Tuesday, June 9, 2015
The Daring Elgin Car Leap of 1920: The First Mad Max Fury Road Stunt
On a warm Summer day, a crowd gathered to watch an unprecedented event. Daredevil Chas. J. Wilson of Chicago, was about to launch an Elgin Six phaeton over a creek bed, just outside the town of Elgin, Illinois.
The planks and sides of the local bridge had been removed, leaving just steel girders, and a gap of 27 feet across, with a 14 foot drop to the riverbed below. A silent film crew was on hand to record either triumph or tragedy.
As the cameraman cranked his film, Mr. Wilson gave himself a running start, and sped towards the divide. The crowd gasped as his little convertible sped up to 55 miles an hour, hit the ramp and flew through the air "like a torpedo", until, with the bouncy spring of a jackrabbit, it landed 58 FEET from where he launched, without showing the worse for wear.
It's said Charles simply got back on the road, and made it back to Chicago without any repairs or missing parts. And maybe someday, in a newly-discovered old silent serial, we'll see that scene, the predecessor to Mad Max, a hundred years ago!