Ed Beckley’s father, Gerald, was a well-known stunt rider and the son followed in his dad’s steps. Ed could often be seen riding wheelies down Scott City’s Main Street as a youngster.
It wasn’t until he saw the famous daredevil Evel Knievel perform at the Kansas State Fair in 1971 that Beckley decided that was something he wanted to do. He started out making a fairly simple takeoff ramp for his first jumps and soon constructed a bigger ramp that allowed him to jump 110 to 120 feet behind the rodeo arena at the county fairgrounds.
“And that was without a landing ramp,” says Beckley, who was 23-years-old at the time.
Some of his lifelong friends helped him set up the ramp and “made sure I didn’t kill myself.”
His first professional jump was during a demolition derby at Dighton where he jumped four times – starting with three cars and eventually increasing it to six. On the final jump, he talked a friend, Dennis Sharpe, into jumping as a passenger.
“I got paid $350 and the people went nuts. I knew I had to do it again,” he says.
He later joined up with the Death Riders, a group of daredevils who traveled throughout the Midwest.
“I got hurt two or three times really bad and there was one time I got burned really bad while doing a fire act,” he says. “It was a grim lesson. I learned that I shouldn’t do so much stupid stuff until I knew what I was doing.”
That didn’t prevent Beckley from experiencing the first of several major mishaps while practicing for a record jump in Odessa, Tex., in 1974. Just as the bike left the takeoff ramp, the motor locked up and he stuck a landing directly into the ramp “which nearly killed me.”
“It literally knocked my eyeballs out of my head and onto my cheeks, it blew out my eardrums, my kneecaps were destroyed, both shoulders were broken and an injury to my left leg has never healed right,” he says.
Three Months later he was jumping again.
Numerous broken bones, concussions and two destroyed discs in his back are just part of the price that Beckley has paid for choosing this career.
“The third day after a crash is when everything always hurts the worst,” he says.
From 1978-82, Beckley was on the daredevil circuit full-time, doing 52-56 events a year. That put him on the road from January-October and during the off-season he was healing, booking dates and rebuilding his motorcycles.
By 1984, he had established himself as one of the premier daredevils in the country and Beckley began performing at some of the most famous and largest venues in the U.S. He jumped in front of a sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden and before 71,000 people at the Silverdome in Detroit.
He’s also performed at the Superdome, Kingdome, LA Coliseum and JFK Stadium, just to name a few.
“I’d never dreamed that something like that would be possible for a kid who got his start jumping at the Scott County Fairgrounds,” Beckley says.
“Big” Ed Beckley
To say that Beckley has enjoyed a career that’s bigger than life takes on added meaning from a man who bills himself as “Big Ed” – “The World’s Largest Motorcycle Daredevil.”
There were times during his career when he weighed between 350 and 389 pounds. Today, he’s slimmed down to about 305.
“We kind of defy the law of physics, putting a big guy like me on a motorcycle and jumping 140 or 150 feet,” he says with a laugh. “It’s a wonder the motorcycle doesn’t destroy itself on the landing – or my back. I’m like having two people on a motorcycle and then when you add a passenger that’s quite a sight.”
It was during a performance in Dover, Ohio, that jumping with a passenger became a regular part of Beckley’s routine. The show’s organizers were looking for “something spectacular” and when Beckley suggested taking a passenger on a jump the sponsors were thrilled.
That couldn’t be said for Linda, his wife at the time, who had just “volunteered” to be his passenger.
“The day or two leading up to the jump we had all these media stops and other things that had to get done and Linda kept asking, ‘When are we going to practice?’” Beckley remembers. “I finally told her on the day of the jump there won’t be a practice. I said if we’re going to crash we’re going to get paid for it.
“The passenger jump was a real shot in the arm and it set us apart from everyone else. The people loved it.”
Beckley cut back on his performances for about 12 years while operating the race track in Dodge City from 1982-94. He hit the circuit again from 1990-94 after moving to Texas; Big Ed stepped away for a few years and resumed jumping again in 2012.
Today, Beckley is one of only a very few daredevils who are still performing around the U.S.
“Myself and only a few other guys are even doing this and I’m the guy who’s jumping more than anyone right now,” says Beckley. “Freestyle jumping is pretty popular, but when it comes to jumping for distance, I’m about it.”
Snake River Jump
Like Knievel, Beckley had plans to jump the Snake River Canyon in Idaho in 2014. In fact, the jump was scheduled for Sept. 7, 2014, and Beckley had a $10 million agreement with Fox Sports.
However, just prior to the jump there was a major shakeup in the Fox Sports top brass and several events were cancelled by the new team, including Beckley’s jump. Beckley says the people of Twin Falls also had a “bad taste” left by Knievel and his team when they were preparing to make the original jump which never took place.
“Knievel’s jump was going to be made with a steam-powered rocket. It wasn’t even a cycle,” adds Beckley. “It was like throwing a lawn dart to the other side of the canyon. He couldn’t steer it.”
“I was going to actually jump over then Canyon where is was going to take a jump of 2500 feet at a speed of more than 300 miles per hour I was going to be over 500 feet high in the apex of the jump and then land it like a real motorcycle with a steerable parachute ,” he says. “It was going to be a real jump with an actual cycle.”
Beckley is still fighting through the courts to recover more than $1 million that was spent to bid on the jump and to rent the takeoff and landing sites.
Beckley, who turned 66 on July 6, knows that his days as a daredevil will soon come to an end.
“After the last couple of crashes, I’ve taken a pretty good ass whuppin’,” he says.
But he has no regrets.
“What drew me to this career were the fame and the fortune . . . and a chance to see a little bit of the world. I’ve accomplished that,” he says. “I guess you could call this my farewell tour, he adds. “It’s been one heck of a career and it’s going to be hard to walk away from it,” Beckley has no certain plans for retirement just that he does not want to crash again.
Race Tracks – Drag Strips – Biker Rallies now is your chance to get Big Ed Beckley to your venue! We are booking dates for August – September and October as well as the rest of the year!
Call Big Ed Beckley now and find out how we can make this work for all of us! 940-577-2698 or 940-683-4742 office.
Sometimes things work out and the fact is my next jump show is in North Platte is on a weekend I had open and wanted to buzz up through Sturgis that week. Saturday August 6th hopped onto our calendar and my company will be doing a NO LIMITS Monster Truck Summer Nationals event there so it made perfect sense to me! This jump has it’s own set of problems though as I am in a rodeo grounds trying to get up to speed and jump a good amount of footage and cars and vans but there is no place to land and get stopped! Seems like that is the case more than places I have plenty of room to do both. If you are in the area come see me at the Wild West Rodeo Arena in North Platte where I will be a little nervous about not ending up as part of the fence!
Our Vets are some of the most un-appreciated people we have in the U.S. and when the owner of Rt 66 Biker Rally (Charlie) told me about this event on his property in Oklahoma I looked it up on the map and there was Route 66 running through the property. When I read more about the event and saw photos of the fun stuff to be done I immediately called and talked to him about the fact he had created a Motorcycle Biker Party to Honor the Vets I was all about it and it was easy to make a deal with him!
In March we took a quick trip up there and met him and his number one employee Wild Child and a host of others. The land is beautiful with it’s own small lake, bar, restaurants, all sorts of vendors, camp sites, a huge water slide, and the Biker Pride and Friendly people and plenty of motorcycles. One of the coolest things is I get to do my jumps on the originally Route 66 Hiway!
Come see me Jump on June 25th and enjoy the Rally!
The Bash at the Farm – Saturday May 28th 7pm – Scott City, Ks
Rally for the Vets – Saturday June 25 – 7pm – Rt 66 Biker Rally Depew, Okla
No Limits Monster Trucks – Saturday August 6th 6:30pm – North Platte, Neb
Please check back – more to be added!
Whatever your need is Big Ed can help make your event a success!
Big Ed Beckley the World’s Largest Motorcycle Jumper and the only Jumper with a passenger jump!
County and State Fair’s
We can form with a performance package whether it be one jump by Big Ed or a 90 minutes full thrill show with all different acts and performers.
The biggest thing is to maximize your potential of drawing pre-event publicity and of course a huge crowd for Big Ed’s Daredevil show and Jump! We are media specialists and seasoned public relations experts. All our efforts are to create an exciting, safe, and successful event for our customers
Talk to Big Ed himself 940-683-4742 about how we can help you. We are in the office from 9am to 5pm daily or email email@example.com
The blessings I have received when booking jump shows is amazing including Drag strips in New Mexico – Dirt Tracks in Alabama, Florida, New York – Nebraska – and Harley shops were all hot on the Memorial Day Weekend Saturday May 28th. This time I was able to pick where I am going to Jump – and that will be at the “Bash at the Farm” for Shayne Suppes from my hometown of Scott City, Kansas is putting on a huge biker party for all with Music and more!
I am very excited to be in my hometown area and where my first jump was in Dighton, Kansas back in 1973. My hometown is close only like 15 miles away from the Bash headquarters at Shayne’s farm which is just south of Grigston, Kansas east of Scott City on hiway 96 about the same distance from Dighton.
I will be doing one jump by myself and then one with a passenger on behind me – Everyone is invited!
Google has the directions for you click here
The “curse” of Cape Girardeau, Missouri struck in the 2 o’clock afternoon show. I was nursing a leg injury and did not go out and check my set up until it was too late. Remember there is never a too late when you are setting up a jump…..I blew it! When I saw the take off ramp was set up over half way down the floor and saw no room to stop I did the old “awe it will be ok”….. oops that never works and is a curse. We had only about 75 feet to stop and was headed into a door way which was only about 4 foot wide.
On the slick concrete floor we had put coke syrup to help the quads race and the monster trucks to hook up and it worked but the area where I was needing to stop never got treated and was slick as it could be! I noticed it was a little slick and on a speed run with “TIGG” on behind me I told her to hold on this could get very interesting. Then I decided to take another step and that was to jump in 2nd gear where the engine would be screaming and might help shut the speed down. Got to the speed to make a safe jump and it was shutting down quick until I hit the part of the floor that was not treated and SPLAT down we went only I slammed into a door and it’s support with my shoulder and arm and wrist.
We both ended up on the concrete inside the lobby area and we were both basically ok. I finally got my breath back and was checked by the EMT’s where they finally released me. TIGG got a cut on her knee from the door but she was ok other than that.
We both decided to cancel the evening jump and not try to break the curse – Cape G has my respect I join two other jumpers (fmx guys) that crashed in that building also.
Thank you Jesus for making sure our injuries were small and we can recover!