– Norm Gray
Norm Gray — Australia
Norm Gray is a motorcycle dardevil living in New South Wales, Australia. Norm was born on 13th February 1961, and was the right age to be strongly influenced by one Evel Knievel. From a young age this was Norm's chosen path in life, and at 16 he started to assemble what would be the makings of his first show. During this time, Norm became a close friend of Dale Buggins, and today remains in touch with Dale's father. Dale's death was harder than any crash from a motorcycle that Norm had experienced before or since.
Norm went on to perform a motorcycle stunt show during the late 1970's and into the 1980's, achieving a reputation for his daring and his skill. Life pressures took their toll and Norm spent 15 years away from motorcycles, but his return was inevitable. He again assembled the makings of a stunt show in 1999 and commenced practicing in earnest. He remains convinced that his Yamaha YZs are the best jumping bikes and won't ride anything else. His longest jump has been 176 feet 5 inches ramp-to-ground, and despite holding onto the landing, the jolt caused Norm to fracture 2 vertebrae in his back. He had an enforced 12-month layoff.
Above: Norm Gray and Dale Buggins, 1979 | Norm doing a one foot wheelie.
In the arena Norm has only had two falls, one laying his bike into a fence following an 18 car jump in a small arena, and the other in 2001 when he landed short on a 12 car jump, in an arena with limited run up room. Norm told his family and close friends on the morning of this jump that he just couldn't make the distance in this size arena. The concern is evident during the pre show interviews despite the ever-present showmanship. Norm's lead up to this show had not been ideal.
His last practice session four weeks earlier had gone badly. Glare from a polished ramp had momentarily blinded Norm and caused him to crash during practice for a relatively straight forward stunt. He injured his wrist, ribs and punctured a crankcase. He then performed four practice jumps during the next hour. The last of which resulted in the suspension bottoming out and the frame hitting the ground. The force transmitted through his ankle causing it to fracture.
Norm would not back out on the show. The day before he cut the plaster cast from his leg, traded crutches for a walking stick and went to the arena to set-up for the show. Norm climbed on the bike and did a few speed runs and wheelies. He moved the ramp a little toward the landing end of the arena, preferring to hit the safety bales at the end of the arena rather than land short. On the morning of the show, Norm busied himself loading pyrotechnics, polishing the gear and doing pre-show press interviews. Lawrence Legend called in unexpectedly to wish Norm well, and add his support.
Following a grand entrance Norm performed a series of precision wheelies and spectacular pre jump stunts as the cars were assembled onto the arena. Promoters pleaded with Norm to only attempt 10 cars but the press had all been about 12 cars. With the 11th and 12th cars in place Norm lined up the takeoff ramp from a standing start. Traction was hard to find, and despite a second gear start, Norm was unable to gain speed and it was clear he was in trouble. The takeoff was good and the flight was level, but Norm's rear wheel struck the 12th car. Norm was still on the bike when the front wheel hit the ground catapulting him onto his left shoulder and head.
He knew immediately that his shoulder was his most serious injury, but after climbing to his feet to let the kids know he was okay, and talking to the crowd, Norm was taken by paramedics to hospital for a series of scans and x-rays. Norm suffered dizzy spells for about four months, was unable to use his left shoulder for about 12 weeks and was unable to use his ankle properly for 10 months. He is now confident that it has healed sufficiently to endure the impact of motorcycle jumping.
Norm is now planning for his greatest stunt, as he attempts to jump 2.4 kilometres across Sydney Heads on a rocket-assisted cycle. We will supply regular updates as the plans progress for this spectacular event. Norm hopes to gather a strong contingent of stuntmen from around the world to wish him well on this journey.
Thanks to Norm Gray for all the info.
1990's - 2000's