How Travis Pastrana Will ‘Try Not to Die’ Re-Creating Evel Knievel’s Jump Over Caesar’s Palace Fountain

Motocross competitor and stunt performer tells TheWrap why he can’t really practice for Sunday’s live TV event

Travis Pastrana - 'Evel Live'

Evel Knievel “pretty much made his reputation by crashing,” Travis Pastrana told TheWrap, which is exactly what the “Nitro Circus” founder would like to avoid doing on Sunday when he re-creates three of the ’70s daredevil’s most iconic jumps live for the History channel.

On “Evel Live,” Pastrana will be riding an Indian Scout FTR750 V Twin, which has a similar setup to the bikes of Knievel’s era. Cool hog, but a terrible choice for this sort of thing.

“They’re just not meant for jumping really,” Pastrana said of the heavy motorcycle with a wide motor. “So you’ve got to be pretty spot-on on takeoff.”

One of the stunts Pastrana will attempt to stick is jumping the fountain at Caesar’s Palace, which ended in disaster for Knievel.

Later saying he took off about 5 m.p.h. too slow, Knievel blamed his bike’s lack of a speedometer for what resulted in a very rough crash-landing.

Watch Knievel’s 1967 attempt here:

You just watched Knievel suffer a concussion, a crushed pelvis and femur, and fractures to his hip, wrist and both ankles.

With better ramps and a loftier trajectory, Pastrana plans to take off at 70 m.p.h. — but his GPS speedometer will be about as worthless as Evel’s lack thereof. After all, this whole thing is going to unfold too fast for the number to even register, Pastrana said. Thank goodness he’ll have a radar gun at the ramp — that is, if Pastrana can even read those blurry numbers while flying by.

“The problem is, two miles an hour one way or the other is kinda catastrophic,” Pastrana told us. “So, the goal is to get up to speed right at the bottom and basically kind of level out for that split-second to check the radar gun. And hope that you’re within 2 [m.p.h.], and if not, make a quick adjustment on the takeoff and try not to die.”

Earlier in the night, for his attempt to jump 52 crushed cars, Pastrana said he’ll need an extra two m.p.h. For the 16-Greyhound bus jump — the longest of the three — he’s got to get up above 80.

Problem is, Pastrana hasn’t really been able to practice these jumps on the Indian bike: There is no real suspension to speak of, and due to its weight, parts are going break — or at least bend — upon landing.

“Evel didn’t do a lot of practice jumps, and there’s kind of a reason for that,” Pastrana said. “There’s risks every time that 750 is in the air.”

Pastrana has jumped these jumps on his much lighter dirt bike, though he’ll need different speeds for the motorcycle.

So, yeah, there are a lot of variables in play. Though the math for each of the ramps has all been worked out, there’s always an x-factor for these X Games-style launches: wind.

A five mph wind could shift a landing eight-to-10 feet in either direction, Pastrana said. Even if he’s not worried about that, we are.

“People like to see a good crash, but they like to see that person get back up… and land it,” he said of what viewers are in for — and what they’re in it for. “People want to know that it’s dangerous. They want to know that the boundaries are being pushed and that it is something incredible.”

Three-hour live TV event “Evel Live” revs up its engines Sunday starting at 8/7c on History channel.