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Entertainment :: Dr Danger: TV show daredevil hurt before Vinton show hopes to return to Iowa
· 12:07pm September 27th, 2013
The daredevil who was in the hospital while his team performed at the Benton County fair says he hopes to return to Iowa to show everyone he is OK.
Greg Carpenter, aka Dr Danger, suffered a broken back when he performed his most recent stunt – jumping an ambulance into a vertical semi trailer at the Jackson County Fair in Maquoketa.
“I want to come back so I can show all of those people I am fine,” said Carpenter.
Yet before you see Dr Danger return to Iowa, you may see him on TV.
The new History Channel series, “American Daredevils,” which premiers on Oct. 22, features Team Danger, Team Spangler and Team Dizzy.
Carpenter was performing stunts for the TV show when he was injured in Maquoketa.
Like many 10-year-olds in the 1960s and 1970s Carpenter set up a ramp to jump his bike, imitating the legendary Evel Knievel.
But unlike most 10-year-olds, he also started playing with fire at that age. He set an abandoned car on fire, then ran away, and returned to watch the firemen put it out.
Carpenter grew up and became a salvage yard owner. One day a man asked him if he could use some of Carpenter’s junk cars for a monster truck show.
The next words out of Carpenter’s mouth were: “Sure, if you will let me crash a few.”
That startling phrase led to his first daredevil stunt. And the success of that stunt led to a career.
Carpenter clearly remembers the theatric success of his first jump.
“I tried to jump seven cars,” Carpenter recalls. “I landed on the seventh car.”
He floored the accelerator, spinning his back wheels on the top of the seventh car. By the time he had reached the end ramp, the air was filled with smoke. When the smoke cleared, the audience saw Carpenter standing on his car.
They applauded. Dr Danger was hooked on his new career. In addition to jumps and deliberate crashes, the show uses a variety of fire displays.
In the 1990s, Carpenter began looking for a cool-sounding name to use when he performs.
He explains why he settled on Dr Danger (he has to teach people that there is no period after the “Dr.”
Like Clark Kent and Superman, says Carpenter, he is two completely different people.
“I am like a librarian – a nerd,” he says “Then at night, Dr Danger comes out. I think its just a cool names that the fans could relate to.
And, he says, he has earned what he calls a “Doctorate of Danger.”
“I didn’t go to college but after 23 years of doing this stuff. I am really good at it and have earned my degree,” he said.
Dr Danger and producer Kelly Lipscomb have spent the past five years filming stunts which will be included in the new show. He said he believes the show will help bring a renaissance of the daredevil era, and make it easier for daredevils to once again make a living performing dangerous stunts. While he hopes and expects to participate in a second season of the new History Channel series, he says how well viewers respond to the show will determine its future. Already, the History Channel has begun promoting the series with posters and commercials, and a line of “American Daredevils” clothing and other items are available to buy on the History Channel web site.
The helicopter ride from the hospital in Maquoketa to Iowa City was Carpenter’s fifth, but his injury is the first one that is leaving him with long-term health concerns.
His back injury caused part of his spine to push on the nerve that controls his left foot. Now he suffers from a condition he calls “drop foot,” where he does not always have the ability to move that foot. Fortunately for his daredevil career, it only affects his left foot and not the right foot he uses to accelerate his stunt vehicles. That, he said, would have had a devastating impact on his career.
“I have had two back surgeries and up until that crash in Maquoketa, I was bragging that I have crashed hundreds of cars and my back feels great, and I can even walk on the ankle that I once broke,” he says.
But now, the foot problem – although he believes he will eventually recover – has Dr Danger relying more on his team.
Team Danger includes Danger Jr., who, indeed is Carpenter’s son, Chris. Kevin Juarez, who joined the team this year, uses the show name “Jalepeno.” Carpenter says he believes Juarez will help draw more Latino people to the daredevils’s world. The fourth person of the team is Nikki McBurnett, who had already earned some fame in the world of Texas roller derby, as a competitor and later as an announcer. The Drew Barrymore movie “Whip It” is based on McBurnett – who uses the show name Mighty Aphrodite – and her team.
Juarez performed his first “Wall of Fire” stunt in Vinton, during the Benton County Fair. Danger Jr. also performed, running out of a burning car with his jumpsuit on fire.
Dr Danger said he hopes the TV show will help his team members to begin to get the recognition and the money they deserve for all of their hard work.
While many daredevils prefer to work alone, Dr Danger said he has always believed in a team concept.
“I enjoy allowing someone else to get that thrill,” he says. “I have trained a half-dozen people to do what I do. And age age 51, with a bum foot, I don’t know what’s next for me; I know it’s their turn. It’s what they earned; its time for them to get the credit they deserve. They are not going to miss a beat will be good for the show. I think America is going to like them.
Dr. Danger had told Danger Jr., before that stunt in Maquoketa, that if something went wrong, he would have to perform the next stunt in the show. And despite being concerned for his father, that’s what Danger, Jr. did, says his dad.
That was tough for him but it showed his dedication,” says the daredevil dad. “He is coming a long way. To see me in the condition I was in and still be able to go on to work was very impressive.”
The first of the 16 30-minute shows airs at 9 p.m. Central Time on Tuesday, Oct. 22. Carpenter said he wishes the show were an hour long so the audience could learn more about the lives of the daredevils, and the preparation that goes into each show.
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