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We may no longer live in the golden age of the stuntman, with names like Evel Knievel attempting death-defying stunts. But don't believe that everything that can be done with a car or motorcycle has been done. These five recent stunts prove there is no end to risk-taking and daredevilry.
Tanner Foust's World Record Jump
Leading up to the 2011 Indianapolis 500, toy-carmaker Hot Wheels promoted a special event to be held on the Sunday of the race: Team Hot Wheels and its mysterious Yellow Driver planned to break the world record for longest jump by a four-wheel vehicle just before the start of the 500. Building up speed while flying down a ramp made to look like the classic orange plastic of a Hot Wheels playset, the specially prepared truck flew 332 feet before coming down for a dramatic landing at the hands of stunt driver and TV host Tanner Foust, later revealed to be the wheelman.
Rhys Millen Attempts Trophy Truck Backflip
Completing a backflip in the Red Bull trophy truck became something of a white whale for Rhys Millen after an unsuccessful attempt in Las Vegas late in 2007 left him with five fractured vertebrae. Undaunted, Millen healed up in time to make another run at the elusive backflip just a year later. On New Year's Eve, as 2008 drew to a close and 2009 began, Millen's Red Bull truck pierced the night sky. Millen rotated the full 360 degrees before coming down into an unfortunate landing that saw him wreck once again, though this time he escaped unharmed. Having come so close to attaining his goal, Millen vowed to try again, but to date no such attempt has been made.
Flipping a MINI in the Alps
Earlier this year, video of a Mini Countryman doing a backflip started popping up on car enthusiast websites. The crazy trick combined with the scenic Alpine setting garnered a lot of attention for Guerlain Chicherit, the French rally driver and daredevil who pulled off the stunt after four years of preparation. Chicherit's modified Countryman had to hit the ramp at 37 mph to achieve the proper rotation. In doing so, he became the first person to pull off a 360-degree flip in a car. More impressive: That was the second flip Chicherit performed that day—he had done one during a practice run before the crowd arrived.
Travis Pastrana Jumps Rally Car 269 Feet
After Rhys Millen's oh-so-close attempt at backflipping a trophy truck on New Year's Eve 2008, the gang at Red Bull decided to take it easy as 2009 drew to a close. No, just kidding. We're talking about Red Bull here. To close out 2009, the company decided to see if Travis Pastrana could jump a rally car farther than anyone ever had before. The jump would see him take off from Long Beach, California's Pine Avenue Pier and land on a barge anchored in the harbor. The result was a record-shattering 269-foot jump (the old record was held by Ken Block at 171 feet) that saw Pastrana land at such high speed he had to turn his Subaru STI sideways and use the barrier at the end of the track to stop.
Ken Block Leaves His Tires in San Francisco
For the fifth installment of his incredibly popular Gymkhana video series, Ken Block took his famous Ford Fiesta antics onto public roads for the first time, running roughshod over the streets of San Francisco. Not so much a single stunt as a game of one-upmanship between two hyper-imaginative third-graders made real, Gymkhana 5 makes full use of the hills and winding roads of San Francisco. Take 10 minutes to watch Block tear through the city and beyond to the hills overlooking San Francisco—spending most of that time sideways.
[Related: How to Jump a Car Like a Stunt Pro]