Daredevil stunt driver Gregg Godfrey left the crowd at Butte, Montana’s, Evel Knievel Days laughing, clapping and cheering (and probably heaving huge sighs of relief) as his Freightliner FLD successfully landed a record-setting 166-foot jump.
The previous “official” record stood at 62 feet.
Published reports say Godfrey had planned to hit the take-off side of the jump ramp at 70 mph. He had intended to travel 140 feet, but managed to clear that by an additional 26 feet. The take-off and the flight across the span of the two ramps was picture perfect, with the truck describing a smooth arc and landing with a slightly nose-down attitude.
Things nearly went off the rails when the front suspension bounced the truck back into the air momentarily, and the right front tire blew. Godfrey recovered and managed to get the truck stopped, but not before throwing it into a 180-degree brake skid — more out of necessity than dramatic effect, I think, but it sure was cool.
Event organizers took some heat for the seemingly lax safety standards in place for the jump, and the fact that Godfrey could have easily taken out the building he stopped beside underscores those concerns.
After the jump, Godfrey told the Montana Standard he hit so hard he thought he had given himself a concussion. “I don’t think I’m all there,” he told reporters.
Butte’s Evel Knievel Days is an annual event celebrating hometown hero Robert Craig “Evel” Knievel. This year’s event featured a number of different stunts and races, including a backwards car jump and stuntmen running through walls of fire.
I couldn’t find any record of the previously described record truck jump of 62 feet, but I did come up with this officially logged Guinness World Record truck jump of nearly 84 feet.
Mike Ryan of Mike Ryan Motor Sports teamed with EMC and the Lotus Formula 1 team to jump a complete tractor-trailer over a moving Lotus F1 car in November 2014.
The Ryan-Lotus stunt was meticulously planned, unlike some of the other weekend wonders who seem to think all you have to do to get a truck airborne is to hit the takeoff ramp fast enough. That may be part of it, but unfortunately, it’s the landing that really counts. Sometimes that part of the stunt doesn’t go so well.
Successful or otherwise, you have to give them credit for trying, these modern day marvels. A hundred years ago, they might have been shooting themselves out of cannons at carnivals, or going over Niagara Falls in barrels.
The namesake of the weekend shindig that saw the 166-foot truck jump, Evel Knievel himself, took the art of the crazy, seemingly impossible motorcycle jump to a respectable level. Thousands would gather to watch him try to smash his previous records. Sometimes all he smashed were several dozen bones. He claimed once that he had broken nearly every bone in his body at least once.
I guess the takeaway here is, while these events are fun to watch on YouTube, and probably even more fun to witness live, these folks are putting their lives on the line for a cheap thrill. Don’t try this at home, even if your life insurance policy is paid up. The insurance company would probably find a way to deny the claim.
You can read more about the jump and see more video and pictures here on the Daily Mail website.
To see what goes into one of Ryan’s stunts, click on this link. When you get to the page, be sure to click on the link below the video frame, “Watch an exclusive behind the sceenes.” That’s where it gets really interesting.
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