While Evel Knievel was once one of the most famous faces in America, old-school daredevils are now a dying breed– but the History Channel is determined to keep the adrenaline rush alive. Its new series “American Daredevils” showcases a select group of guys who go out every day and almost kill themselves for money and kicks.
Viewers see the risk takers lighting themselves on fire, crashing into stacks of school buses, jumping off ramps, soaring 300 feet in the air and propelling themselves from tall buildings.
So who would choose such to live such a dangerous lifestyle? Series star Brian Spangler, son of legendary daredevil Spanky Spangler, said his career decision was made early on.
“Growing up as a kid I remember [my dad] doing these dome shows with 70,000 people chanting his name. I knew then it was something I always knew and I wanted to do. I dreamed about doing big stunts,” the 32-year-old told FOX411. “I was born into it.”
Shot on location in 10 states, the new series offers a glimpse at what it takes to thrive and survive on the professional daredevil circuit. But just because the men featured on “American Daredevils” pride themselves on following the footsteps of the Knievel way of life, doesn’t mean things are done exactly as they were several decades ago.
“A lot of the stuff my dad started off with was car crashing, a lot of tearing cars apart. That’s old school, we’re getting into a new thing where we are into precision. We jump with cars and are driving them off, we’re doing spirals and driving off. Right now, I am building a trophy truck that is going to be able to go ramp-to-ramp that I will drive for a world record,” Spangler explained. “This generation wants to see landings. The old-school is the crash and hit, but we carry both. The new generation is doing back flips in cars, even our stunts with other cars we use degrees to calculate.”
In fact, meticulous planning is becoming more and more a part of the daredevil way of life.
“A lot of [people] think we are wildcats and we don’t know what we’re doing. There are a lot of guys out there that jack up ramps and just go out there, but those are the ones that get hurt,” Spangler said. “A real daredevil is smart, they know what they are doing and that it is risky. At least we make it safe so we’re not jackasses getting hurt.”
However, broken bones, snapped knee caps and serious bruising is part of the profession, and it’s not the only thing that gets severed in the process.
“[My career] cost me a 20-year marriage. I got a divorce,” noted series co-star and fellow daredevil, Mike “Mr. Dizzy.” “But now I have a beautiful girlfriend. I raised three kids and now I am starting over with her three kids.”
Spangler agreed the job does take its toll on his loved ones.
“[My wife] doesn’t like it at all. She likes it when we travel and see things and make it fun, but it’s rough on the family, the pressure and with kids in school and scheduling, always being on the road. It’s been a long summer and it has its ups and downs,” he said. “If she had it her way she would want me to stay home and make my construction business really take off… But I have this something in me that if I don’t chase this daredevil dream I will be an old man regretting my life.”
‘American Daredevils’ premieres Tuesday, October 22 on History
Danielle Jones-Wesley contributed to this report