James Claude "Bubba" Blackwell will try to beat Evel Knievel's world record by jumping 14 tractor-trailer rigs. Knievel set his record of jumping 13 semi-trucks on Aug. 20, 1974, in Toronto, Canada.
"It's not every day you get a chance to be in the spotlight on the Tonight Show," said U.S. Xpress spokesman Greg Thompson.
Blackwell is a 31-year-old Alabama resident who has already broken two of Knievel's records. Last year in Boston, he jumped 19 cars with his Harley Davidson. In July, Blackwell broke Knievel's record of 13 buses by clearing 14 in California.
The Tonight Show staff initially tried to get the 14 rigs locally, Blackwell told the Chattanooga Times/Chattanooga Free Press. But everyone wanted thousands of dollars to use their trucks. Blackwell's agent, Nashville-based C.K. Spurlock, took care of that problem. Spurlock's son Casey is a world-class drag racer who was friends with U.S. Xpress Co-chairman Max Fuller.
"Max Fuller was great. He's really pumped about the jump. He told us he'd drive all 14 rigs out there from Chattanooga if we needed him to, and all he's asked in return was two tickets to the show. Jay Leno was so impressed with the gesture, he wants to get a cell phone number and track the trucks from Chattanooga all during the week leading up to the jump," Blackwell told the newspaper.
It's likely the majority of the trucks, all Freightliners, will come from U.S. Xpress's terminal in Los Angeles, with one of the trucks departing Chattanooga for Leno to track on a nightly basis leading up to the stunt.