BACK in the 80s and 90s Ray Baumann – a slightly crazy Kiwi living in WA – knew how to make classic Aussie muscle cars fly, the problem was, his landings sucked. I remember being at Ravenswood Raceway some time in the late-80s while Ray was testing his latest machine for a tilt at the world record for the longest car jump. It was a nicely presented XB Falcon coupe, light grey with white racing stripes and RAY’S HELL emblazoned across the side.
While the details are a getting a little fuzzy, Ray wasn’t jumping the car on the day but checking to see that he could reach the velocity needed to make the jump successful. I don’t remember being too impressed by the car’s performance, but wasn’t too surprised considering the amount of bracing and pipework that was added into the car for driver protection. Ray did jump the car, and as you can see in the video, it didn’t end very well. The big Falcon coupe was way too nose heavy and it crashed heavily with the front and rear ends getting ripped off the car.
Ray then had another attempt at the record 1993 using a Valiant Charger with a supercharged engine in it. For whatever reason, the Valiants seemed to fly through the air the best and the Charger looked majestic as it sailed over a few dozen wrecks that had been laid down to soften the landing. It was a massive jump but fell short of the intended distance. I actually bumped into Ray some years later and had a chat about the Charger jump. He reckons the reason he didn’t make it was because they used a dirt road on the infield of Barbagallo Raceway and there wasn’t enough traction, and therefore the necessary speed, to make the distance.
The Mythbusters video says he jumped 272 feet, but I found another source that said 237 feet (72.24m), which makes more sense since 272 feet is 82.9m, longer than Pastrana’s jump
In 1998 Ray finally achieved his dream using another Valiant, only this time – thankfully – it was a VH four-door sedan. On the 23rd of August 1998, Ray jumped the Valiant 72.24m, breaking the record and a few vertebrae in the process. Part of the requirements of the record were that he car had to land on all four wheels and then drive off. I don’t think he drove it very far after the jump, but the old girl still managed to roll a few feet after landing.
Currently the record is held by Travis Pastrana at 81.99m using a car that was nowhere near as cool and with more funding than Ray has probably seen in his entire life. Ray seems to have gone a bit quiet in the last few years, but as of 2008 he was still doing crazy shit, building a giant motorbike with 10-foot-high tyres that was capable of crushing cars.