Forty years ago, motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel made his infamous Caesars Palace jump. On New Year's Eve in 1967, Knievel successfully cleared the 150-foot jump over the fountains at Caesar's palace before crashing his Harley-Davidson upon impact and rag-dolling down the ramp in one of the most unforgettable events ever aired on American television. Flash forward four decades and the who's who of motorcycling descended once again upon Sin City, but they weren't wearing polyester and sipping martini's, they were waiting to see FMX rider Robbie Maddison attempt the longest motorcycle leap in history. The Red Bull Experiment revelers weren't alone. They were joined by the rest of the world during the live New Year, No Limits broadcast by ESPN.
Motorcycle distance jumping hasn't really received a whole lot of attention in this era of back-flips, Supermans, ill tats and helmet-cams. Long-distance leaps in Las Vegas have taken a back seat due to the non-stop action of the freestyle motocross movement. But Red Bull's Robbie Maddison was intent on changing all that.
On a chilly desert night, the Rio Casino parking lot was transformed into the site where Maddison would attempt to jump the distance of a regulation-sized football field. The take-off ramp was built around field goal posts and the landing pad, a 50-foot tall mountain consisting of 10,000 yards of dirt adorned with Red Bull logos, was positioned at the other end of a faux field of astro-turf replete with yardage lines and flanked by fan bleachers to the east, an industry party to the west and the soul of the Vegas strip to the south. A strong headwind blew ominously from the north.
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