Better Than Evel Knievel – The Dale Buggins Story

Dale Charles Buggins (1961-1981) was an Australian stunt motorcyclist who had built a national and international reputation by the age of 20. At 17, Buggins broke a world record previously held by American stuntman Evel Knievel when he jumped 25 cars with a Yamaha dirt bike, in 1978. Dale would be gone a few years later, a shocking and tragic death by suicide.

One of Dale’s famous bikes at the National Motorcycle Museum in Australia

Buggins’s work pre-dated Freestyle Motocross and the Crusty Demons 10-plus years on, and in that sense in Australia at least, he was a motorbike stunt pioneer like his idol, Knievel.

On 28 May 1978 Buggins broke Knievel’s world record by jumping over 25 cars at the Newcastle Motordome and by 1979 he was touring the U.S. in the “Evel Knievel Spectacular”. In 1980 he visited Seattle in the United States to perform with American stunt motorcyclist Gary Wells.

Jumping everything from cars to buses, Buggins also created a unique motorcycle high wire act with his sister Chantel. He toured the “Dale Buggins Spectacular”, in the States and Australia, appearing at the Sydney Royal Easter Show and others around the country. A documentary made with Buggins,Mud Sweat and Gears, by Douglas Stanley and Nomad Films was never released in Australia and appears to be “lost”, though short clips of it can currently be found on YouTube.

Buggins’s record has since been broken by fellow Australian FMX stunt rider Robbie Maddison.

Part of the above-mentioned documentary about Dale is on youtube:

Buggins committed suicide on 18 September 1981 in the Marco Polo Hotel in Melbourne, by shooting himself in the chest with a rifle that he purchased the previous day. Buggins had just returned from touring the U.S. and was in Melbourne for the Royal Melbourne Show where he was scheduled to appear.

His father and younger sisters, Chantel who subsequently quit showbusiness, and Emma appeared in the Channel 9 special in 1997.

The National Motorcycle Museum in Nabiac in NSW, Australia, has a section of wall devoted to images and memorabilia of Dale Buggins’s career. Another museum, The Stuntman and Daredevil Hall of Fame, which will include Dale Buggins memorabilia is planned for Junee, in 2011-2012.

The only book to exist so far is a biography, Defying Gravity, The Dale Buggins Story (by Damian Kringas, Independence Jones 2009)

An excellent news piece from 1997. Australian TV: