Jolene Van Vugt

Jolene Van Vugt

Jolene Van Vugt is in London this week to launch Nitro Circus: The Movie 3D with a hair raising stunt at the O2.

I caught up with Jolene to chat about the stunt, the excitement surrounding the movie and her career with Nitro Circus.

- You are in London to perform a world record breaking stunt at the O2 at the end of the month so can you tell me a little bit about the event and what is it going to involve?

We are really excited to launch the Nitro Circus: The Movie 3D for you guys. On February 28th we are going to be doing a world record attempt back flip at the O2.

There will be three freestyle jumps set up, two going in one direction one going the other, and they are going to attempt to get sixteen to twenty riders back flipping on their motorcycles in the air at the same time.

This will be a world first and it will be pretty rad to see some intense motorcycle back flips all at the same time. They will be so close together and so everyone has got to be focused and on their game.

But we are excited to get out there and set that record. That is going to be shown live in the cinemas that are opening that night and then afterwards the film will start. 

- Obviously this is an incredibly dangerous stunt that is going to involve twenty riders so how do you prepare for something like this?

It starts by selecting the first back flippers out there that plays into our Nitro Circus Live tour - we have some of the best freestyle riders on tour and we have riders who really know what they are doing; they know their bikes, the people that they are riding with and they are able to go out and do that back flip every time.

You are stacking them side by side and everyone is going all at once but each one of those riders really is doing out there doing what they are supposed to do. It is spectacular to see all those bikes upside down at once.

- How confident are you in pulling off this daring challenge?

I think the boys have got it. We have the best riders out there and I am pretty excited for them all. 

- For those who will be watching the stunt they are also going to be treated to a screening of Nitro Circus: The Movie 3D so what can we expect from the film?

We are very proud of the film as it is something that took many many years for us to accomplish. It has been a passion project for Nitro Circus as it was an independent project, we worked very hard to get this all up and away and get the camera rolling.

It is something that came from all of us wanting to do it over the years of the progression of Nitro Circus; it went from DVDs to a mini series to the series on MTV and finally the film.

A lot of the time, especially when we were doing the MTV show, we would come up with stunts that we wanted to do but we either didn’t have the budget to it or there was too much red tape for a television show.

So we got to keep them all in a little book and when we got this film we were able to do a lot of the stuff that we wanted to do and really deliver these big and impressive stunts. So it was a lot of fun for us to finally get to film the movie and we are all very proud to let the world see it now.

- The film sees you and the rest of the Nitro Circus Crew take part in a whole host of risky stunts and challenges so how do you go about deciding which stunts to do?

The group comes up with the stunts in many different ways; some stunts are devised by a single person, sometimes it is someone’s idea that snowballs over to someone else who develops that concept.

One of the rules that we have  in Nitro Circus that keeps the level of what we do to a Nitro Circus realistic standard is ’if you come up with the stunt be prepared to be the first person to perform it’.

It helps keep everyone in check and you know that no one is going to throw out some crazy stunt idea and then expect someone else to perform it.

So it definitely keeps us all on a level of really thinking of stuff that we personally strive. It is a pretty cool concept of how we come up with everything and it comes from everybody.

- On screen the stunts look fantastic but of course there is a danger element to what you do so how much do you think about that?

We are all very aware of the danger of what we do but that is just the type of personalities that we all are and that is why we do what we do.

It takes a certain type of person to want to do stunts and we are those people. We do think about things a little differently than the average person and weighing out risk, to us, is also viewed much differently.

So we are all very aware of the dangers of what we do and the risks that are involved and we with we move on and come up with these concepts that we think will be really cool when we get them done (laughs).

- How did you first get involved with the Nitro Circus because you started off in Motocross?

I did, yeah. I have been racing in Motocross for most of my life and that is how I met Travis back in the nineties. He was racing Motocross and I was racing Motocross and we met through a mutual friend.

In the noughties he and I were hanging out a bit more and had started this whole Nitro Circus thing and was looking for a female to back flip a motorcycle.

I was still racing women’s professional Motocross at the time and he was still for a girl to flip and I was like ‘oh I will give it a try’.

I was successful at it and became the first woman to back flip a motorcycle. He saw my commitment and my durability - those are two things that Travis really likes - he started inviting me to more and more Nitro Circus shoots and it snowballed from there. I became the first female in the boy’s club.

- What do you personally get out of being with Nitro Circus and doing all of these stunts?

Happiness (laughs). I get to spend time with my friends doing what I love - I have always been a big tom boy who loves motorcycles and going out and getting dirty whilst doing silly things. It just seemed to fit perfectly with me.

If you’d have asked me fifteen years ago if this is what I imagined I would be doing right now I don’t think I could have dreamt it.

But I would not choose to be anywhere else in life right now as I am so happy with the people I get to spend my time with and the things that I get to do. I am very fortunate and I am blessed every day.

- As I mentioned you started off in Motocross so how did you get involved in that sport? And what was your main attraction to that sport?

That one runs in the blood as my dad has raced Motocross my whole life, he is sixty seven and he still races now. He and I just got to spend last week riding together so that was nice.

I haven’t had much time to spend with my family in the last few years and so to take a week and spend some time riding with my dad was pretty awesome.

We were at the races every weekend supporting my dad and my brother and I was in the dirt playing with all the other young kids around.

One day I just said to my dad ‘can I do it? Can girls ride motorcycles?’ And he was like ’yeah, I didn’t know you wanted to.’ So he threw me on a motorcycle and it just started from there. 

- You have slightly touched on my next question really as I was wondering how influenced you were by your father?

Definitely very influenced by my dad, I look up to him very much. He is such a great person and so full of life and youth - he is sixty seven years old and I have never seen him act like an adult.

But that really inspires me because you can be an adult but you don’t ever have to grow up and you can have fun and enjoy life.

- As well as all that we have talked about we have also seen you on the big screen as you did all of Catwoman's driving stunts in The Dark Knight Rises so how did that come about?

That was a dream come true for me (laughs). I have been interested in stunts for quite a long time but it is something that I never knew how to get into - the Hollywood side of stunts. Then once I found Nitro Circus I thought ‘this is perfect as I get to do stunts just in a different way’.

When I got a call from Hollywood I was very taken and they hired me to drive the Batpod for Catwoman - I thought someone was playing a joke on me at first.

But I was very honoured to get such a consideration. They said ‘do you think you can drive this?’ And I said ‘if you give me the opportunity I can guarantee I will drive that motorcycle for you’.

They did and I was ecstatic to be able to help represent the best bad ass Catwoman that has ever existed (laughs).

- What was it like stepping onto the set of such a huge blockbuster project?

When I look back on it I see it a little bit differently because at the time I was I awe but I also felt that this is where I was meant to be.

Even though it was big and extravagant and I was in awe of it it felt right and it felt normal - I really knew that is where I should be and that was really neat.

- Motocross is seen as a sport that is dominated by men but what would you say to young girls who are keen to give it a go?

Dirt bikes are a very male dominated industry but if you love riding them and you are working really hard and giving it your all and are committed to it and having fun - if you stop having fun and you don’t like what you are doing then it is not the right place for you.

If you have a goal put your head down and get to it as no one can stop you if that is what you really want.

- Finally what is next for you?

We have a bunch of new tours coming up this year for Nitro Circus Live so that is really exciting. We are going to travel to a bunch of new countries and I have a few things up my sleeve that I have been training for for this year, so I am pretty excited.

Experience Nitro Circus in 3D plus record breaking stunt from London’s O2 arena 28 February. Book your tickets now on

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