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The 411: Evel Live

by Chris Leone // Website // Twitter
Images via Nitro Circus/The History Channel

Travis Pastrana has always been one of action sports’ most creative and exciting athletes to watch, from his breakout years as a teenager to the current day. Here’s the lowdown on Evel Live, his latest daredevil feat, and an homage to the man whose daring motorcycle jumps helped lay the foundation for freestyle motocross decades later:

So, what crazy stunt is Travis Pastrana up to now?

It’s not just one stunt, but three. Inspired by Evel Knievel, Travis will attempt to take on, or even outdo, three of Knievel’s most iconic jumps in Las Vegas:

  • First, he’ll look to jump over 52 crushed cars behind the Planet Hollywood parking lot.
  • Then, he’ll attempt to top Knievel’s world record Greyhound bus jump, extending the record from 14 (set in 1975) to 16. It’ll be a 155-foot gap.
  • Finally, if he can handle all that, he’ll be escorted by police across the city to Caesars Palace, where he’ll aim to do what Knievel could not: clear the fountains and land the jump unscathed.

What is all this for?

Evel Live—a History Channel event that kicks off the channel’s second annual Car Week. Produced by Nitro Circus, the three-hour live event will feature a number of interviews with Pastrana and the Knievel family, expert analysis, and of course, the three jumps in question. The telecast airs tonight at 8PM ET/5PM PT.

What else has Travis been doing lately?

Pastrana has always been a man of many interests. He may have gotten his start on a dirtbike in both Supercross and freestyle competitions, but his star appeal and other-worldly talent has taken him well beyond that. He’s transitioned into cars with plenty of success, winning rally and rallycross championships and events and even holding his own in NASCAR; last year, he won the American Rally Association title. Behind him, the Nitro Circus brand has become a genre-defining entity, growing a number of superstars of its own with multiple world tours and the annual Nitro World Games in Utah.

In some ways, though, this jump seems to be a part of Pastrana’s gradual passing of the torch as action sports’ lead innovator. He’s already announced on Instagram that Action Figures 2, the latest Nitro Circus movie, will be the “last action sports film project that I will lead,” and the Ausi Roll (a double backflip 360) will be his final world’s first as a freestyle rider. Then again, Pastrana has always been known to surprise—so who really knows?

What will he be riding to do it?

An Indian Scout FTR750 V-twin motorcycle, similar to the bikes that Knievel rode in his heyday. While the machinery is obviously modern, Pastrana insisted on running something as similar as possible to what Knievel used to ride.

Is landing all three of these jumps possible?

With the benefit of half a century of advancement in the sport, and plenty of its smartest people handling the math on the jump angles and launch speed, you have to think that Pastrana would never have agreed to this if it wasn’t possible. That said, the Indian isn’t really built with air time in mind, so Pastrana’s practice has mostly come on dirtbikes, which are lighter and require different takeoff speeds to clear the gap. And of course, environmental conditions are always a factor.

What’s Travis up to after this?

Evel Live is actually just one of three busy weekends in a row scheduled for Pastrana. Next weekend, he’ll be in Austin for the first annual DirtFish ARX of Circuit of the Americas, joining Chris Atkinson and Patrik Sandell with Subaru Rally Team USA. Then, he’ll head up to Maine with the team to join David Higgins at the New England Forest Rally, an event he won last year for Subaru.

Longer-term, Pastrana will also return to rallycross at this September’s Nitro World Games, which has been moved to Utah Motorsports Campus to accommodate its first four-wheel racing event. The Nitro Circus live show will kick off a residency at Bally’s in Las Vegas in 2019.

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