When the driver he had lined up to make the Auto Daredevil Thrill show’s final, show-stopping jump injured his ankle Friday evening, show promoter Bob Hanna hurriedly looked to his other stuntmen.
“(Bob) was like, ‘You want to do this?’ I had to ask my wife,” Sequim stuntman Dennis Sutton said, still catching his breath.
“She said, ‘The couch will be made up for you.’ But it’s all good now.”
All good, after Sutton took the wheel and launched his car up and over the pit shack at the Port Angeles Speedway last weekend, capping a sixth stunt-packed night out on by Hanna and his daredevil crew.
Led by Hanna, who goes by the stage name Dusty Russell (a name he’s used for about 60 years of stunt shows), four local stuntmen crashed through flaming walls, rolled and battered their vehicles on purpose, skidded across the race track’s straightaway and basically put themselves in danger all night.
This sixth presentation of the auto daredevils is likely Hanna’s last, a fact not lost on Sutton.
“It would be very hard for any of us (to put on),” he said. “We’re going to miss it.”
But even if this is the final performance here, stunt fans have another chance to say farewell to Hanna and his crew in September, when they bring the thrill show to the Clallam County Fairgrounds.
Sutton said he plans to be there for many of the same events he and cohorts John Camp, Tyler Moore and Matt Norberg completed Friday night to the delight of a packed speedway grandstands audience. Sutton, the 31-year-old Sequim native, blasted through walls of fire on his motorcycle, knocked over two cars standing on end in the Domino Crash and tried to defend his rollover title before his stunt car gave out.
Sutton thought his night was over when Moore, a Sequim native who’s performed previous thrill show finales, injured his left ankle on a stunt called the Slide for Life.
With Moore being looked after by paramedics, Sutton got his chance. After speeding down the straightaway and making a hard left toward the infield, Sutton’s car hit the ramp and easily cleared the pit shack, slamming down on a bed of demolished vehicles before rolling off to the right.
“It’s pretty sketchy in the back corner (at the turn),” Sutton said. “About the time I hit the top of the ramp I saw the back of my eyelids.
Uninjured, Sutton jumped atop the hood of his car, arms raised in pure ecstasy.
“It was actually smoother than it looks,” he said.
“That was not on my agenda,” Sutton said, grinning. “I’d do it again.”
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.