"I'm going to have to do something," he says. "It's going to be hard to keep me down. I just can't go home and lick my wounds for another year."
Even if he is never able to fly again, Strange feels his place in stunt-driving history is secure. "I think I'll be in a book of daredevils, if any is ever written," he says. "I think I have contributed."
Strange also understands that his future success depends as much on his ability to keep himself in the public eye during his present prolonged convalescence as it does on the spectacular nature of the stunts he is willing to perform. To this end, he keeps his phone lines humming to every journalistic enterprise he can think of, from specialty magazines such as Truckin' Magazine and AutoWeek to the Los Angeles Times, CBS, and yes, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED. He asks every reporter who happens by, "How can I get into
Us? Who do you call at Esquire? Would PEOPLE or LIFE be interested?"
And he plans his grand finales, all three of them.
In the first, he will fly a pickup truck ramp to ramp across 40 cars, a distance of 200 feet. "I want to jump so damn many cars that nobody will break my records," he says.
In the second, he will fly ramp to ramp, not in a car, not in a pickup, not on a motorcycle, but in an 18-wheel truck. "It is possible," he says.
In the third...well, the absolutely last thing that he will ever do is the Sky Crash. In the Sky Crash, he will take off from one ramp at the same time that another pickup, which he will operate by remote control, takes off from an opposite ramp. The two pickups will meet head on halfway between, 25 feet above the ground...and then they will fall to earth.
Chuck Strange is in a great rush to get these things over with. He is no fool. He is well aware of what has already happened to him and what could happen to him. Until his disaster in the Dome, his goal was to retire from stunt driving before he turned 30.
"To think that I might have to be in this business when I'm 35 just gives me the shivers," he says. "I love it, but I can't wait to get out. I don't want to be a martyr. I don't like pain. If I didn't believe I could really be big, I'd stop in a minute. I'm not going to bust myself up for nothing."
And he tells the story of the death of Lucky Teter, the legendary stunt driver who stayed around too long.