They say Red Bull gives you wings. Freestyle Motocross superstar Ronnie Renner took that to heart as he launched himself to a ridiculous Guinness World Record during the Red Bull Experiment’s Massive Quarterpipe event on July 11, 2008.
The Red Bull Experiment is a series of events in which the world’s best athletes attempt “experimental,” record-shattering feats. This installment, which took place on the Santa Monica Pier, had Renner and his 230-pound KTM motocross dirt bike explode off of a ramp into the air, whip around to face the ground, then land on a custom-built galvanized steel quarterpipe that measured 64 feet wide and 25 feet high.
More than 6,000 anxious fans showed up to watch the extreme display, and Renner did not disappoint. The FMX vet—whose achievements include an ’07 X Games Step Up gold medal and a previous Step Up world record [35 feet]—accelerated his bike toward the launch ramp and exploded 59’2” into the air before coming down onto the massive quarterpipe.
Pushing such limits requires Renner to completely mentally focus and physically prepare. The slightest miscalculation could cost his life. Like any athletic competition, the outcome is decided well before the athlete takes the field—or pier in this case. Months of preparation and a proper pre-event mentality are essential to favorable outcomes. We had a chance to chat with Renner moments after his record-breaking jump to find out how an athlete could possibly get ready to risk his life and accomplish what had never been done before.
STACK: How do you mentally prepare for something as dangerous as what you just pulled off?
Renner: I never get too worked up or psyched out [about] things. It seems to be my proven formula. I just hang out and goof off with friends and family and try to keep an even head going into it. Once my helmet and my goggles go on, it’s time for business. I wouldn’t say that I’m not nervous, but I just go out and do it.
STACK: Describe your physical preparation.
Renner: I was doing some 5,000-pound squat thrusts (laughs). I don’t do much working out, I just ride my bike. I’m scrawny, 155 pounds, but I got more bounce to the ounce, and I save it for when it counts (laughs). I do some running, but I owe all of my credit to riding and seat time. I also owe feeling the bike to years of experience and [to] my dad for [getting] me on a bike when I was four years old.
STACK: Take us through the final record-breaking jump.
Renner: I was dealing with the light transfer from sunset to dark, and [for] the first few [jumps] I wasn’t committed to the ramp. I knew I needed to do one more. Normally when someone says one more, I’m like, “No way, that’s a recipe for disaster.” With this many people, it cancels out. I had to go for one more. I would have been stoked with anything 50-plus feet. Everything above that was a bonus. I can’t believe I went 59.
STACK: What was it like to make history in an environment like this on the Santa Monica Pier?
Renner: This is a totally different vibe than winning a contest. This is probably the hardest I’ve worked for anything to make it successful… The difference here is that [there are] 6,000 people watching you. Number one, you don’t want to mess up, and number two, you want to surpass what you did in practice… It’s not the typical spot for freestyle motocross, and it was something that nobody had ever seen before, so there was a lot of risk. I thought I was going to be pretty comfortable with the whole thing. I rode up on top of the pipe and looked down at all of the people and got intimidated pretty bad. I thank Red Bull for giving me the opportunity to take that risk. I think it was a great success.
STACK: What’s next for you and this type of quarterpipe setup?
Renner: The X Games [are] coming up, and I want to win the gold again in Step Up. Anything that involves going high and bringing my KTM dirt bike with me, I’m all about it.
I hope that I can bring the quarterpipe more to the masses and bring it [beyond] Santa Monica. With the help of Red Bull, we have some plans to experiment with some tricks. They have a lot of faith in the quarterpipe, and I do too. We’re going to experiment safely, because it’s no joke when you’ve got a 230-pound bike chasing you down.