Travis Pastrana Abuses a Perfectly Good FTR750 to Pay Tribute to Evel Knievel
In Las Vegas on July 8 action sports superstar Travis Pastrana sought to channel Evel Knievel in front of an estimated 25,000 fans watching in person and many more tuning in live on television across North America.
Produced in partnership with Nitro Circus, “Evel Live” saw Pastrana pay homage to Knievel’s legacy as he set out to recreate three of the American legend’s most iconic jumps. Pastrana pushed the limits even further though, breaking Knievel’s famous car and Greyhound bus jump records before completing the epic Caesars Palace fountain jump that left Knievel grasping for his life 50 years ago.
“I’m thrilled to have had this opportunity to honor Evel Knievel, whose guts and showmanship created the foundation for action sports,” Travis Pastrana said afterwards. “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 stuntmen who paved the way. To be able do that in Las Vegas and at Caesars Palace, where Evel’s legend was born, is so awesome.”
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 set-up, these jumps required the production teams 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 half a 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 an 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.