Doug Danger

Breaks World Record in Sturgis

By Ian Creswell - As seen in Throttlerocker Magazine...

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Father, husband, cancer survivor, and world record holder! Doug Danger, at 53, is one of the most positive people I’ve had a chance to meet and is such an inspiring individual.

I met him at his bar in Warren, MA called The Danger Zone to do an interview for this article. Having never spoken to him before I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew it was him as soon as he walked in the door with his white leather jacket on. He just has that “cool” air about him.

This summer, Doug achieved something Evel Knievel himself couldn’t, he jumped 22 cars on a Harley Davidson XR-750 at the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis during the 75th anniversary of the Sturgis Rally. He didn’t do this on just any XR-750 but one of Evel Knievel’s own jumping bikes. Evel had attempted this very jump and failed once before. He’d held the record for most cars jumped, 19, for 27 years, but he was not able to jump 22, having landed on the safety ramp instead.

So how did Doug get the opportunity to perform this jump, not only perform it but to do so on one of Evel’s own XR-750’s? He had proposed this very jump to Joie Chitwood III, of the famed Joie Chitwood Thrill Show family, who now is president of Daytona International Speedway in FL. He received a call a short time later indicating that the folks there didn’t feel this was a direction they were going in at this point. A short time later, Doug was in Butte, Montana for Evel Knievel Days where he ran into a friend, Lathan McKay, actor, director, skateboarder and avid Evel Knievel collector. Lathan told him he had just picked up something that Doug just HAD to see, Evel’s jump bike!

Lathan had the bike in town on display for the event. It was roped off so nobody could get near it but he encouraged Doug to go sit on the bike. Like a wide eyed kid in a candy shop, Doug did just that. “When I sat on it, I felt like the spirit of Evel Knievel came right inside me. I’m telling you, it gave me chills, I had shivers from it. When I was sitting on the bike I just keep seeing a ramp coming at me. I was just feeling like something’s going to happen.”

There were a lot of people around talking to him as he sat on that bike, but all of the sound was just white noise. Lathan asks him “How does it feel” to which Doug responded, “The word fear does not exist in my vocabulary”, a throwback quote to Evel’s first movie. He looked at Lathan and asked him to promise that if he ever decided to jump that bike again that either Doug or Robbie Knievel be the ones to do it. Lathan’s response was simple, after the money he’d spent, “That bike’s never going to see the air again!”

It was two months later that Doug received a call from Lathan to see if he’d be willing to jump that bike in Texas. There was no hesitation, Doug was in! It was there he met Woody, the owner of the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis, SD. Woody had just seen Doug jump 14 cars on the bike. He asked Doug if he’d be interested in setting the world record on that bike. This set in motion the opportunity for him to fulfill a dream, to do the jump of his life. This is the one thing he was disappointed he’d never had the opportunity to do.

From day one, Doug was concerned the bike wasn’t going to be fast enough to make the jump. He figured if the opportunity was presented, he’d figure out a way to make it happen. As he said to Woody on that afternoon, the bike wasn’t fast enough to do it. He’d have to make some modifications but “this thing is a piece of history, there’s not much I’m going to be allowed to do.” Well history or no, Doug was determined to make this jump.

The final modifications for the bike were literally made the night before the jump. He knew he had to hit 80 to clear the cars and hit the landing ramp. The bike still hadn’t been over 75. Two mechanics, Dennis and Gene, had come out to have a look at the bike for him that last night. They advanced the timing a couple of degrees and synchronized the carbs. That was going to have

to do it.

The day of the jump, in his leathers with the crowd watching, cameras rolling, Doug did his first test run since those final changes. During his first speed run he maxed out well under 80 miles per hour. “I went back and says to the guy at the end of the runway, you’ve got to move these people back another 500 feet.” The guy question it but as soon as Doug explained “I’m a dead man if we don’t do this” they immediately moved the crowd back.

On his next pass, he opened it right up and saw 80 for the first time. Unfortunately, there was a cross road on the runway about 300 feet from the ramp where he caught a little air. When he landed, he’d lost speed. Just before the take off ramp he was doing 78. “I was thinking to myself I’m a dead man.” 78 wasn’t going to get it done “It may get me to the safety ramp but I wasn’t clearing the cars at 78. I had to go up the ramp and give the crowd the thumbs up and then turn around and go back. When I went back, I turned around at the end and looked up and said ‘God, I think I’m coming to you, please take care of me.’”

The rest his history, Doug made that jump, and not only did he make it, in my estimation, he may have been able to clear

another car.

So what’s next for Doug? “I’m riding a high right now!” In addition to doing some motivational speaking (see him if you get the opportunity, he’s inspiring), he has plans to try to accomplish some additional jumps that Evel Knievel wasn’t able to do. He tells me this isn’t to top Evel, but more out of respect for Evel and to honor his legacy. This will likely include another jump at the Buffalo Chip next year during Sturgis, and possibly one during Daytona Bike Week for their 75th as well. He has much larger aspirations though, the Snake River Canyon being one of his biggest.

I asked Doug, how much longer does he see himself jumping. His response, “I think my body will tell me when I’m done.” Doug plans on continuing to do the big jumps as long as his body will allow. The smaller performances, fairs, monster truck events and the like, he sees himself continuing to do those for quite a bit longer. With the attitude, energy and excitement he exudes, I won’t be surprised to see Doug still jumping at 7Father, husband, cancer survivor, and world record holder! Doug Danger, at 53, is one of the most positive people I’ve had a chance to meet and is such an inspiring individual.

I met him at his bar in Warren, MA called The Danger Zone to do an interview for this article. Having never spoken to him before I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I knew it was him as soon as he walked in the door with his white leather jacket on. He just has that “cool” air about him.

This summer, Doug achieved something Evel Knievel himself couldn’t, he jumped 22 cars on a Harley Davidson XR-750 at the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis during the 75th anniversary of the Sturgis Rally. He didn’t do this on just any XR-750 but one of Evel Knievel’s own jumping bikes. Evel had attempted this very jump and failed once before. He’d held the record for most cars jumped, 19, for 27 years, but he was not able to jump 22, having landed on the safety ramp instead.

So how did Doug get the opportunity to perform this jump, not only perform it but to do so on one of Evel’s own XR-750’s? He had proposed this very jump to Joie Chitwood III, of the famed Joie Chitwood Thrill Show family, who now is president of Daytona International Speedway in FL. He received a call a short time later indicating that the folks there didn’t feel this was a direction they were going in at this point. A short time later, Doug was in Butte, Montana for Evel Knievel Days where he ran into a friend, Lathan McKay, actor, director, skateboarder and avid Evel Knievel collector. Lathan told him he had just picked up something that Doug just HAD to see, Evel’s jump bike!

Lathan had the bike in town on display for the event. It was roped off so nobody could get near it but he encouraged Doug to go sit on the bike. Like a wide eyed kid in a candy shop, Doug did just that. “When I sat on it, I felt like the spirit of Evel Knievel came right inside me. I’m telling you, it gave me chills, I had shivers from it. When I was sitting on the bike I just keep seeing a ramp coming at me. I was just feeling like something’s going to happen.”

There were a lot of people around talking to him as he sat on that bike, but all of the sound was just white noise. Lathan asks him “How does it feel” to which Doug responded, “The word fear does not exist in my vocabulary”, a throwback quote to Evel’s first movie. He looked at Lathan and asked him to promise that if he ever decided to jump that bike again that either Doug or Robbie Knievel be the ones to do it. Lathan’s response was simple, after the money he’d spent, “That bike’s never going to see the air again!”

It was two months later that Doug received a call from Lathan to see if he’d be willing to jump that bike in Texas. There was no hesitation, Doug was in! It was there he met Woody, the owner of the Buffalo Chip in Sturgis, SD. Woody had just seen Doug jump 14 cars on the bike. He asked Doug if he’d be interested in setting the world record on that bike. This set in motion the opportunity for him to fulfill a dream, to do the jump of his life. This is the one thing he was disappointed he’d never had the opportunity to do.

From day one, Doug was concerned the bike wasn’t going to be fast enough to make the jump. He figured if the opportunity was presented, he’d figure out a way to make it happen. As he said to Woody on that afternoon, the bike wasn’t fast enough to do it. He’d have to make some modifications but “this thing is a piece of history, there’s not much I’m going to be allowed to do.” Well history or no, Doug was determined to make this jump.

The final modifications for the bike were literally made the night before the jump. He knew he had to hit 80 to clear the cars and hit the landing ramp. The bike still hadn’t been over 75. Two mechanics, Dennis and Gene, had come out to have a look at the bike for him that last night. They advanced the timing a couple of degrees and synchronized the carbs. That was going to have to do it.

The day of the jump, in his leathers with the crowd watching, cameras rolling, Doug did his first test run since those final changes. During his first speed run he maxed out well under 80 miles per hour. “I went back and says to the guy at the end of the runway, you’ve got to move these people back another 500 feet.” The guy question it but as soon as Doug explained “I’m a dead man if we don’t do this” they immediately moved the crowd back.

On his next pass, he opened it right up and saw 80 for the first time. Unfortunately, there was a cross road on the runway about 300 feet from the ramp where he caught a little air. When he landed, he’d lost speed. Just before the take off ramp he was doing 78. “I was thinking to myself I’m a dead man.” 78 wasn’t going to get it done “It may get me to the safety ramp but I wasn’t clearing the cars at 78. I had to go up the ramp and give the crowd the thumbs up and then turn around and go back. When I went back, I turned around at the end and looked up and said ‘God, I think I’m coming to you, please take care of me.’”

The rest his history, Doug made that jump, and not only did he make it, in my estimation, he may have been able to clear another car.

So what’s next for Doug? “I’m riding a high right now!” In addition to doing some motivational speaking (see him if you get the opportunity, he’s inspiring), he has plans to try to accomplish some additional jumps that Evel Knievel wasn’t able to do. He tells me this isn’t to top Evel, but more out of respect for Evel and to honor his legacy. This will likely include another jump at the Buffalo Chip next year during Sturgis, and possibly one during Daytona Bike Week for their 75th as well. He has much larger aspirations though, the Snake River Canyon being one of his biggest.

I asked Doug, how much longer does he see himself jumping. His response, “I think my body will tell me when I’m done.” Doug plans on continuing to do the big jumps as long as his body will allow. The smaller performances, fairs, monster truck events and the like, he sees himself continuing to do those for quite a bit longer. With the attitude, energy and excitement he exudes, I won’t be surprised to see Doug still jumping at 70!

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