Jeff Androsky Talks Robbie Knievel’s New Year’s Eve Jump Over the Mirage Volcano
By Troy Rogers
Although daredevil Evel Knievel became a legend in his own time after attempting to jump the Colorado River in a rocket over the Snake River Canyon and the fountain at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, Evel’s son Robbie Knievel has far surpassed his father’s legacy with many more successful record breaking motorcycle jumps over the years, including conquering the almighty Caesar’s fountain and the Snake River Canyon. And while Evel Knievel’s legacy lives on, Robbie Knievel has gone on to become the world’s greatest daredevil after more than 350 jumps and 20 world records. In 2009, Robbie will be heading overseas to London where he’ll attempt to jump 15 busses using the same Harley XR-750 that his father used at Wembley Stadium in 1975.
Shortly after the clock strikes 12 midnight on New Year’s Eve, as part of Fox’s New Year’s Eve Live broadcast, with performances by American Idol winner David Cook and Stone Temple Pilots front man Scott Weiland, Robbie Knievel will be ushering in 2009 with a hair raising 200-foot jump over the recently renovated erupting Mirage Volcano on to the Las Vegas strip, which will mark the 41st anniversary of Evel Knievel’s bone-crunching jump at Caesars Palace.
With New Year’s Eve only hours away, we tracked down Fox’s New Year’s Eve Live executive producer Jeff Androsky for an exclusive one-on-one chat to find out how he and Robbie are preparing to jump the Mirage Volcano, land safely, and still have time to party while 2009 is still fresh.
THE DEADBOLT: So what can you tell me about the stunt?
JEFF ANDROSKY: Well, it’s Robbie Knieval jumping 200 feet over the Mirage Hotel’s volcano onto the Las Vegas strip. It’s Robbie with a huge fireball between his legs, literally.
THE DEADBOLT: That sounds awesome.
ANDROSKY: Oh, yeah. And it’s been especially fun down here lately since Vegas got about six inches of snow.
THE DEADBOLT: [laughs] I’m guessing that makes things a little trickier.
ANDROSKY: Oh, man. It’s not just the snow but the temperature also effects everything we’ve already done. The temperature effects the tires, which effects the speed of the bike, and if there isn’t enough speed then the jump will be unsuccessful. There’s a lot to take into account – the angle of the ramp, the speed of the bike, the wind, the air temperature – we do a lot of planning and prep work and this weather throws everything off whack.
THE DEADBOLT: It’s strange that I’m talking to you because I was flicking through the channels last night and I saw Evel’s wipe out at Caesars and then a clip of him biting it at Wembley.
ANDROSKY: Oh, Wembley was an awesome jump.
THE DEADBOLT: So how does this jump at the Mirage compare with his jump at Caesars?
ANDROSKY: Back then those bikes that Evel used were so heavy. And the other thing were the shocks they used back then. The shocks that Evel used had about an inch or two of travel to them, which meant they moved up and down by two inches at the most, basically they were too stiff and made the landings extra rough. But the equipment that Robbie uses nowadays is tested and analyzed and very fine tuned, plus the new style shock absorbers help a lot.
THE DEADBOLT: So the old style shocks were the reason Evel would actually land the bike and then get thrown off.
ANDROSKY: Yeah, it was like a pogo stick. Boing!
THE DEADBOLT: Before the snow hit, what were the logistics and preparations for the jump?
ANDROSKY: We were down there testing the bike, setting up the ramp, doing calculations. Robbie is going to come from behind the hotel, jump the volcano, and land on the strip. I’ve been setting this up for six months, getting together with the police, fire department, ambulance – I’ve had to talk to everybody. You know how hard it is to shut down a portion of the strip and provide safety for the event? I had to talk with the fire chief, the police chief…
THE DEADBOLT: So you’re the headache guy?
ANDROSKY: [laughs] Yeah, exactly. The snow is really helping, too.
THE DEADBOLT: So when Robbie successfully pulls off the jump on New Years Eve and he wants to celebrate, what do you guys have planned?
ANDROSKY: After he lands the jump we’ll get to him quick and probably go out and celebrate with everyone in Vegas. You know Robbie, it’s going to be a great time.
— Troy Rogers