Big Ed Beckley — United States
Ed Beckley billed himself as the "World's Largest Motorcycle Jumper". Ed weighed in at over 300 lbs. He outweighed the motorcycles he use to jump. Born in Kansas on July 6, 1950, Ed was inspired to jump bikes when he watched Evel Knievel jump in Hutchinson, Kansas in 1971 at the Kansas State Fair. Evel made the jump over 10 Kenworth trucks and Ed figured he'd like to try that. Of course if Evel crashed that day, Ed may have never tried his hand at jumping.
Above photos: Ed jumping 10 cars in Dayton, Ohio.
Ed did many jumps over his 20 year career. He has also held the jumping record for two people on a bike jumping together. He set that record back in 1984 when he jumped over 5 automobiles. Ed and Stuntwoman Vicki Sims jumped 8 full size cars in Fayetteville, North Carolina at an indoor jump which was set in 1990 on his Harley 600cc. Ed and Vicki jumped 82 feet that night. That record held until Jason Rennie of the UK jumped 5 Lorries at a distance of 96 ft. in 2000.
Left: Jumping a long line of cars and trucks. Right: Double jumping!
Ed still has his Rotax Harley that he rode for the last jump that he performed. The jump took place January 1995 in Amarillo, Texas. He did an indoor jump over 10 cars on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, he couldn't stop and he hit the hay bales and went flying end-over-end into the grandstand to the 5th row! Ed landed right beside a lady who wet herself! That as the last time he jumped.
Left: Jumping 15 full-size cars in Savannah, Georgia. Right: Jumping with his TT 500 in Granite City, Illinois in 1981.
Jumping his TT 500 over 11 full-size cars.
Ed retired from being a motorcycle daredevil after a very successful career. Beckley is alive and doing well and is promoting Monster Truck shows in the Wintertime. Check out his company, Checkered Flag Productions.
12 car jump at the Dayton Ohio Speedway — 1980
It's certain that Ed weighed more than the motorcycle that carried him successfully, at least this time which as at the old Dayton Ohio Speedway back in 1980. This jump was ramp-to-ramp over 12 cars on a very windy Sunday afternoon.
Ed was fearless; it doesn't take much imagination to visualize the extend of damage to a body the size of Ed's if a jump was short a car or two. With up to 30 mph cross wind gusts, he adjusted his ramps to takeoff crooked and to hopefully land straight in the middle of the landing ramp. By the look of the photographs below you can see Big Ed hit his mark.
The question that comes most quickly to mind is this, "What prompts a man this size to get into this line of work?". It's a question that Ed would simply answer, "Well back in Scott City, Kansas where I am from there was not much demand for a 300 pound male prostitute so I had to do something for a living!"
All the Dayton Ohio Speedway photos of Ed Beckley are from Ed's personal collection and are shot by Ralph Bray.
It was a high banked asphalt track with about a 35 mph cross wind. In Kansas they call that a breeze. Anyway, it got really sideways across the middle of the jump and he thought he was going to miss the whole landing ramp, but he fought it and got her back straight and landed hard almost all the way down the landing ramp.
Ed never did the "under the safety ramp" thing so it was a launch for that TT 500 Yamaha. That same motorcycle is now sitting in his reception area in his office in Texas and his Harley Rotax 600 is still in his credenza in his office. The TT 500 and Ed made over a million dollars and he had a blast touring the country from race track to race track. He would do 55 plus shows a year.
Big Ed makes the jump and almost over shot the landing area. In this last photo look how hard the bike landed, with both tires flat and all the suspension used up. It was Beckley's huge arms and strong back that held him onto his motorcycle.
A special thanks goes out to Big Ed Beckley for the use of these photos and for the 20+ years he gave to all the motorcycle jumping fans of the world.