In the world of daredevil car stunts, the difference between 60 mph and 65 mph is 10-15 feet, several broken bones, or the difference between life and death.
I learned that watching the premiere of "American Daredevils," a 16-episode docu-series that tells the stories of several of these professional thrill seekers. It premieres at 9 p.m. CT Oct. 22 on History Channel.
Evel Knievel still is probably the most well-known daredevil. Betweem 1965 and 1980, he attempted more than 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps, including a Chicago stunt in which he jumped over an aquarium tank containing 13 sharks, then skidded on the exit ramp and fractured his right forearm and his left collarbone.
He is said to have suffered 433 broken bones during his career, which landed him in the Guinness Book of World Records as the survivor of "most bones broken in a lifetime."
Knievel's legend hangs over the stunt drivers in "American Daredevils," who obviously rever him. In the show preview above, Mr. Dizzy compares his concern before doing a stunt to that Knievel probably felt when in 1974 he used a steam-powered rocket called the Skycycle X-2 to attempt to fly 1,600 feet across the Snake River Canyon in Idaho. He was launched 2,000 feet over the canyon floor at 350 miles an hour, but his parachute opened prematurely and he and the cycle landed safely on the canyon floor
"You think Evel Knievel, when he strapped himself in that rocket, thought, 'Oh everything is perfect?'" Dizzy says. "I don't think so."
The second teaser below shows abother daredevil, Dr. Danger, as he is lit on fire.
Here's more about the daredevils of "American Daredevils" from History Channel:
- Based in Arizona, Spanky Spangler has been a daredevil his entire working life. It's all he knows. After surviving 22,000 stunts and setting a number of world records, he has earned the title of the greatest living daredevil. However, he's now staring down the twilight of his career as his son Bryan (Spanky Jr.) is gearing up to take over the family business.
- Texas daredevil Dr. Danger's quest is a simple one--to gain legitimacy as a professional daredevil and acceptance by his peers. Dismissed for his duct tape and paperclip approach to stunts, Danger has a new plan that he believes will win him the fame and fortune that has eluded him for two decades.
- Washington's own Mr. Dizzy is setting out to build on his world record-setting reputation by expanding his daredevil business into an empire.
"American Daredevils" was shot on location in 10 states and resulted in the destruction of countless cars and pieces of camera equipment, not to mention a few broken bones, I'm sure.
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