Victory Motorcycles Announces Snake River Jump Plans

Announcement this morning details plans for Victory General Manager Mark Blackwell, a former pro motocrosser, to follow in Evel Knievel's wheel tracks.

We received the following release from Victory Motorcycles this morning, which announces a plan for Victory's General Manager, former AMA 500cc National Motocross Champion Mark Blackwell, to jump the Snake River Canyon 30 years after Evel Knievel attempted the feat in a rocket "motorcycle" and as part of the 50th anniversary celebration for Victory's parent, Polaris Industries.

We attempted to reach Blackwell for comment, but were told that he was "in Idaho for the remainder of the week practicing." The release from Victory follows:

_ Victory to Celebrate Polaris 50th Anniversary with Jump Over Snake River Canyon
GM Mark Blackwell to Jump Victory Vegas Over Legendary Canyon

MEDINA, MN, April 1, 2004 — Victory Motorcycles is going to new heights to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its parent company, Polaris Industries, by having the bike division's General Manager, Mark Blackwell, jump the Snake River Canyon on a Victory Vegas.

Blackwell will make the jump on July 24, 2004, and it will be televised live to the crowd attending the Polaris 50th Anniversary Celebration in St. Paul, Minnesota.

This is the same canyon that motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel attempted to clear in the X-1 Skycycle on September 8, 1974. Knievel did not clear the 1,580-foot canyon but he landed safely as a parachute slowed his vehicle's descent.

"This Victory jump will be doubly memorable because it celebrates the Polaris 50th as well as the 30th anniversary of Evel's attempt," said Blackwell. "We're doing it to pay tribute to Polaris and entertain the company employees, dealers and customers as they celebrate back in Minnesota,"

While Knievel was inside a rocket-like vehicle with two wheels, Blackwell will be on a nearly stock Vegas. "We've removed a few parts to reduce the bike's weight, and I'm using hard-compound tires, but that's about it," said Blackwell, who won the AMA's first 500cc motocross national championship in 1972 and was inducted into the AMA Hall of Fame in 2000.

Knievel launched the Skycycle off a steep 300-foot ramp and had hoped to land about 400 feet beyond the far edge of the canyon, making his goal a leap — or, more accurately, a "flight" — of about 1,980 feet.

"I've cleared 2,000 easily on practice jumps, and I even overshot the landing ramp a time or two when I built up too much approach speed," Blackwell said. "The key to a smooth jump is throttle restraint on the run-up ramp. The ponies in our Freedom(TM) V-twin like to run, but I've got to make sure I don't exceed my target speed. Once I'm airborne, I'll just sit back and enjoy the ride."

Victory and a national broadcast network are currently discussing the possibility of airing the jump live. Details such as the broadcast time and network will be announced once plans are finalized.

"It will be great viewing for motorsports enthusiasts at home, and for me, it's a great riding opportunity," Blackwell said. "When the idea was first suggested, I said 'I love it. I hope you're not fooling!'"

About Polaris

Information about the complete line of Polaris products is available from authorized Polaris dealers or from the Polaris homepage at

2004 marks the 50th Anniversary of Polaris Industries. Celebrations will be held in Roseau, Minnesota, birthplace of Polaris, on June 18-19, 2004 and a worldwide celebration will take place in St. Paul at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds on July 24, 2004. Visit or call 1-800-POLARIS for more information. Happy April Fools!!


Blackwell says the speed of his Vegas on launch will be critical.