Alex Harvill, record setter
On May 12, motocross racer Alex Harvill, 19, set a new world record for motocross distance jump by soaring 425 feet. He landed the jump while filming at Steve Eilers' Toes MX Park in Royal City, Wash. News of the jump was kept secret until this week, when the first published photos of Harvill's jump will appear in the September/October issue of the Australian magazine Freerider MX. The footage shot by Jay Schweitzer of Powerband Films and Mike McEntire of Mack Dawg Productions will be featured in a distance jump documentary due out in 2013. ESPN.com caught up with Harvill last Thursday during a break in training for last Saturday's Washougal MX National for more on how it all went down and what he's planning next.
ESPN.com: First off, congratulations on your big jump and on managing to keep it under wraps for as long as you have.
Harvill: Thanks! I've just been waiting for all this to come out. It's been an awfully big secret to be sitting on.
I understand you come from an amateur racing background, and this all came out of nowhere for you. What prompted you to start going for it?
I started riding when I was 4. I've been racing on and off my whole life, more seriously in the last couple years, and now I'm working on getting my pro license. But this really did come out of nowhere.
I was just out there in Royal City, Wash., practicing at Toes, and my buddy Cody, Steve Eilers' nephew, was egging me on. I was hitting this big dirt kicker on the back of the big landing, jumping like 200 feet, and Cody was like, "Dude, just hit the ramp." It was sitting right there, so I was like, "All right." We checked out the ramp and the landing, and I went and hit it, jumping about 266 feet. Some of those first jumps are on YouTube, and it just went from there. We started moving the ramp back 20 feet at a time and going bigger and bigger.
What was it about the setup out there at Toes MX Park that made a 425-foot jump possible for you and made you feel confident that you could make it?
First off, it's just Steve himself and the guy he is, and he's helped me out even more in the two months since all this has happened. I'm racing at Washougal this weekend, and he just bought me some new gear and stuff since I'm still waiting on some sponsors. He's just a great guy, and he's put a ton of work and a ton of money into his setup, and it obviously works. Ryan Capes broke a couple records out there, and now we have an even better ramp. The crazy thing is that we've only gone as far as we needed to: We can go so much farther out there.
Had you been following the jumps that Capes and Bird and Maddo and others have been doing doing over the years?
Oh, yeah. I went out to Huckfest twice when Capes was doing his jumps, and I've loved watching Maddo's crazy jumps on New Year's Eve. Who wouldn't? Everybody's interested in dirt bike stuff and people doing crazy stuff on TV. What they've done -- from Evel Knievel to Robbie Knievel, to Capes, to Bird, to Maddison -- has made what I've done possible. They've each contributed to the sport and made it better. We all love to ride dirt bikes, and we all just want to push it farther and farther because it's fun, and it's what we love to do. I can't wait to see someone go even farther.
Was there a different kind of pressure once Jay Schweitzer and Mack Dawg were out there shooting, with the helicopter and everything, knowing that the footage would probably end up in the documentary alongside those other guys' jumps?
Only because I was a little bit starstruck that they were there filming for me! I grew up watching their movies, and those guys are the best. Everything they asked me to do I was super pumped to do it. The craziest thing, I'd have to say, was the helicopter. It would be flying up above me, and then the next thing I know I'm equal to or above it. Looking over at that helicopter midair was the sickest thing I've ever done and probably ever will do: On the first record jump, when I went 409 feet, Jay and I actually made eye contact, and I looked at him for a long time while I was flying through the air.
What's next, now that you've blown passed 400 feet, and way passed it at that, and have 500 feet in sight?
I want to get some new sponsors, and I'd like to go back out there to Toes to break the dirt-to-dirt world record first. I'm definitely not done with filming with Jay and Mack Dawg, and I'm definitely not done with that big ramp. I'm excited for everyone to see the "Daredevil Project" movie when it finally comes out, and hopefully we can go even bigger before it's done.