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‘Doug Danger’ nails record-breaking motorcycle jump in Sturgis

  • Daredevil Doug Danger leaps across 22 cars and claims a new world record Thursday at the Buffalo Chip campground during the 75th Sturgis motorcycle rally in Sturgis, South Dakota. The Associated Press

    By Kim Ring
    Telegram & Gazette Staff

    Posted Aug. 6, 2015 at 9:39 PM
    Updated Aug 6, 2015 at 11:32 PM

    It was a smooth take-off and a perfect landing for Wales’ Doug Danger as he completed a record-breaking motorcycle jump over 22 cars in Sturgis, South Dakota, Thursday night – a jump that his idol and friend Evel Knievel didn’t complete in 1972.

    And the motorcycle he was riding was Mr. Knievel’s Harley-Davidson XR-750, worth at least $350,000.

    “The mood here is crazy,” Joey Kinch of Newton said in a telephone interview from Sturgis right after the jump. “It was unbelievable.”

    People were packed into the amphitheater at the Buffalo Chip Campground for the attempt at the record. This is Bike Week in Sturgis, and visitors from around the world have descended on the city for the rally, which features performances by big-name musicians and a host of activities. Some folks from Central Massachusetts waited much of the day near the jump site so they could cheer on Doug Danger.

    Doug Danger, whose legal name is Doug Senecal, grew up in Palmer and has been a daredevil for much of his life. When his career took off, he and Mr. Knievel became friends. After battling back from a devastating crash in 1992 and beating stage 4 cancer, he set his sights on completing jumps that Mr. Knievel had unsuccessfully attempted.

    Another rider, Bubba Blackwell, attempted the 22-car jump in 2001 and it nearly took his life.

    On social media, fans and friends were sending encouraging words throughout the day, but perhaps the most touching was a message from Mr. Senecal’s grown daughter wishing her father well.

    In a message back to her he wrote, “I got this one,” along with his trademark phrase, “I’ll see you on the other side.”

    In order to make the jump, Mr. Senecal had to reach a speed of 80 miles per hour. The ramps he used were designed by students at Pathfinder Regional Vocational Technical High School in Palmer and assembled in the Senecals’ yard by several welders, including Mr. Senecal, who learned the craft this year.

    The 22 cars created a jump zone about about 145 feet long, and while the jump was a challenge, it was the landing that was the biggest concern. That’s where many failed jumps go wrong. Mr. Senecal said the weight of the motorcycle and the fact that it was made for racing, not jumping, likely hampered Mr. Knievel’s effort.

    The motorcycle is owned by Lathan McKay, an actor and collector of Evel Knievel memorabilia who had it on display in his museum. He allowed Mr. Senecal to sit on it last year and Mr. Senecal offered to make it “fly.” A few months later, Mr. McKay agreed and plans for the now successful jump were underway.

    In Warren at The Danger Zone bar, which Mr. Senecal owns, a crowd of about 30 regulars watched the jump via a live stream from Sturgis and were “jumping around” with joy after they saw Mr. Senecal, clad in his red, white and blue leathers, hit the landing ramp and make the jump look effortless.

    “There’s a lot of rounds of drinks going around,” said Laurel Rogers, who was working at the bar during the celebration.

    Mr. Kinch said after the jump that he made his way over to congratulate Mr. Senecal, who was swarmed by reporters. His wife, Maria Senecal, was at his side.

    “They’re both pretty emotional,” Mr. Kinch said. “She looked very proud.”

    The Telegram coverage is – HERE

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