The Lord is King

From Wheelies on Main to Madison Square Garden.

Hot and sweaty and 23 years old going no where in life when I was doing a wheelie on my buddies Yamaha 250 dirt bike on the main street of my hometown of Scott City, Kansas. In the middle of a 5 block long wheelie I noticed a guy driving up next to me and trying frantically to flag me down. Not knowing what was up I stopped the motorcycle and got off and met him in the middle of the street. He says, “How long you been riding?” I was shocked he was not mad – heck no he was interested. We got into a discussion about different tricks I could do on a bike and when he saw me riding it backwards he wanted to sign me up for his thrill show the DEATH RIDERS. Wow I thought this is my day! His name was Floyd Reed and he was from Danville, Illinois and owned the thrill show and promoted all sorts of acts including the Jackson 5 who was Michael Jackson’s family. We had several conversations and he asked me if I had ever thought about jumping ramp to ramp over cars? Told him I had seen Evel at the Kansas State Fair in 1971 and it looked easy and I wanted to try it.

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.

Oh yah and the smart ass that told me I was too big for jumping he is my age and looks terrible and his wife is bigger than me! I think I won!

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