5 Minutes with...Robbie Maddison

December 31, 2008 10:40am | by:
Robbie Maddison and I are a lot alike. We both ride motorcycles, we are both Moose-sponsored athletes, and we both have two arms, two legs and two ears. Heck, I was even standing 100 feet up with him on top of the Arc de Triomphe at the Paris hotel in Las Vegas interviewing him yesterday. But that’s about where the comparison ends, as I would never in a hundred years take a YZ250 and jump on top of it. Then, somehow not realizing how lucky I was to make it, jump off it right afterwards. That’s what the 27-year-old Australian is going to do tonight. Did I mention it’s televised on ESPN? And on the Las Vegas strip? This is what the man they call “Maddo” had to say about tonight’s jump. Make sure you tune in to Red Bull's New Year No Limits event tonight at 11:00 p.m. ET on ESPN.

  • Here's a look at what Robbie Maddison will be jumping this evening.
Racer X: Robbie, first off you’re nuts. Second of all, can you give the readers at Racer X some of your background in regards to your motocross career?
Robbie Maddison: I have a little bit of motocross history. I started racing when I was six-years-old back home. I actually banged bars with Chad Reed quite a bit. I beat him in a state championship on 80s. That was my claim to fame before I jumped a football field last year. I did supercross on 80s and then got out of the sport.
You obviously follow all the Aussies competing in the supercross/motocross tour. What are your thoughts on all your countrymen coming over and enjoying success?
I would’ve put my money on Jake Moss to win and not only because he’s my roommate but because I see all the hard work has he put in behind the scenes. He came over here alone and worked hard. He almost got second at his first-ever supercross. But unfortunately he broke his back and will be out for a while. I’d like to see Dan Reardon do well, he’s worked hard. You see guys like Andrew McFarlane come over and not come back. I know how hard it is for these guys. I’d like to see Chad continue and find a way to dig deep and give it to James [Stewart]. If anyone can beat James, it’s Chad or [Ryan] Villopoto. I’d like to see all the Aussies do well and I’ll be at A1 cheering everyone on.
What were you thinking in coming up with this idea and how did it actually come together?
The long distance thing was cool and I wanted to get that record, but more than anything, I just wanted to jump a football field. The thought of going from goalpost to goalpost seemed pretty cool to me. ESPN and Red Bull created that dream for me and once that was over, all my thoughts were of sticking things in between the gaps but that’s been done before, y’know? I was actually driving down the freeway in LA going to the X Games doing 65 mph and I was right by the Staples Center when I thought, shit with this speed I have enough momentum to get on that roof. I had this idea that it could be done. I’m good enough at math to know that with the right ramp and speed, I can get so high. I thought I should jump onto a building. It sparked me and gave me some energy. I went to the guys at Red Bull and told them this and they were excited also.
We started thinking about it and realized that actually practicing this jump would be kind of hard to do safely. We thought about a net catch system and maybe going into a quarry, but that was all far-fetched. Luckily, Jack Murphy came up with a scaffolding structure that was fully adjustable; I’m sure it was pretty pricey. It helped me conquer a feat that I knew I could do but had no means of practicing it. I’m pumped that Red Bull got me on the team and I’m stoked that I got this position to risk everything and do something amazing.
So how did we get here? And by here I mean 100 feet up on the Arc de Triomphe on the Las Vegas strip.
Well, once we settled on the building idea, we started thinking of where. Las Vegas came to mind immediately and we came here to look around. As far as I was concerned, I thought there was too much stuff around to get a clear run and I was thinking more of LA. We came out and checked this site out as well as Caesar's Palace, they have that arena over there. So we looked at both sites and this one made the most sense. We had enough run here and this deck height was about perfect, so that’s when it happened.

  • Robbie Maddison is afraid of heights.
In your mind, which jump is going to be harder? This one or the one last year when you jumped 322 feet?It’s hard to answer that question because they are totally different jumps. Last year’s was amazing, but this one is pretty hard; there is the step up and then the jump down. They also take a different skill, this is  a very technical jump. The step up is a matter of getting the right speed, having the strength to deal with the transition and hitting the rear brake to bring the bike level. Then I don’t have much run at it as well. After that the jump off is totally blind and it takes the cake for the most dangerous thing I’ve done. The landing is five or six stories below us. It’s going to be tough to pull both of them off and I think the jump off is the gnarliest.
Not to be Debbie Downer but there is a certain percentage of people that will tune into ESPN and want you to fail. I suppose they just want to see what would happen. Have you thought much about the consequences of not making either of these jumps?
Pretty much every thought that could enter into my mind has before the jump. On the day of the jump though I have crossed every negative thought out of my mind and I’m pumped to do it and show all those people that nothing bad is going to happen. I’ve learned a lot in practice and I know that come time, I’ll have to be technically perfect to pull this off. I’ll be concentrating on what I need to make this jump perfect, make sure I’m in the right gear and that I’m lined up straight. And then on the way down I have to concentrate on not going too fast or too slow and getting the right pop off the lip.
I’m in third going up and third going down. I’m trying to keep my weight forward on the take off so I can land the way I want. Touch the rear brake and land with the front end a little first to make it easier on me. The drop down I just ride off and get the front end to dive and we’re all cool.
Do you just shake your head at the fact that you’re jumping a dirt bike on ESPN right on the Las Vegas strip?
For sure, I’ve always had so much bad luck in my career that it’s hard to believe that I’m here. Racing the championships back home, I was going to win the state championship and I blew third gear in my 80. Another time I was winning and I snapped a chain. That’s just the things that happen to you in life. Look at Ryan Hughes, he broke a chain in the mid-'90s when he was close to winning a title. That happens to the best of us, sometimes you put in the hard work and effort and it’s not meant to be. I had a hard time getting over that lost title and it’s important to remember that life’s not always fair and anything can happen at any time. I never would’ve thought I could get here but I dreamed about it and here I am.

So I guess the inevitable question would be, what’s next for you?
I don’t know man, I’m going to be thinking pretty wildly after this one is over. We’re going to have to jump something bigger, something further. I don’t know where this goes but I’m going to be thinking hard and have something great for next New Year's.
Who do you want to thank?
I want to thank all my sponsors that help me out. DC Shoes, Swatch for keeping me on time, Red Bull has been awesome, I want to thank ESPN for their investment in me. None of this would have been possible without them. Dragon, Dunlop, Maxima, Alpinestars, Moose Racing, Parts Unlimited, Acerbis, DeCal Works for making my bike look awesome, Cernic's--Jeff Cernic is the first guy who helped me out over here and invested in me so I want to throw out some love to him. Iconaircraft.com, check them out. They make sick aircraft and I’m trying to get my butt in a plane soon. Just thanks to everyone that helped Maddo get to where I am.