Recipe For a Knievel New Year’s: 1 Ramp, 1 Volcano

By Beacon Staff

LAS VEGAS – Here’s a Robbie Knievel recipe for a happy — but not necessarily healthy — New Year’s Eve: a ramp, a volcano and a clearing on the Las Vegas Strip.

The son of the late Evel Knievel rung in 2009 by launching the height of a manmade volcano perched in front of The Mirage hotel-casino on a motorcycle for a television special.

Afterward, Knievel said his dad, who was from Butte, Mont., would have been proud and said his New Year’s resolution was to be like a famous Rolling Stones guitarist.

“Like Keith Richards, I’m going to keep smoking, drinking and jumping in my fourth decade,” the 46-year-old stuntman said.

The 200-foot high jump made Knievel appear to jump over the volcano on television, though he actually jumped next to it as it spewed a fireball under him for live spectators. Fireworks shot into the air as Knievel landed on the Strip in an area cleared of revelers earlier by police.

Knievel said he told casino officials when they were planning the jump that if they wanted him to jump over the volcano, they would have to clear palm trees and build a ramp that would likely disrupt their valet parking service in front of the hotel.

He said he was likely going 75 to 80 mph when he jumped, though he wasn’t sure because his bike didn’t have a speedometer.

Minutes after Knievel’s jump, Australian stuntman Robbie Maddison drew excited gasps as he hopped 120 feet up and came down on top of a 96-foot high scale version of the Arc de Triomphe at Paris Las Vegas — a follow up to his record-breaking jump of more than 322 feet last year.

The 27-year-old freestyle motocross rider dropped 50 feet off the Arc into a landing ramp and successfully stayed on his bike, but hit his hand hard causing a bloody laceration.

Maddison told The Associated Press after the jump that he believed he had torn ligaments in the hand. He was taken to a local hospital for treatment and said he would probably need stitches.

“I made it look easy, but it wasn’t easy,” Maddison said. “I’ve been training so hard — if something went wrong, I could die.”

Maddison’s trajectory to the top of the Arc gave him a perfect landing in the middle of his target, before his drop down.

Maddison said he plans to return to Las Vegas for another stunt next year.

“I want to feed off this thing every year,” he said. “I’ve done a football field, and now a building. I want to do something more difficult next year.”

Minutes earlier, 36-year-old stunt driver Rhys Millen backflipped an offroad truck but rolled the truck on the landing. The vehicle landed on its right wheels first, and ended up on its side.

Millen came out of the truck on his feet, shaking his head, as crews rushed to see if he was OK.

“To have that disappointment happen just then, I can’t put it into words,” Millen said afterward, his arm around his wife. “It’s nothing unless you drive away.”

Millen gave a thumbs-up to the cameras before starting the attempt, then accelerated along a 150-foot parking lot path toward the ramp. His goal was to hit the custom built ramp perfectly straight, using an angled kicker at its end to make the truck twist as it jumped.

The 2005 Formula Drift champion from New Zealand wanted to try the stunt last year but damaged his truck and was injured in practice, forcing him to cancel the attempt.

Millen, a stunt driver in several commercials and movies, said he calculated the angle of the ramp by tinkering with a radio-controlled car in his backyard.