How do you measure the skills of off-road racer and ex-carpenter Joe Sylvester in attempting to set the world record for jumping a monster truck? You could start with this comparison from Travis Pastrana, the NASCAR and X-Games driver who holds the overall record with a 269-ft. jump off the Long Beach Pier in a rally car four years ago: "I've driven a monster truck, and it's the most violent thing you've ever done."
Which helps to explain why Sylvester's record monster truck jump, achieved over the Labor Day weekend at the Cornfield 500 in Columbus, Penn., ranks among the more insane stunts ever recorded.
To claim the record, Sylvester needed to jump his 10,000 lb. Bad Habits monster truck the equivalent height of a three-story building, which meant hitting the takeoff ramp at exactly 85 mph. The land speed record for a monster truck is 86 mph, which gives some indication as to how tough this jump is. "Nobody ever hits a jump going that fast in a monster truck," said Sylvester. "In a stadium format, you're not going even half the speed I was for the record jump."
Sylvester once held the record at 208 ft., but when his jump was recently beaten by eight feet, it "didn't sit too well" with him. After weeks of careful planning, Sylvester claimed back the title on his first attempt -- despite over-rotating, leading to a rather sketchy landing. "If you crash at that speed and that height, it's pretty devastating," said Sylvester, stating the obvious.
With his new jump of 237.6 ft., smashing the previous best by 23 feet, Sylvester expects his record to stand for a while. "It's not a matter of the difficulty," said Sylvester. "It's if they've got the balls to hit a jump at 85 mph, and as far as I know, there's not anybody ready to step up and take that kind of a chance."
If there's one person who boasts the stones, it's Travis Pastrana. After all, he's already mastered the double backflip -- what else is left to do?