Ken Carter, Kenny Powers, and the St. Lawrence River Jump
So the other day I came across this tweet and immediately had to know more about it:
Trying to jump 1 mile over a river in a rocket-powered Lincoln pic.twitter.com/uMoTDqHpQA— Catastrophic failure (@SafetyFlrst) August 5, 2018
I watch a lot of sportscar enduro, F1 and pretty much anything under the sun that goes fast and let me tell you unless that video is sped up a bit - that car is going faster than 99% of the cars I have seen in my life.
After doing a little research here is what I discovered:
This was a stunt designed by a guy named Ken Carter that wanted to jump the St. Lawrence River in Canada. This jump was going to be over one mile and was going to shatter any previous record by a long shot.
The car was a rocket-powered Lincoln Continental.
The ramp was a 1400 ft monstrosity.
ABC paid $250k for the rights to show it along with the National Film Board of Canada.
I used the word “designed by” above because up until the day of the stunt Ken Carter was supposed to do the stunt but had to cancel the first attempt at the stunt because of mechanical reasons. It looks like he was kinda nervous about a second attempt, and it sounds like the people that had put backing into the feat didn’t want to lose any money if Carter backed out, so it seems they secretly hired another stunt driver Kenny Powers (no, not that Kenny Powers) to do the stunt while they lured Carter to another city.
Powers was in the car when the above tweet’s movie took place. There were bumps on the ramp, the car shook and pretty much melted away at the pinnacle of the slope, however the parachutes did deploy and Powers came down with only 8 broken vertebrae and 3 broken ribs. The car was supposed to get up to 270, however, bumps on the ramp caused Powers to lose acceleration. He was getting thrown around in the car so much he couldn’t keep his foot on the gas and only launched at a mere 180 mph.
The entire five years of making the jump were chronicled by the above mentioned National Film Board of Canada in The Devil at Your Heels. If you fast forward to about 1:32:00 you can see Powers getting pumped up and honestly looking at the body language of everyone it seems like he is really trying (and failing?) to pump himself up while everyone around him has a look about them of “this shit ain’t going to work”.
Honestly, I am glad the guy didn’t die.