By Pat Schutte
Courtesy of www.monsterenergy.com
This Thursday, May 4th, Monster Energy’s Mike Metzger will return to the site of Evel Knievel’s infamous 1968 Caesar’s Palace fountain jump and – if all goes as planned – the “Godfather” of freestyle motocross will launch ramp to ramp, 110 feet (and upside down) back flipping over the fabled fountain and into the record books.
The jump itself will set a high water mark for freestyle motocross stunts, on par with Monster Energy’s Ryan Capes’ breaking of the 300 foot distance barrier last summer. ESPN, which is producing the event to promote the upcoming “Mission Impossible” movie, reportedly asked Metzger’s legendary freestyle counterpart Travis Pastrana a couple years ago if he wanted to do the Caesar’s fountain back flip. Pastrana declined.
Enter Metzger. The SoCal native, former top flight pro motocross racer, supermoto star and one of the few legitimate threats to mine gold at Winter and Summer X Games and on the Dew Tour, was contacted by ESPN and agreed to pull the historic jump.
In a special interview for www.monsterengy.com and available exclusively to the motocross industry media, Metzger sets the stage for this Thursday’s epic evening in Vegas.
MonsterEnergy.com: Dude, how’d you come up with this idea?
Metzger: “Several people have wanted to jump Caesar’s fountain. I put the word out there once I was doing back flips that I wanted to do it. ESPN came to me with a producer, asked if I thought it was possible, then asked if I wanted to do it. I told them ‘If you can give me a take off, something like Winter X, where I can jump over a 100 feet I’ll do it.’”
MonsterEnergy.com: And Pastrana didn’t want to do it?
Metzger: “(I) Talked to Travis, they (ESPN) went to him two years ago, he said ‘Could be possible, but I’m not going to do something like that.’ He (Pastrana) said I’m crazy.”
MonsterEnergy.com: In a way that the motocross community would understand, how’s this all going to come together on Thursday?
Metzger: “I think what people will appreciate is, like Evel, I only have one shot at the jump. Just step up, no practice, and nail it. I’m pretty confident in regards to this kind of stuff. I’ve put myself though situations like this in the past. I know when I have to get a job done and I take everything into consideration on what it takes to get it done right. I was the guy to pick.”
MonsterEnergy.com: There’s not a lot of room around that fountain. On top of that you’re back flipping it, not just clearing a gap. Your ramp set up has to be pretty unique.
Metzger: “Yeah, it’s a ramp-to-ramp jump with a landing that is about double the height of a normal landing – 25 feet tall. With all the planters, steps and pillars in the way the entire take-off approach has to be built on scaffolding. This puts the take-off ramp at 10 feet off the ground with the top of the ramp being 21 feet. So yeah, it’s a good-sized ramp and landing.”
MonsterEnergy.com: Have to had a chance to hit it yet?
Metzger: “I’d say I have about a half hour on it. I set it up and jumped it at my house for one day, then tore it down and took it to LA, hit it a couple more times.” Note: Metzger said he’ll hit the jump in third gear, about 2/3’s throttle. And the ramp itself will travel to the Summer X Games as a 100-plus foot hit for the freestyle comp.
MonsterEnergy.com: OK, so how far’s the gap – take-off to landing – and what’s the farthest you’ve ever back flipped?
Metzger: “From take-off to roller landing is 110 feet. The farthest I’ve ever back flipped is around 100 feet.”
MonsterEnergy.com: Is Evel gonna be there?
Metzger: “He says he is. I told him he’d better be. I want to hang out afterwards and get some pics with him.”
MonsterEnergy.com: So you’ve spoke to Evel?
Metzger: “I did. On April 20th I was driving down to practice my ramp the first time, got his number from a guy at ESPN who said ‘Keep it short and sweet.’ I’m thinking ‘WHAT am I going to say to Evel Knievel?’ So I called him and it turned into a 20 minute conversation. He told me to be wise about your decisions, smart about reaching your goals, stay within your range of being comfortable. He said he’s wacked himself for the sake of entertaining people and he said that’s not what it’s about. But I can relate to that, I like to entertain.”
MonsterEnergy.com: What’s your opinion of Evel?
Metzger: “I don’t know a whole lot about him, know he’s done some crazy things in his lifetime. What I’m doing I like to think even though I just get to do one jump that day, it’s a record setting back flip. And I looked at it like I practiced to get there. Where real stuntmen, like Evel, line up a bunch of cars and think they’re gonna do it. I know I can do it.”
MonsterEnergy.com: Would YOU jump the fountain on a 600-pound Harley?
Metzger: “If the money would have to be right. I’d back flip a (Harley) Sportster if somebody wants to pay me.” (diabolical laughter)
MonsterEnergy.com: This is pretty much the sickest bike stunt jump ever. Do you have plans to top it?
Metzger: “Yeah, man, I got stuff in the works already for this year that’s gonna blow people away. I plan on competing on the Dew tour. Monster Energy/Pro Circuit/Factory Freestyle team is alive! Got a sick team with a couple young cats that will compete for the gold this year. Wiley Fullmer (18) from Corona. The guy’s gnarly. He’ll do whatever I do. And San Diego’s Jeremy Lusk (21). He’s been on the Boost Mobile Tour. Ran into them a couple months ago, had some confidence putting together a team, help these guys out getting the to the Dew Tour while promoting my new company and doing R & D on my new Factory Freestyle bolt-on freestyle equipment.”
MonsterEnergy.com: Did they give you and advance copy of the new Mission Impossible movie?
Metzger: “No, I don’t watch movies.”
MonsterEnergy.com: Who’s going to be there first when you land this?
Metzger: “Hopefully my wife and kids.”
MonsterEnergy.com: Big party in Vegas afterwards?
Metzger: “We’re supposed to have an after party right at Caesar’s. Monster Energy’s the sponsor, but I don’t know what they’re calling it – so I’m calling it “When I land the big jump me and all my friends are gonna go have a sip or two!”
MonsterEnergy.com: Well, your Caesar’s jump kicks off a weekend of unreal dirt bike action in Vegas.
Metzger: “Yeah, for sure. I’m excited. Mini bike racing at the Orleans on Friday, then the supercross finals on Saturday.
MonsterEnergy.com: Who are you picking to win on Saturday?
Metzger: Win? Well, I’m not sure. I’m definitely a Kawi fan, Bubba’s one to always hype it up, especially on Vegas. But you can never count Ricky or Chad out. So all I know is it’s going to be an unreal weekend – beginning with Caesar’s on Thursday night, LIVE at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time on ESPN!
MonsterEnergy.com: Yeah, Mike! Thanks for your time man, and good luck.
Metzger: Thanks, man.
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By Pat Schutte