Evel Knievel Jump – Travis Pastrana Recreates 3 of Them, Including Caesars Palace
Evel Knievel is the ultimate icon of motorcycle stunters. His name alone – when spelled correctly – generates nearly 61,000 online searchers per month.
All Evel fans know of his botched attempt at jumping Caesars Palace fountain 50 years ago.
In today’s standards, the 141-foot jump doesn’t sound that crazy. But in 1968, motorcycle technology was much different, including the Triumph Bonneville T120 with its 650cc engine that Knievel used during the attempt that made him famous.
Knievel paid for it; when he crashed, he broke his pelvis, femur, hip, wrist and both ankles, and had a concussion that kept him hospitalized for nearly a month.
No one tried jumping the famed Las Vegas fountains again. But that changed Sunday when today’s iconic extreme sports figure Travis Pastrana of Nitro Circus fame, recreated the famed jump during a History Channel live event “Evel Live.” And with success.
But he not successfully recreated the Caesars Palace Fountain jump aboard an Indian Scout FTR750; before the main event, he also broke Knievel’s famous car and Greyhound bus jump records.
“I’m thrilled to have had this opportunity to honor Evel Knievel, whose guts and showmanship created the foundation for action sports,” said Travis Pastrana.
“Evel pushed himself and flew further on a motorcycle than anyone thought possible. So with this modern day tribute we wanted to bridge generations – from my parents generation who was inspired by Evel to the generation after me who may not know much about the original stunt men who paved the way – History and Nitro Circus wanted to show just how incredible his accomplishments were. To be able do that in Las Vegas and at Caesars Palace, where Evel’s legend was born, is so awesome.”
Following is from the official press release of the event, along with a photo gallery:
In just three hours and under the pressure of a live TV broadcast, Pastrana first topped Knievel’s 1973 jump over 50 crushed cars by soaring more than 143 feet in the air over 52 vehicles.
Then he surpassed Knievel’s 1975 jump over 14 buses, flying nearly four stories high and covering a jaw-dropping 192 feet to clear 16 modern-day Greyhound buses. In order to make room for the massive setup these jumps required the production teams from History Channel and Nitro Circus to take over the space behind Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, Paris Las Vegas, and Bally’s Las Vegas.
Afterwards, Pastrana took to the streets with a police escort to ride to the Caesars Palace jump site. Fans quickly lined Las Vegas Boulevard, exchanging high-fives with Pastrana from taxis and the side of the road as anticipation for the finale built. The motorcade quickly closed The Strip.
Then Pastrana faced the Caesars Palace fountain jump that nearly took Knievel’s life a half century ago after his infamous crash. As if that wasn’t daunting enough, given the expansion of Caesars Palace since Knievel’s ill-fated attempt, Pastrana had only a 200-foot run-in to accelerate to the 70-mph speed necessary to clear the fountain.
Pastrana also had to contend with stifling heat reaching 102 degrees and, just before the event, potential thunderstorms. Even in ideal conditions and if he hit his speed marks perfectly, Pastrana would land with just a few feet to spare. But, after arcing over the fountains, Pastrana touched safely down on the landing ramp to the roaring crowd and a flash of pyrotechnics.
This electrifying event paid tribute to Evel Knievel in every possible detail. From Pastrana riding a Indian Scout FTR750, a modern day evolution of the flat track motorcycles of the past – and very different from the modern-day dirt bikes Pastrana usually rides – to the white leather suit and helmet decked out in American stars and stripes just like Knievel’s classic livery, these specifics illuminate how much Knievel achieved and the impact he has had on generations of fans.