TWIN FALLS - Fox Broadcasting says it will air both Snake River Canyon jump attempts by Texas motorcycle daredevil “Big Ed” Beckley and Hollywood stuntman Eddie Braun.
The broadcast will be a live special and has the working title “Jump of The Century.”
Here's how Fox described the event in a Monday press release of its upcoming programming: “This fall, on the 40th anniversary of Evel Knievel’s high-stakes attempt to jump across Idaho’s Snake River Canyon, two very different personalities – professional stuntman Eddie Braun and daredevil Big Ed Beckley – hope to achieve what Knievel could not by crossing the gaping 2,300-foot-deep canyon.”
The canyon is actually 486 feet deep – the jumpers will span a distance between 1,700 feet and 2,800 feet.
“We’re happy in Texas today,” Beckley said Tuesday.
Fox has decided to bill the show as a competition of sorts between the two groups, said Scott Truax, who is building Braun’s steam-powered rocket.
“Hollywood has a formula – everything is a damn competition show these days,” he said. “…They loved Snake River, but unless it is a competition, nobody would watch it, or apparently so it goes. So we are a competition now.”
Beckley said he heard that idea as one of several story lines the broadcast could adopt but has not signed his name to that idea. It was “talked about, but how could you do it?”
“It’s all about making sure Fox gets this jump and nobody else does,” Beckley said. “They didn’t want either one of us going down the street to anyone else, which is smart business. So, they hired us both.”
Beckley said he does not mind sharing the spotlight with another jump team and that there will be plenty of time devoted to each project.
Although Fox wrote that the jump will be broadcast live, Truax said it is yet to be determined whether the jumps will happen on the same day. Originally, the groups had scheduled their events a week apart.
Truax and former business partner Scott Record were one of several teams competing against Beckley at a September Boise auction to lease state land on the north side of the canyon. Beckley won that auction with a $943,000 bid.
Immediately afterward the two, and others, expressed skepticism at Beckley’s idea. Beckley said last Tuesday he does not yet have a motorcycle to train on but will be ready to jump in 124 days.
“I don’t like to use the word impossible,” Truax said of Beckley’s plan. Truax is the son of Bob Truax, who built Evel Knievel’s original rocket. “Anything is possible. Likely? Probable? That’s not for me to determine.”
Beckley said his team will be ready to build the rocket as soon as the check from Fox clears the bank.
“I’ve spent $1.5 million already,” he said. “I’m not going to dump another half a million dollars into a motorcycle until Fox sends us a check, and I know that’s coming quickly, thank God.”
The Texas daredevil said he holds “no animosity” to the other jump and didn’t mind the jabs he’s received from them and other skeptical outsiders.
“If they want to talk smack, let’s go,” he said. “I don’t have a problem with that. There’s always been a lot of people that’s said that back when I was in high school, that ‘Oh, you’re too big to do that.’ Really? I’ve proved ‘em wrong. … I don’t have a problem with proving people wrong – that’s been my life all along.”
Last week, the Jerome County Commission agreed to issue Beckley a conditional mass gathering permit for 10,000 spectators to watch his Sept. 7 event from the north-side landing site.
The permit hinges on Beckley producing several documents, including plans for traffic control and fire suppression, and posting a $50,000 bond 30 days before his event. It also requires Beckley to submit a safety plan to the commission by July 7.
While at the Jerome meeting, he said he received a phone call from the “head” of Fox Broadcasting. The daredevil and company flew to Hollywood two days later to ink the deal.
“It was an amazing trip – it was fun,” he said of visiting “Hollyweird.”
Beckley has leased a two-acre parcel at Pole Line Road and Eastland Drive to jump from.
Initial plans had the Texas daredevil jumping from the same mound of dirt Evel Knievel used during his famous, failed 1974 attempt. But the Twin Falls City Council scuttled Beckley's plans early in the year by voting down his ramp lease application.
Many council members said they didn't think Beckley's rough draft safety plan was enough to keep the city safe from a repeat of Knievel's debacle, which brought a wave of bikers and crime to town.
Beckley’s new launch site, which is under Twin Falls County jurisdiction, is closer to the city than Knievel's famous dirt ramp is. County officials have said that Beckley does not need a permit from them as long as he has fewer than 500 people at the site.
Jerome County officials approved Braun’s jump of the canyon in December after Record steered the project away from the city’s permitting process. Braun plans to launch his rocket from Jerome County and land in Twin Falls County.