SI Vault
 
Strange Stunts
Kim Chapin
March 12, 1979
The side of his truck says it all. Chuck Strange and his trusted bodyguard Sommer Shadoe are ready, willing and—between hospital stays—able to crash through burning walls and leap 18 cars in a single bound
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
March 12, 1979

Strange Stunts

The side of his truck says it all. Chuck Strange and his trusted bodyguard Sommer Shadoe are ready, willing and—between hospital stays—able to crash through burning walls and leap 18 cars in a single bound

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10

He realized it was not enough to do what others had done before him, even if he did it better. Ramp-to-ramp acts in cars and on motorcycles were becoming commonplace, and he wondered what was left. Trucks, he decided. Pickup trucks.

In late 1975 he approached a Phoenix Chevrolet dealer named Buzz Sands, whom Strange fondly calls the ugliest Chevy dealer in the country, with his idea. Sands agreed to supply the trucks, and on June 18, 1976—Strange's 26th birthday—he made what he claims was the first planned pickup flight ever. The jump was performed at the Phoenix Dragway, and although he had finally gotten the angle of his takeoff ramp squared away, he still hadn't quite mastered the landing. He broke his left heel, a few more ribs, dislocated his elbows and got stung by a bee. This was his second "fatal." He was paid exactly $60.

Still, it was all worthwhile. "I had finally found something," he says. "It was new and unique, and I was the first."

Chuck Strange had his act.

A secondary reason for that particular jump was to get the thing photographed so he could provide hard evidence of what he was up to for the benefit of wary promoters who didn't quite believe that it could be done. He remembers one telephone call in particular, to a promoter in the South, in which dialect proved to be a great obstacle to his obtaining a booking:

Strange: Do you want a pickup jump?

Promoter: We got somebody to pick up our junk.

Strange: No, no. A pickup jump.

Promoter [pause]: Well, how much do you charge?

Strange: Oh, about two, uh, three thousand.

Continue Story
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10