Stuntman to provide fireworks at BCMSP

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 28, 2004

Visitors to the Butler County Motor Sports Park are used to seeing the occasional car crash. Once in a while racers touch bumpers causing some twisted metal.

On Saturday spectators will see a crash of a different sort. This time it will be on purpose.

Kenny Powers, legendary stuntman, will be on hand to perform a high impact collision into a car that’s been doused with high octane racing fuel and set ablaze.

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Powers will be performing the 1,667 stunt of his career when he completes his Saturday show.

While most stuntmen work with familiar equipment, Powers will not even know what kind of car he will be using.

&uot;I don’t even know what type of car I’ll use yet,&uot; said Powers. &uot;It won’t be a race car and it won’t have a roll cage though.&uot;

Powers began his career running moonshine before moving to the dirt track. He began doing stunts at dirt tracks. From there he gained a reputation and eventually made his way to Hollywood.

In his career Powers has performed stunts in such films as Bullitt, with Steve McQueen and the classic Smokey and the Bandit.

In &uot;Smokey and the Bandit&uot; Powers wrecked 25 Trans Am’s doing a total of 18 stunts.

Saturday’s stunt, which will follow the races, promises to get the crowd out of their seats.

&uot;What I’ll do is take three cars,&uot; said Phillips. &uot;The first one will be right down the straightaway and there will be two eight foot long and two foot approach boards. In the middle of one car we will dump 10 gallons of racing fuel. About 60 feet beyond the first car will be two other cars parked lengthwise. Once it is all set up I’ll get tightened into the belts and take two laps around the track to look for debris.&uot;

After looking the track over Powers said it would be showtime.

&uot;When I make the last lap you can just watch the headlights,&uot; said Powers. &uot;If the headlights are flashing that means I am going. It’s Katie bar the gate.&uot;

Powers said though it is an intentional crash there is still a lot of precision involved. He must achieve the proper speed to make the stunt work.

&uot;The ideal speed is 74 miles per hour,&uot; said Powers. &uot;The idea is for me to literally cut that first car into and the flames will set that car on fire before I leave that third.&uot;

Powers said the flames he will create and drive through will present an enormous danger.

&uot;The flames will be thirty feet high so it will be an inferno,&uot; said Powers. &uot;The whole nine yards will be for me to cut it half into and come out in an end over end roll. Then the big trick is for Kenny Powers to get out and say hello Alabama.&uot;

Powers, who has been doing stunts for 35 years, shows no signs of slowing down.

&uot;I’m going to do this show and I think I’m going to do one at the Astrodome,&uot; said Powers. &uot;I was going to do two more and I wanted to do one more down here. &uot;

Though Powers’s job is extremely dangerous he says he prefers it to competitive racing.

&uot;Race car drivers think I am the craziest person in the world,&uot; said Powers. &uot;But they don’t understand that I know when it is going to happen. I’d rather do that than have 32 people on my bumper for the checkered flag.&uot;

Powers said when he is ready for the trick he goes into deep concentration.

&uot;When I make that last turn and get ready you could be on the hood of the car and kick me and I wouldn’t notice,&uot; said Powers. &uot;I am ready to go.&uot;

Powers said he gets a lot of enjoyment in the fact that he gives people a look at something they may never have a chance to see again.

&uot;The only place most people would ever get a chance to see something like this is on a movie set,&uot; said Powers. &uot;Many times they are closed so in reality this is it.&uot;

Whether he is in Hollywood or a small town track Powers promises to entertain.

On Saturday he has no intentions of straying from that reputation.