Vaughn says that back in the late 1990s there were probably fewer than 100 people in the United States who were even aware that these stunts could be done on sports bikes, let alone actually experimenting with them at high speeds. Information was slower back then. There was no Facebook or YouTube. If a man pulled a gnarly wheelie for two miles and no one documented it, did that wheelie happen?

For Hunziker the solution was obvious. Get it on video. "We basically started filming to show people: 'Look, this is what we just did, seriously.'"

Using Vaughn's $200 Super 8 Sony camcorder, they shot enough footage for a ten-minute highlight reel of sorts. None of them knew anything about editing a video, so when they screened the teaser for those dubious friends, Vaughn found himself juggling remotes for four VCRs, playing here, pausing there, while simultaneously dubbing in some local tunes. Kubrick it was not, but the small audience in Vaughn's basement was blown away.

See a larger version of this week's cover.
Photography by Mark Gilliland.

Vaughn sent the teaser to Impact Video, a California-based national distributor of extreme-sports videos. For Docy Andrews, president of Impact Video, 1999 was a big year. Skateboarding reels were a cultural force unto themselves, and the power of video was carrying extreme sports from the underground to the mainstream at a breakneck — and profitable — pace. That year the X Games featured Tony Hawk nailing the first ever 900 degree rotation off a vert ramp, as well as Travis Pastrana's first freestyle Moto X competition. Andrews recalls, "We saw it on dirt bikes, ATVs, snowmobiles, pretty much anything with a motor."

The Streetfighterz's video wasn't the first she had seen of young men riding wheelies for miles or standing on gas tanks that had been pounded flat with a hammer to provide a foothold. She credits the StarBoyz out of Akron, Ohio, as the first stunting bike group to approach her, but the Streetfighterz footage was only the third or fourth of its kind that ever crossed her desk, and it was really good. If Vaughn would give her 45 minutes of additional material, she'd distribute the video.

And so between 1999 and 2000, the Streetfighterz hit Interstate 55 and other highways around St. Louis to shoot its first bona fide film. They titled the finished product Careless and Imprudent — the same term written on the tickets cops give out for pulling stunts on the highway. To avoid such tickets and the steep fines they brought, the Streetfighterz stopped riding with license plates and cranked the throttle when they saw lights flashing behind them. It made for great footage.

By 2000 the Streetfighterz's star was rising fast in the burgeoning world of stunting. (Riverfront Times profiled the group for a cover story in December of that year.) Shooting Careless and Imprudent required hundreds of hours of practice, seven days a week, four to five hours a day. But the members loved it, and they got better in the making.

"I wouldn't say we were inventing the sport," says Vaughn, "but we were driving the sport in a direction that we wanted it to go."

It was winter 2001 ("Cold as shit," recalls Hunziker), and the guys weren't sure if anyone would show up to the St. Louis bar they'd chosen for Careless and Imprudent's release party. To their surprise, when the Streetfighterz arrived, they found fans lined up two deep. The party started at 8 p.m. By 8:45 fire marshals were only letting one person in for every person out.

"They were in awe," says Vaughn of the crowd that night. "To be honest, we were just as excited as they were."

The film was soon on store shelves across the nation, and Vaughn and the Streetfighterz were fielding calls to perform at events, competitions and drag races across the country and in Europe. It was the perfect storm of massive popular demand for new extreme sports — after all, only a few groups could do what the Streetfighterz could.

That first video, though technically crude, set the style for the many more to come: Action shots of the wheelies and stunts backed up with heavy metal and hip-hop. Subsequent videos followed suit. The packaging for one box set promised in full capitals: "INSANE HIGH-SPEED STUNTS AND GUT WRENCHING WRECKS!" and "JACKASS MEETS HIGH-POWERED SPORTS BIKES."

After the success of its project in 2001, the Streetfighterz immediately got to work on making the next Careless and Imprudent. The group began taking on the form of a production house: Vaughn handled the business side of things, wrangling sponsors and motorcycle deals, as well as promotions and setting up shows. Hunziker threw himself into video editing and used his graphic-design degree to create T-shirt logos and the group's website.

By 2002 the Streetfighterz had released its second DVD. (The group would go on to make thirteen films sold at places such as Best Buy and Sam's Club.) And perhaps if things had simply continued in that direction, Streetfighterz would be like the other major stunting groups still operating today — performing at arenas and publicity events as opposed to the streets. But that didn't happen. And the reason may be that innocuous message Dennis Cardwell placed on an online forum one day back in 2002: the one suggesting that other stunt-bike enthusiasts get together for a "group ride."


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47 comments
jfeezy4031
jfeezy4031

I think it's hilarious. As a motorcyclist I have to worry about people reading while driving, texting while driving, doing makup while driving, cutting me off, pulling out in front of me, failing to yield to the right of way, coming into my lane without looking, etc etc etc. I think one day a year is not enough. 

Hunzikers-brain
Hunzikers-brain

I have been on highway 270 and highway 55 when these douchebags come by.  they pulled up next to my pick up truck and ripped one of the sideview mirrors off, cracked a window and beat several dents in my truck because I refused to get off their highway.  After that incident and especially after seeing the video of what happened when some other douchebags in New York decided they were going to take over a highway, on labor day weekend when I know these douchebags are out I take my pistol with me. 2000lbs of pick up truck and 3 magazines of .40 should be enough to give these idiots the message.

terrencekeenan1
terrencekeenan1

I like it. Gives a little rawness to St. Louis.  Police need to focus on what is statistically the most dangerous to us, day-in day-out, not just focus on this because it's so odd and fantastic. For example, what is more dangerous, the distracted diver of a 6,000 lb suburban driven 365 days a year, or a weekend of stunt motorcyclists? How many motorists did the cyclists kill that weekend? Dunkin donuts, McDonalds and your stress level kills and harms way more people. Let these guys do their thing, albeit as safely as possible.

ut_4_me
ut_4_me topcommenter

The picture with the story show how big a group of ass wipes some of the riders are.  

Bart Cohn
Bart Cohn

Although in all fairness, I once golfed with Sitdown Steve, and he was a perfect gentleman during the round, abided by all the protocols of group play.

Bart Cohn
Bart Cohn

I'm sure they are fine, upstanding citizens of the community, contributing to the betterment of us all with their good deeds. Right?

Laura Dee
Laura Dee

Jerks. Quit putting my life in danger with your stunts.

twowheels
twowheels


Fucking pussies all of them. So busy trying to look "cool" that these retards don't think about the fact that there's kids in car seats and families on the same roads they're pulling their bitch ass stunts on.

If you think you have skills go to a track and prove it. Otherwise fuck off, you silly weak ass wanna-be-cool-but-not-doing-it-right pieces of shit.

How cool will you feel when you kill a kid because you were trying to show off to an interstate full of people who aren't impressed to begin with?

I ride motorcycles too. The difference is I do my dumb shit where there AREN'T cars full of kids around and the only person in danger is MYSELF.

Fuck you.

Sincerely,
twowheels

kathy519
kathy519

I come from a family of daredevils but we NEVER put anyone else in danger.

Those STUNTRIDERS swarmed my car as I was driving to Barnes for cancer treatment a couple years ago.  My husband and I were also swarmed and surrounded as he was bringing me home from the hospital after chemo.  We were so sick/worried/scared for my prognosis and then we had to deal with crazed motorcyclists who made faces at us and zoomed by our car.


I try not to be vindictive, but I truly hope every one of those jerks has to go through the fear of hitting a lunatic motorcyclist as they drive a sick child to the emergency room, or something similar.

Spectrum1
Spectrum1

JACKASS MEETS HIGH-POWERED SPORTS BIKES." I think that about says it all.....

Spectrum1
Spectrum1

In May this past year I was on the Loop in Atlanta heading south towards Florida and I kept seeing these STUNTERS pulling wheelies going from lane to lane around me and four other semis, we were all loaded with 80,000 lbs of machine parts. The bikes were weaving and stunting and then suddenly the worst thing Ive ever seen occurred right next to me, the Biker hit a pothole and went down, when he went down he came right into my lane, the truck behind me drove OVER him and his bike and the truck behind him hit the body before he could see what had happened....PRETTY COOL HUH.

dvahey61
dvahey61

Bunch of inconsiderate aholes . If you want to do this kind of stuff find a track some where, the streets and highways are not there for your entertainment and riding a motorcycle does not afford you ant special privledges.

dvahey61
dvahey61

Bunch od inconsiderate ahole . ou want to do this kin of stuff find a track someehere the streets and highways are not there for your entertainment and ridding a motorcycle does not afford you ant special privledges

Thee Lovingcup
Thee Lovingcup

Buch of lame ass idiots. 2 died this year... what a waste of life.

billj598
billj598 topcommenter

So one of these streetfighterz azz-holes goes down in front of you while "performing" on an Interstate and you either can't stop in time or the 18 wheeler following you can't and you flatten the clown or get pushed into the immature idiot's carcass.....doing him great physical harm.  Are you legally liable for hitting the cretin ?  You have no proof, unless some kind person stops and I.D.'s themselves as a witness, that the moron was "stunting" in traffic.  Ever consider that Mr.& Ms. motorist ? It's gonna' happen, it's only a matter of time.  

Shelley Dotson
Shelley Dotson

If i skydive, it is only my life in jeopardy, I don't force others who don't want to be involved to jump out of a plane if they don't want to. If they want to do motorcycle stunts, thats fine with me - find a closed course and keep me out of it.

John Lupia
John Lupia

Heres the thing. Most people don't mind the speeding. Its the fact that all the other shit is such a pain in the ass. Doing tricks in traffic that make people take their eyes off of the road. Two years ago my wife and I were getting on 70 east coming from Ameristar. We get to the to of the ramp and 4 of these buttholes had the entrance blocked so the huge pack could pass. It is a corkscrew ramp and I almost owed into them. Then they wouldnt move for 5 minutes until the pack passed by. If they weren't a pain in the ass nobody would care at all. Like the other guy said if they would be cool and run some sort of charity everyone would be fine .

Laura Dee
Laura Dee

Yes. They should use the proper channels for their stunts instead of putting my life in danger!

Michael Mahler
Michael Mahler

wait till they have an oopsy in traffic and kill someone.... just a matter of time. Not a fan.

Twmoui Guess
Twmoui Guess

I was discussing the Ride of the Century the other day with a few friends who participated and I informed them that my opinion is that if the Riders got behind a not for profit organization the same way that Bikers for Babies does that they would probably get hassled a lot less by the cops. In other words if they get behind something that contributes back to society they would more than likely be able to have a lot less problems. I mean I heard there was close to 4000 people in attendance for the ride this year if every one of those riders were to contribute even ten bucks into a fund for a charity then thats 40,000 dollars going into a NFP that would help out immensely. I understand the thrillseeking and the stunting but I also know that as a rider its not just my life out on the road, if one of the stunters wound up falling at the head of the pack how many people would be injured behind them that are riding with the crew. Im a rider as well and not one of the weekend warriors. I will ride in all weather conditions except in ice. But I also know that its not the smartest thing to do either.

Steve Mincer
Steve Mincer

yaaa! we're totally badass when we aren't playing xbox in our parents' basement.

Becky Lane-Wegman
Becky Lane-Wegman

I think it is cool with a twist of "can you take that to the country,"

Ray Thomas
Ray Thomas

they don`t even deserve the media space they are given

Eznie
Eznie

I don't mind them on the highway as long as they're obeying traffic laws.  But when they're putting my children in danger with their antics that disrupt traffic, then we're going to have a problem. 

co-tea179
co-tea179

if yu don't like the fact that they ride down the highway keep your car off it then there is 100s of ways around stl so learn the

lucripet-2007
lucripet-2007

I miss spelled their. Should not have written there. So you anal retentive vocabulary checkers foad.

lucripet-2007
lucripet-2007

If I had the same mentality(sic) these swamp-rats have then I should have the right to, if they come near my car, "bounce them" into another dimension. Using my car as a bumper-car to there life's end. They have only one right. That is to pay the price for their ignorance..no matter the cost!

jfeezy4031
jfeezy4031

@Hunzikers-brain  You sir, are a moron. It is a police escorted ride. I'm sure you take the same attitude when a funeral percession comes through right? Fuck you I'm not pulling over for 30 seconds, pistol and a pickup yeehawwww. 

babyjane420
babyjane420

Same for your kid then If the little mother fucker comes out in the street on their bike by my car game over...Lol....dick head! That's for you iucripet-2007

weatherford1989
weatherford1989

Fuck this cock sucker!! R.O.C was awesome andbill be back evrryyear if it stays alive!! Keep stuntin!!

jaco1175
jaco1175 topcommenter

@weatherford1989 do any of you assclowns know how to actually spell real words? or should I say wurdz so you dumbfucks understandz?

red.kryptonite
red.kryptonite

@jaco1175 You talk trash and put z's on the end of words and then use the word "fucktarded". Nice. Typical holier-than-thou crap. Just like all the "don't put my kid in danger... only I can do that by going 20 mph over the speed limit, texting and eating a bagel! " 
This entire comment thread is full of hypocrites. I've driven in StL for 30 years and folks drive like shit. Most of the comments I've read here are in typical hypocrite fashion.
I'm not defending these retarded squids and their behavior but holy Mary, Mother of God ... the whole article and comments section is a frigging joke.

 
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