By Konnie McCollum
(August 2006) Harley-Davidson of Cincinnati is getting into the spirit of adventure in August when it plays host to stunt motorcyclist Bubba Blackwells daredevil show.
The dealership, located at 1799 Tennessee Ave., Cincinnati, is planning an open house weekend filled with live music and amazing motorcycle stunt performances and a jump by a world record holding motorcycle rider.
Photo by Don Ward
Harley-Davidson of Cincinnati co-owners
Robert Nolan (left) and Greg Stith will
host the festivities on Aug. 18-19.
On Friday, Aug. 18, country music recording artist Billy Dean will perform, and Blackwell, who has broken every world record there is in motorcycle jumping, will perform his amazing stunts and sign autographs. On Saturday, Aug. 19, The Goshorn Brothers will perform live, and Blackwell will attempt to jump his motorcycle over 10 Ford F-150s in the parking lot at the Harley-Davidson superstore.
Robert Nolan, co-owner of the motorcycle store, said he expects 5,000 to 10,000 people to attend the two-day event. He said all of these free activities are a way for the dealership to show customers how much they are appreciated.
Blackwell, meanwhile, said he is excited about the event. I am looking forward to meeting fans and putting on a great performance, Blackwell said in a July telephone interview.
Born nearly 40 years ago in Bon Secour, Ala., the town noted in the film Forrest Gump, Blackwell became interested in motorcycles and stunt jumping at a young age after he saw legendary stunt performer Evel Knievel on television. He fell in love with motorcycle riding and said, To this day, I could get up and ride my motorcycle all day long, every single day.
He said originally he planned to make a living motorcycle racing, and he actually won numerous road racing championships. After two serious accidents during the late 1980s, however, he realized he needed to reevaluate his future options.
I have always been known as something of a showoff, and with his passion for riding motorcycles, he decided to combine those two character traits into a new career. He said he put a plan together during the early 1990s and never looked back.
While he knew that no one since Knievel had performed stunts on a Harley Davidson, Blackwell was convinced he could do the same things Knievel had done. The stunt star has broken every world record that Knievel ever set.
He admits that he learned his tricks and how to wow crowds through trial by fire. He said he learned early that the real job in his profession is to draw a crowd and increase ticket sales. He loves to interact and cut up with the crowd. He has a microphone in his helmet so he can talk and laugh with fans.
Blackwell said that at first he was incredibly nervous before each jump, but now some of those nerves have been replaced with poise and confidence in knowing he can succeed. He said he always says a prayer before he performs, and, in fact, he has a motorcycle minister among his crew.
Unfortunately, in one world record attempt at jumping 22 cars in July 2001, Blackwell suffered life-threatening injuries, including punctured lungs and numerous broken bones. He spent a month in the hospital and almost six months recovering. He said although he has no plans currently to retry the 22-car jump, he has not ruled it out eventually. At this point, he is concentrating on his stunt performances and smaller jumps. He did clarify, however, that any jump can be a dangerous one if safety precautions are not in place.
Although he tours and performs across the country from March through December every year, he has no plans to slow down or change things. He loves his career and believes he will continue for many more years. In fact, he was excited over the fact he has more booking for 2007 than ever before.
He said he works to stay limber, watches what he eats and tries to live a healthy lifestyle. He called his life a dream career, despite the fact that he has broken more than 42 bones in his body.
Blackwell travels much of the time with his wife of 15 years and their new 13-month-old daughter. His wife is a rodeo rider who competes in barrel racing, so theirs is a very active lifestyle. He said that while the protective part of him would say Absolutely not! to his daughter if she wanted to follow in his footsteps, he would back her 100 percent if she was as passionate about it as he is.
In his spare time, his favorite hobby is dirt bike riding. He also loves to go to car races, and he is an avid muscle car collector.
His real name is not Bubba Blackwell, and he did not want his real name published.
At the Harley-Davidson in Cincinnati, Blackwell will perform such stunts as wheelies, riding on his front wheel and burnouts, a stunt in which he writes his name on the ground.
He enthusiastically said, I will be my own emcee, and it will be a fun, interactive show.
For more information on the show, contact Harley-Davidson of Cincinnati at (513) 641-1188 or 1-800-766-8909. To get to the dealership, take I-75 north through Cincinnati, then take Exit 7 at Norwood. Turn right on Reading and left on Tennessee. Read more about Bubba Blackwell at: www.bubbablackwell.com.