Braun made the jump in tribute to the legendary American daredevil who inspired him to follow the same career path that led to stunt work in hundreds of Hollywood movies and TV shows.
The Evel Spirit rocket – almost identical in design to the X2 Skycycle machine used by Evel Knievel back in ’74 and designed by the son of the man who built the original – blasted Braun to an altitude of about 2,000 feet (610 meters) at a top speed of 400 mph, soaring over the canyon in the process. Three parachutes deployed to bring Braun and his machine safely back to terra firma 50 seconds after the dramatic high-powered launch.
Evel Knievel’s effort failed when his parachute deployed too early, forcing the rocket into the canyon. It came down by the edge of the water, the stuntman lucky to escape with only minor injuries.
For Braun, the outcome was clearly much better, although having paid for the stunt out of his own pocket, he admitted he was feeling a little bruised financially.
“I gotta go get a job tomorrow because I just blew $1.6 million on a rocket,” the stuntman told Good Morning America minutes after emerging from the Evel Spirit.
He added, “I would never do this again – it just sucked, it hurt, it was hot, it was uncomfortable.” That’s good then because the effort was also Braun’s last-ever jump, the 54-year-old Californian deciding to hang up his helmet and leather jumpsuits for a slightly less risky lifestyle after a career spanning more than 35 years.