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The ramps were something like I had seen Evel use. Knowing this was a real project that needed to be precise “scientifically” I used an old high school protractor to figure out the angle of the ramp and designed my ramps. Two foot wide and nearly 7 foot tall and 24 foot long they looked legit. All I had to do was saw all these 2×4 boards to length … with a hand saw. I was in shape and had big arms and was not afraid of work so I barreled into the work and soon I was nearly done when my friends showed up and could not believe what I was building. Then it happened, one of the local smart asses stopped to see what I was doing and said ” You are way to big to do that! The bike will break in half!” That was the motivation I needed. After I chased him off I was like a gunfighter, determined and focused!
Next thing to do was paint and after the paint dried I loaded them up in my buddies pick-up and we went to the local Scott County Fair Grounds and with no one around but just a few of us I lined up my 1972 360 Yamaha MX motorcycle and with the throttle gassing it through the gears hit that ramp dead center and launched it! Soon people heard what I was doing and word got out to local Demolition Derby promoters – Stock Car tracks – Drag Strips and the next thing you know I was being called by reporters wanting my story. What a ride it has been, including several in ambulances but that is the nature of the beast as they say. I have jumped over cars, trucks, vans, ambulances, motorcycles, a huge mobile home, and even running helicopters. All this time I was reaping the benefits of that day when Floyd Reed stopped me in Scott City doing that wheelie. I really knew I had “made it” when my Mom and Dad drove to New York City in 1984 to watch me jump in front of a standing room only crowd in Madison Square Garden. Performing in every major arena and stadiums here in the US and Canada I have been blessed by my Lord and to him I owe all the Glory. Still performing at 66 years old and riding Harley jump bikes I am having the time of my life and the rewards have definitely outweighed the risk.
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.
Dodge City, Kansas inside the United Wireless Arena on Saturday night Feb 20th, 2016 …We did it! Metissa Smith and I crawled on the 600 Harley and without practice or spending any time on the motorcycle prayed together and nervously aggressively blasted up the take off ramp and jumped 5 cars and the crowd went crazy!
First thing she said when we landed was she was ready to do it again!
M-et Smith will be my passenger on my Harley when we jump in Dodge City on February 20th inside the United Wireless Arena.
Metissa and I have been buddies for over 10 years. In fact she and my Son were good friends for quite a while. M-et as she likes to be called in 22 years old and is a competition body builder and a former motocross rider. She has the experience I needed to do this safely and she will be a hit with the hometown crowd.
I am excited and proud to have her as part of this jump!
Sometimes I wonder if I might have hit my head too many times! Here I am jumping in Grand Island, Nebraska for two nights January 15th and 16th inside an arena with no where for me to start and get speed and then if I do not crash trying to make the jump the landing is going to be treacherous! When I land the bike from the jump and hit the brakes I have less than 50 feet before I am outside in the ice and snow at about 55mph! What the heck was I thinking!?!
We will do our best when we set the ramps to give me all the space there is for my attempt to get speed up to jump! I am not worrying about style all I want to do is clear those cars and land on the landing ramp! Landing short like I did in New Mexico almost killed me, what I am I saying? It did kill me! The ambulance flight doctor lost me twice to a severe concussion and brain bleed plus my ribs were broken, sternum split, spleen ruptured, bruised my heart, and flattened one lung for a while! Heck yah this is some serious stuff people!
There is the reason I do this . . . you fans! I Love yah big time and want to give you the best show ever and want to prove to myself that just because I am 65 years old there is no reason to hold back. Please come to this show I need to hear you and get those handshakes and biker type huggz I am all about my fans and friends coming to the show and this one is going to be great. Here is your souvenir collector poster and the latest bio sheet on me!
Tickets are available ticketmaster.com or dial 1-800-745-3000 or they are available at the Heartland Events Center box office.
Indoor jumps are so intense!
The 2016 Winter Indoor Jump schedule is looking busy:
He will be revving up his Harley-Davidson’s
and jumping at these NO LIMITS MONSTER TRUCK events:
2016 BIG ED BECKLEY Up-coming Jump Schedule
Jan 15-16 Grand Island, Neb
Jan 22-23 Cookeville TN
Jan 29-30 Salisbury, MD (Passenger Jump)
Feb 5-6 Memphis, TN
March 5 Hot Springs, ARK
March 11-12 Pasco, WA
March 19 Billings, MT (Passenger Jump)
April 2nd Pocatello, ID (Single and Passenger Jump)
stay tuned more dates to be added…
Pat McVicker Oilfield Services of Woodward, Oklahoma presented us with the keys to this Kenworth Custom Toter Home! For you truck fans it is a T-600 Kenworth with a 300 series Caterpillar Motor and a 10 speed Transmission. It has a full custom layout with beds, shower, toilet, beds, couch, chairs, flat screen TV, stereo, and it is nice!
Pat and Big Ed have been friends for a long time, ” I answered the phone and Pat said hey Ed why don’t you hop in your Mustang and come up here and get this big motorhome I have and use it to pull your ramps?” Ed about passed out.
Plans are to get some awesome graphics on it and tour the US and Canada!
Currently I am seeking an in shape 130 pound or less pretty lady to ride
passenger on my motorcycle while I do a ramp to ramp jump over cars.
I did this many a year with my ex-wife (Linda) on the back and also with stunt-woman Vicki Sims. I would do it again with Vicki she is my first choice but does not look like she’s going to get away from her teaching and coaching job. I understand completely with Vicki’s work. The deal is I will need to find someone like her that is physically fit,not afraid, and loves people!
All of my upcoming shows are indoor live performances with monster truck shows first quarter of the year it’s not every week but there’s about five or six times that I’m needing someone to ride on behind me if you’re interested email me at Edcfp4@yahoo.com thank you.