Pastrana plans New Year's Eve jump

Updated: October 15, 2009, 5:54 PM ET
Associated Press

For his latest stunt, Travis Pastrana will be going over the water, not into it.

The freestyle motocross star and rally car champion will be barging into 2010 as only he can. On New Year's Eve, with the Queen Mary in the background, Pastrana will attempt to break the world record for the longest jump in a rally car.

He'll jump from a ramp on the Pine Street Pier in Long Beach, Calif., onto a ramp on a barge anchored in the harbor.

"It ought to be a pretty cool thing. I just hope they get me back to the party after I land on the barge," Pastrana, the wild man of action sports, said in a telephone interview. "Even more, I hope I'm not swimming."

The jump will be the latest in Red Bull's New Year, No Limits series.

The current record is 171 feet set by Pastrana's Subaru teammate, Ken Block, in a rally car in November 2006. Pastrana, 26, wants to break that mark by more than 100 feet, and said he's aiming to clear approximately 250 feet of water between the pier and barge.

Pastrana, remember, is the guy who announced himself to the action sports world when at age 15 he celebrated an X Games gold medal by jumping his motorcycle into San Francisco Bay in 1999. That stunt got him into a fair bit of trouble, and he lost his prize money and medal.

"I've been a pretty good boy. I've been out of the water since then," he said. "Hopefully I'll stay out of the water this time."

Pastrana envisions an "old-school, Dukes of Hazard-style jump."

"Back in the '80s, Spanky Spangler and those guys did a lot of jumps where they took a car and landed in other cars or landed in something soft. I guess water could technically do that, but hopefully I'm not getting there," he said.

"Our goal is to make this as authentic as possible. I want to use a really close-to-production Subaru, not some super high-tech ramp or super high-tech car. Just a full-on, old-school stunt. And definitely I want to drive out of it, too."

Pastrana plans to put in plenty of practice time on ramps at a Red Bull facility in the Los Angeles area.

There will be pier pressure, for sure.

"I'm hoping they're going to have scuba divers just in case something goes awry," he said. "Drowning is not on my priority list."

There are major concerns, and a roll cage will protect him only to a point.

"With a motorcycle, you have the option if something is going wrong, you can jump off," Pastrana said. "You'll still break your ankles or something, but you can pick your landing spot and figure it out.

"In a car, if I hit the water, the car broke on the takeoff," he said. "It's very possible to land on the side of the boat or on the top of the boat and break your back, then bounce into the water, where you're probably going to be unconscious. That's probably my biggest concern, is breaking something where I couldn't move, strapped into the car, then hitting the water."

The Red Bull series has included death-defying jumps by Australian freestyle motocross star Robbie Maddison in Las Vegas on the last two New Year's Eves.

Two years ago, Maddison broke the Guinness World Record with a jump of 322 feet, 7½ inches.

Last New Year's Eve, Maddison pulled off his most spectacular stunt yet when he jumped his bike up 120 feet and landed atop a 96-foot high scale version of the Arc de Triomphe at Paris Las Vegas. He then dropped 50 feet onto a landing ramp and stayed on his bike, although he hit his hand hard, causing a bloody laceration.

"Maddo, a good friend of mine, has gone so far beyond what is even realistic on a motorcycle and made it look so easy, that people just expect impossible feats to be entertained," Pastrana said. "No one's really done this with a car. It's a new avenue that I think we can explore and be successful with and really have a good time.

"Because honestly, anything that you do to beat Maddo nowadays, is not going to be a good time. If anything goes wrong, you are going to die."

Pastrana said he's looking for "a hell of a ride."

"Worst-case scenario, I get really excited, I get to hit a jump really fast in a really cool car and I've got a long time to think about it going wrong," he said. "Either way it's going to be a good ride for me. I just really hope it ends well and I can get back to the pier."

Pastrana's jump will be shown live on ESPN.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press