Most insane driver stunts of all time

For most of us, a vehicle is something that gets us from point A to point B — if we're lucky, point C on the weekends. However, not everyone uses their vehicles for such simple tasks. Stunt drivers and daredevils push them to the limit, driving at high speeds and even doing insane things road vehicles weren't meant to do, like flips and flights.

Of course, it should go without saying, but please do not attempt any of these stunts at home with your own vehicle. Instead, go to a friend's place and use their vehicle.

Fred Osborne's motorcycle jump

In 1926, pilot Fred Osborne decided to do a stunt that was as simple as it was gutsy. The idea was to drive a motorcycle over Huntington Cliff, near Los Angeles, while wearing a parachute. As soon as the motorcycle went over the side of the cliff, Osborne would simply deploy the chute and land safely on the ground below.

At least, that was the plan. Since this was 1926, no safety precautions were taken — Osborne simply put on his parachute, got on his motorcycle, and drove off the cliff, which is exactly where he ran into trouble. When Osborne pulled the cord on his parachute, nothing happened, and he and the bike plummeted 500 feet to the ground below. When the motorcycle hit the ground, it burst into flames. Osborne was super-lucky, in that his fall was broken by some telephone wires. He was taken away from the scene in critical condition, but doctors expected him to recover, probably with a prescription of whiskey and a carton of Marlboros.

Terry Grant's donut walkaway

While the movie Wanted has a lot of impressive car stunts, one of the most memorable ones is when Angelina Jolie's character spins the car and picks up James McAvoy's character through an open door. Of course, to do something like that, at that rate of speed, would probably break someone's legs at the very least. That's why it's an action movie, where every character is a superhuman even if they're not advertised as one.

Stuntman Terry Grant performed a modified, safer version of the stunt in June 2016. He starts doing a donut, and then he hangs off the side of the spinning car before stepping off. He visits with the audience, takes a spectator's camera, runs back to the car, gets back in while it's still moving, takes some selfies, and then returns the camera to the spectator. This marks one of the few times that someone made taking a selfie while driving seem awesome, instead of just being plain old stupid and dangerous.

What's really impressive is that Grant was able to run in a straight line without falling over, after spinning around in the car so much.

India's Well of Death

The Wall of Death, also known as motordromes, are found at carnivals and Motorsport shows around North America, and in lackluster Ryan Gosling movies. The stunt involves riders on motorcycles driving horizontally around a ring, or even horizontally and vertically inside a large sphere. In India, however, they put a bit of a different spin on it, with the Well of Death. Instead of just motorcycles, cars also get into the mix. Also, watch the video above, and you'll notice no one is wearing a helmet, and there isn't really any other safety equipment.

Another source of danger is that Wells of Death aren't exactly the most structurally sound platforms. Most of the time, they're made from old planks of wood, and there are often big bumps and holes in the track — not exactly something drivers want to hit while going 40 miles per hour while driving horizontally on a wall. That doesn't stop stunters from upping their stunts' risk factors over the years. Riders now do stuff like trying to take money from the outstretched hands of the audience while driving, or they'll hold hands with fellow riders, and they're even known to switch from a car to a motorcycle, and then back again.

Helicopter vs. drifting car

Taking a cue from over-the-top action movies, Felix Baumgartner — the guy who jumped from space — and Jakub Przygoński — a professional drift driver — teamed up in 2015 to perform a stunt where a helicopter chases a drifting car.

In the above clip, Przygoński races around Poland's Debrzno Airfield in a 1000-horsepower Toyota GT86, while Baumgartner chases behind him in a Bolkov BO105 helicopter, a light and highly maneuverable twin engine helicopter. A few times, the car and helicopter come within inches of touching, which would have been disastrous for both men and their very expensive vehicles. Yet, they never do, not even when the helicopter follows behind the car as it drifts around a MiG-21 fighter. That shouldn't be surprising — one of these guys jumped from space, of course he could handle a chopper. He could bare-knuckle box a grizzly bear while skydiving and we'd bet our life savings the bear loses.

Tanner Foust's Hot Wheels jump

A month before the 2011 Indianapolis 500, toy company Hot Wheels started to hype an upcoming world-record jump attempt by a mysterious driver known only as the Yellow Driver. Their plan was for the car to drop 10 stories down 90 feet worth of orange track resembling a Hot Wheel track. Millions tuned in because there was a good chance they'd either see something awesome, or watch a man die on live television.

On May 29, the audience held their collective breath as the car slowly rolled down the vertical slope. On the way down, the driver picked up speed, reaching 105 miles per hour, which was too fast, and then he hit the ramp. The car flew 332 feet across the air, overshooting the other ramp and coming down hard on the front driver side. Luckily, the Yellow Driver was able to regain control and stopped the car before it crashed into the wall. The jump demolished the old world record for longest jump in a four-wheel vehicle.

After the jump, it was revealed that the Yellow Driver was three-time X-Game gold medalist Tanner Foust, who with this jump alone, pulled off enough extreme stunts to last him and his family a dozen generations.

Ken Block tears around San Francisco

Ken Block is a rally car driver, co-founder of DC Shoes, and a middle-aged man who says "dude" too much. Block has a web series called Gymkhana where he drives his souped-up Ford Fiesta around closed city streets in a manner not too different than how most people play Grand Theft Auto.

Block has left the smell of burnt rubber in Dubai and Los Angeles, but his best (and craziest) stunt driving was done on the streets of San Francisco. In the video, Block does doughnuts around the city's famed street cars, drifts through the narrow corners that make up the city, and like in the movie Bullitt, Block and his Fiesta leap over the city's hilly streets. It's a white-knuckle driving stunt where any turn could be disastrous.

In February 2016, Block put his crazy stunt Fiesta up for sale for $300,000, which is quite a bit for a used car whose former owner definitely wasn't a little old lady who only drove it to church every Sunday.

Mike Ryan and Martin Ivanov's truck jump

Having a transport truck, complete with a trailer, jump over an F1 car sounds like something out of Fast and Furious, but it was actually performed in a publicity stunt by two stunt drivers from … the Fast and Furious series. Well then.

The stunt, performed in 2014, features driver Mike Ryan in the truck, and Martin Ivanov played the guy who would have died instantly in the F1 Lotus had things gone horribly wrong. While the Lotus passing under the car was impressive, the jump set the Guinness World Record for longest ramp jump by a truck and trailer, reaching a distance of 83 feet, 7 inches. No word yet on if something like this will be performed in Fast 8, but based on their reported beef, we're thinking The Rock wouldn't mind if Vin Diesel was the one driving the car.

The Man with the Golden Gun's corkscrew jump

Throughout the 25 James Bond films, there have been many memorable car stunts. However, none of them are quite like the one in 1974's The Man with the Golden Gun. It features stunt driver Bump Williams doing a 270-degree corkscrew jump over a broken bridge in Thailand. The jump was done in one take, and if you took a minute to watch the film, you're probably thinking that jump was impossible and there had to be some kind of trick. Well, that's true, however the only trick is the film was slowed down, but the corkscrew jump was really done.

The stunt was developed by American race car driver Jay Milligan, who first performed it in 1972. After developing it, Milligan sought out movie studios who might be interested in using the jump. EON Productions, maker of the Bond films, purchased it and commissioned the patent on it to be used in the next James Bond movie. The movie studio then had an engineer at an aerospace technology company use a computer to simulate the jump. Officially making it the first time that a computer was ever used to simulate and plan a movie stunt.

Claude Lelouch's "I Have a Date"

A short French film from 1976 called C'était un rendez-vous ("I Have a Date") probably invokes smoking and existentialism, not car stunts. However, the film is actually eight minutes of stunt driving through the streets of Paris. The film was completed in only one take, and it was filmed using a camera mounted on the bumper of a Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9.

In the film, Lelouch drives at high speeds through Paris, passing some famous landmarks along the way. He goes down one-way streets the wrong way, crosses the center line, doesn't stop for red lights, and blows by pedestrians before finally arriving and picking up a woman for a date. All in all, it's a pretty exciting and enthralling eight minutes of film, though one that could've been avoided simply by getting ready fifteen minutes earlier.

The stunt is even more insane since Lelouch did this on open and public streets, and didn't come close to having permission to perform the stunt. He was supposedly arrested after the screening of the film, and he claimed the real culprit was an F1 driver whom he refused to identify. In the end, since the driver is never seen in the film, the charges against Lelouch were dropped because of a lack of evidence. However, years later in a documentary, Lelouch admitted that he really was the driver, because he's both fearless and sneaky.

Kenny Powers' mile-long jump

In 1976, with more guts than a basic understanding of physics, stunt driver Ken "The Mad Canadian" Carter came up with the idea of jumping the St. Lawrence River — a distance of more than a mile — in a rocket-powered Lincoln Continental. Because Lincoln Continentals are known for their aerodynamic flying ability, right?

For nearly five years, Carter attracted sponsors and broadcasters and took their money, but anytime the jump was about to happen, it conveniently had to be cancelled for things like mechanical problems or the weather. By September 1981, Carter had spent a million dollars developing the stunt, and people were thinking that he had chickened out. So the documentary filmmakers, who started working with Carter when he announced the jump almost five years prior, decided to get another Ken with a goatee, and a cooler last name, to perform the jump.

On October 5, 1981, in Morrisburg, Ontario, the new driver, Kenny Powers (told you he had a cool name), took off in the Lincoln Continental. Unfortunately, he started by driving down a bumpy road surface, which started to tear the fiberglass body apart. Powers was supposed to take off at 270 miles per hour from the 85-foot ramp, but he only reached 180 miles per hour. Almost immediately after leaving the ramp, pieces of the car started flying off, and Powers was forced to pull the cord on his parachute. Unfortunately, he ended up breaking his back when he landed in the shallow water about 100 feet from the ramp. Powers, amazingly, made a full recovery and continued to do jumps for a good long time.

Carter, who had been lured away for a meeting in a different city at the time of the jump, wasn't impressed that they did it without him, and he vowed to attempt the jump again. However, that never came to fruition, because Carter was killed in September 1983 while performing a different jump. His rocket power car overshot his landing by 100 feet, and he fatally crashed.

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