Bubba Blackwell performs stunts on a Harley FLHTCU
October 4, 1966
Bon Secour, Alabama, US
Bubba Blackwell is an American stunt performer and motorcycle jumping world record holder who is sponsored by and promoted by Harley-Davidson Motorcycles. Prior to his association with Harley-Davidson, Blackwell was sponsored by the now-defunct Buell Motorcycle Company (Buell was partnered with Harley-Davidson Motorcycles before becoming defunct in October, 2009).
Bubba Blackwell began his career on April 26, 1998, when he jumped 20 cars in Everett, Massachusetts, breaking the 19 car record held by Evel Knievel. The following year, on July 4, 1999 during an airing of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Blackwell jumped 14 buses at Del Mar Fair in California, tying the record held by Knievel, who leapt 14 buses at Kings Island in 1975 (although Knievel's rear tire touched the 14th bus, his landing was successful). Five months later, Blackwell broke Knievel's bus-jumping record by jumping 15 buses.
Blackwell broke Knievel's last remaining jump record on a Harley-Davidson XR-750 by jumping 52 stacked cars on October 4, 2008. The jump took place at the Deep South Speedway located between Pensacola, Florida and Mobile, Alabama. The jump also marked Blackwells's 41st birthday.
On July 4, 2001, Blackwell attempted to beat his own record, attempting to jump 22 cars at Del Mar Fair. The Del Mar track was a soft dirt horse track and Blackwell lost traction and was unable to obtain the necessary speed to clear the jump. He came up short and crashed.
Return to jumping
Following the Del Mar crash, Blackwell retired from jumping and limited performances to the Buell stunt show. However, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of Harley-Davidson, Blackwell returned to jumping his Harley-Davidson XR-750 at Ukes Harley-Davidson Motorcycle Dealer in Kenosha, Wisconsin on August 30, 2003 .
Blackwell is still periodically jumping the XR-750. In 2013, Blackwell jumped over two helicopters with their blades rotating. He also returned to Ukes Harley-Davidson for a jump to celebrate the 110th Anniversary of Harley-Davidson.
During a show, Blackwell rotates through several motorcycles, including:
- A Harley-Davidson XR-1200 (stunt bike)
- A Harley-Davidson VRSC (stunt bike)
- A Harley-Davidson Super Glide (stunt bike)
- A Harley-Davidson FLHTCU (stunt bike)
- A Harley-Davidson XR-750 (jump bike)
Before Buell went out of business in 2009, Blackwell was sponsored by the Harley-Davidson subsidy and his stunt shows also included the Buell Blast and the Buell Lighting. Between 2010 and 2013, Blackwell discontinued using the Buell motorcycles. However, in 2014, Blackwell returned to using the Buells in his stunt shows.
One of the highlights of the stunt show was Blackwell lifting the front wheel, doing a motorcycle wheelie, on his street-legal Harley-Davidson FLHTCU outfitted with the 110 cubic inch twin cam engine. Blackwell also performs burnouts, including going through all 5-speeds of his custom Harley-Davidson Super Glide. The burn-outs often end with the rear tire of the motorcycle blowing.
Toward the end of the Buell sponsorship, Blackwell toured with Team Bubba, which included two other stunt riders other than himself performing stunts on the Buell motorcycles. However, with the liquidation of Buell Motorcycles, Blackwell exclusively performs stunts with the Harley-Davidson twin-cam engine motorcycles and jumps on the Harley-Davidson XR-750.
Heirs to the Dare
On March 10, 2014, Discovery Channel premiered the television show, Heirs to the Dare, featuring Blackwell. Heirs to the Dare also featured stunt performers Henry "Pitbull" Rife and Super Joe Reed. The Discovery Channel describes Blackwell as "best known for breaking Evel Knievel's jump records for both cars and buses. He's known as "king of the Harley" and he's had some really bad falls with 42 broken bones, to date. Bubba attempts jumps over objects that include helicopters with blades in full rotation as he earns big dollars for big jumps to support his family."
- Michael Burge (July 4, 2002), "Daredevil Bubba Bounces Back", The San Diego Union - Tribune, San Diego, Calif.
- Associated Press (July 31, 1999), "Bubba: Stunt King", New York Post, New York, NY
- Perry, Tony (July 6, 2001), "Daredevil Injured When Jump Goes Awry", The Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles, CA
- "Untitled". Shockwave (TV series). 2008-05-23. A+E Networks. History. http://tv.msn.com/tv/episode/shockwave/untitled.17/. Retrieved 2013-03-17.
- Lieback, Ron. All About Bikes Magazine, Feb. 2010
- Jarret Bencks. "Lack of ticket sales cancels stunt event at The Rock".
- Discovery Tackles Daredevil Stunts on ‘Heirs to the Dare' Special, The Wrap, March 3, 2014
- Discovery Channel, "Heirs to the Dare" promotional description, discovery.com, 2014