Fontana Man To Try Leaving The Ground, Flipping, Burning & Escaping For A Living

Fontana resident Randy Scott, now known by his professional moniker Reckless Randy, has teamed up with Dr. Danger in the performance of cutting edge don’t-even-think-about-trying-this-at-home daredevilry.
Dr Danger, whose actual name is Gregory Carpenter, has now spent three decades as a stuntman performing all order of death-defying feats, coming through all of it barely any worse for the wear. Now Scott, 40, who is 17 years Dr Danger’s junior, is seeking to emulate him, learning from the master how to keep his body placed correctly and properly insulated to resist the destructive potential of speed, gravity, fire, explosions, contortions and sheer force.
In recent weeks and months, Scott has grown accustomed to scenes of mechanical mayhem, car jumps, conflagration and explosions.
Shortly after an exposition at the Irwindale Speedway last month, Scott told the Sentinel, “I’m getting acclimated to coexisting amidst the pyrotechnics. Seriously, the grounds at the speedway looked like a movie set, with a lot of burning wreckage and smoke. They blow a lot of stuff up around me. What Dr Danger has me doing are Evel Knievel-type stunts that usually pan out and a few that don’t. Dr Danger is a stunt expert who has been doing these radical things most of his life.”
Carpenter, who was born in Sacramento, describes himself as “a true stunt gypsy road dog” who spends most of his time on the road “living life in the trenches and getting as much out of each and every day as I can.” He says that “at the ripe age of ten, with nothing but a lighter, an abandoned car, a love of fire and some incurable inquisitiveness, I unknowingly set out to create the man that would become Dr Danger.”
Carpenter added,  “I’m not really sure why I became this guy. For some reason it was me, and I just became it. It’s something that mystifies me, even. I only do cars because I don’t have that good of balance. I’ve fallen off horses. I’ve fallen off motorcycles. When I was a kid, my dad told me, ‘Son, stay away from motorcycles. They’re dangerous.’ So, I started crashing cars instead.”
Along the way, he acknowledges, he’s doubled, tripled, quadrupled and quintupled “as a father, a songwriter, a mechanic, a bus driver, and a dishwasher.” It hasn’t hurt, he said, that he is “a believer and an eternal optimist.” Dr Danger has spent the last 30 years performing live daredevil stunts at racetracks, speedways, and monster truck shows across the country.
He became enthralled with Evel Knievel at the age of 11 after seeing the George Hamilton movie three times in one afternoon. He spent his early years of stunt work in Hollywood before realizing, he said, he could not be just another anonymous stuntman. He wanted an audience of his own that recognized his face and his name. The way to achieve that was on the open road, he figured. As Dr Danger, Carpenter has enthralled spectators in the six figures, performing live daredevil stunts at racetracks, speedways, and monster truck shows across the country.
“I am the best live show fire guy in the country,” Carpenter said. “I’ve probably stunted more people in live shows than anyone else in history.”
Carpenter’s signature stunts include a Dr Danger original, the “Suicide Car Explosion,” which entails two pounds of explosives and twenty gallons of gasoline being placed on a car. Dr Danger gets in, flips a switch and kaboom! Thereafter comes the challenge of getting out. After perfecting this stunt and performing it a few times, it became routine, so he added some flair to it by coming out of the car on fire.
The ‘Suicide Car Jump’ is another Dr Danger original. It is sometimes referred to as ‘The Steel Wall Crash.’ Early on in his career, he tempted fate by taking this stunt one step closer to suicide by using no roll bars. He has since chosen safety over sensationalism. In 1993 at the Portland Speedway, Dr Danger became the only person to ever jump a full size school bus off a ramp with a kicker, landing it 100 feet away upside down. He has jumped and crashed hundreds of cars, trucks, and buses in many unique ways, including head-on collisions, rollovers, T-bones, and chases.
Carpenter talked about mitigating the force of several tons of steel and the effects of gravity.
“At first, I used roll bars, but we were doing this every week and it was just easier to take my chances,” he said. “There was a period of about ten years when I used absolutely nothing but the stock seat belt because it was fast and easy. I had a special way of dealing with it. I would break the back of the seat so it was leaning way back. It was still connected, but it was kind of just hanging there. I would put on the seat belt, the factory belt, and if I flipped over and the roof came down, I was already leaning back far enough to where it wouldn’t smash me down. Well, it would smash me down flat, but it wouldn’t break me in half. That worked for me.”
Carpenter acknowledged, “There were some really close calls. I was trapped in one car for 45 minutes. I was trapped in another car for an hour-and-a-half.  When the roof folds in, it pushes you way down in the car. The doors are smashed shut. Those two times when they had to cut me out, I kind of remember bits of it. Even though I was alert and talking to the paramedics, I don’t really recall it. I would go to my happy place. One time I woke up under the light in the trauma room. I was lying there naked and the nurse was telling the doctor my temperature was 105.7, I had been trapped in the car so long. I don’t know what air I was breathing. There wasn’t much air.”
As everyone at some point must, Carpenter has compromised with reality. “Now that I’m putting others’ lives in jeopardy, we use safety pods,” he said. “It takes a little bit of work to put them in, but it’s like being in a funny car cage, like being in a dragster cage. That makes a big difference. It’s like a mini-roll cage that’s built right around the driver and you take out the driver’s seat and you put it in place and just bolt it down. The car can crush down around you and it keeps you pretty safe. It keeps the car off of you, away from you. If the car gets mangled, you cut the roof off to take the pod out. The jumps are getting bigger and more dangerous, and it just makes sense to do that now.”
Pyrotechnics are a large part of any Dr Danger event. From fire pots to fire tricks, including fire eating, he does it all. He holds the record for the longest run on fire, at over 300 feet, as well as the longest burn time.
And so how does Dr Danger deal with fire hazards?
“It’s a specialized routine that I’ve developed over the years that is a trade secret, in a way,” Carpenter said. “It’s not really high tech. It’s redneck high tech, how’s that?” Carpenter shared the method with the Sentinel, conditional upon an agreement of nondisclosure. Indeed, the technique involves a fairly simple, logical and clever augmentation of a standard means of insulation.
“It’s a gimmick, but it only lasts for a short while,” Carpenter said. “At first you don’t even feel the fire, and then all of a sudden it’s just hot. You’ve got a little window to work in there. The difference between twenty and thirty seconds is quite a bit. There’s different factors involved, but it goes from being you don’t even notice it to you are at the end of the envelope.”
Of his record for remaining on fire and emerging unscathed, Carpenter said, “Well, I ran 300 feet, the length of a football field, on fire.” Because of being bound up with protective gear, Carpenter was not exactly sprinting. “It probably took close to 40 seconds,” he said. “When you’re on fire, you have superhuman powers. If you are running into the wind, you can keep the fire behind you and you can be on fire for a minute before you start to panic too badly. With some extra-special set up, you could probably go a bit longer, but a minute’s doing pretty good.  You have to special prepare for that, though.”
Over the years, Carpenter’s talent for the spectacular caught the fleeting attention of such television shows as CBS Sunday Morning, MTV Nitro Circus, National Geographic, and Fuel TV. It was in an out-of-the-way town, Wichita Falls, Texas, where Carpenter had what might have otherwise been just another passing encounter with a videographer. Happenstance, or fate or whatever it was, in the form of mechanical failure, boosted Dr Danger into the national and international consciousness.
“As it would turn out, I met Kelly Lipscomb through a camera lens at a race track,” Carpenter said. “He used some footage of me he shot in Wichita Falls in a commercial for this local car dealership. My truck had broken down, so I wasn’t able to leave that town, and so three weeks later I was still there and I saw the commercial on TV. So, then I went on a quest to find him to make some more commercials, and we did.  It started with making car dealership commercials and quickly evolved into a documentary, what we were calling “Chasing Danger.”  During what turned out to be a nearly three year-long shooting of Chasing Danger, which Lipscomb originally conceived as a paean to the eclipse of the daredevil profession, virtually every one of Dr Danger’s professional moves was recorded on camera for posterity. Lipscomb found himself immersed in Carpenter’s world, which included other adrenaline rush junkies inhabiting the stunt profession. During Lipscomb’s discussion with the History Channel to see if it would be interested in airing Chasing Danger, the concept of a documentary soon gave way to a television series prospect, and then actually making and broadcasting, to a national and international audience,  the 16-episode television series “American Daredevils.”
Dr Danger and his crew, as well as the affiliated all-female Danger’s Angels, the stunts of which he coordinated, made their way onto America’s Got Talent. Both were included as performers in that show’s top ten-year highlights.
On five occasions, Carpenter took life flights and on five occasions he had five custom-made suits either burned off or cut off of him. “There were a good ten other times when I should have been dead but I barely squeaked by,” Carpenter said. “All of those five very very much life threatening.”
Asked if all of the money he makes is eaten up by insurance premiums, Carpenter laughed. “I don’t have to pay for insurance,” he said. “I can’t get it. There’s nobody who wants to insure somebody like me.  I have health insurance but I definitely don’t have a life insurance plan.”
The best insurance, Carpenter said, is skill and knowing what you are doing.
“You’re living on the edge,” the Sentinel said.
“You can say that, yes,” said Carpenter.
At the age of 57, he has begun to phase his way out of performing and is passing the torch along to several other younger and hungrier stuntmen and stuntwomen. Still, he isn’t fully out of the game yet. “I’m in the middle of my 30th anniversary tour right now,” he said. “I’ve done several jumps in the last couple of weeks. I’ll hand the big jumps off to the younger guys. I still have some big jumps in me. I’ll pick and choose those accordingly, depending on several different things. If it’s the beginning of the tour, I don’t want to go and get hurt right away. There’s going to be some of these jobs where they expect me to do it. I can still put the car on the ramp.”
“Will you still be jumping when you’re 70?” the Sentinel asked him.
“I’d like to be 70 and still teaching others,” he said “I’ve achieved the level of stunt coordinator. My record for people getting hurt around me is nearly zero. Out of the hundreds of times there have been less than a half dozen people who have gotten some type of minor injury.”
Randy Scott, or rather Randy Reckless as he is now coming to be known, is one of those members of Team Danger Carpenter has decided to pass the torch on to. In addition to Reckless, Team Danger  consists of several other daring performers, top-notch professional drivers, stuntmen and stuntwomen and experts in showmanship who showcase their skills. Those include Wayne “The Ox” Dunmire; Stephanie Wallenda-Davis, a cousin of Nick Wallenda, who recently tightrope-walked across the Grand Canyon; Samantha Weaver; Mike “Mini-Mad” Cook; Texas Trash; and Bobby Washington, the foremost Native American Daredevil working today, who goes by his stunt name “Bobby Sixkiller.”
Scott told the Sentinel that as a young man he met Dr. Danger about twenty years ago, and by chance was working in Ontario at an auto salvage yard more recently when he saw several wrecked vehicles that were marked in black marker with “Dr Danger.” He remarked to the yard owner that he knew Carpenter, and that led to his being reintroduced to him. It was after the reintroduction that Danger mentioned that he was looking for daring talent. Scott was game.
Scott recently performed the “Suicide Car Explosion” at Irwindale Speedway.
“Here is this opportunity to learn from the best in the business,” said Scott. “How am I going to pass that up? You have the challenge of doing some very intricate planning, preparation and then execution, and then the satisfaction of seeing it work. There’s excitement, attention and the chance of being seen on television. I’m down for that. And besides, doing these absolutely crazy things makes me feel like I’m young again.”
Scott called the Suicide Car Explosion “intense.” He is interested in learning another part of Dr. Danger’s repertoire, the “Suicide Car Jump,” as well. Asked if there was anything Carpenter did that he wasn’t ready to try, Scott said he was a little bit leery of what is perhaps Carpenter’s most spectacular feet, the “Triple Flip Cannonball.” Scott said he felt confident in working with fire and said, “I have no problem driving a car up a ramp and leaving the ground. I’m not really all that gung ho about doing three backward flips before trying to land, though.”
To which, Dr Danger said, “What could possibly go wrong?” He then responded to his own question, “The answer is, ‘Everything.’ Just be ready.”
-Mark Gutglueck

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