his car’s rear window that dropped its pants to moon anyone Stuck put behind him.

Status symbol: Last but not least, the Rolex 24 has a unique prize – a trophy you can wear.

Winners get a standard cup, but what they’re really after are the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona watches, which include a special engraving to commemorate their victory. A standard version of this watch retails for tens of thousands of dollars, but you can’t put a price on the ones awarded at the Rolex 24.

This year’s grand marshal, 5-time Rolex 24 winner Scott Pruett, sums it up as “the ultimate reward.”

“To be presented a watch engraved with the word ‘Winner’ after 24 hours of intense racing is a moment that lives with you forever,” he added. “Your Rolex is a constant reminder of the perseverance and hard work that goes into succeeding at the highest level.”