Australian stuntman Matt Coulter at the South of England Show
PUBLISHED: 10:14 17 June 2014
Australian daredevil Matt Coulter performs stunts on a quad bike, and he was at the South of England Show this month. Alice Cooke found out why farmers love him
Matt started riding motorbikes at the tender age of three, and was racing them by the time he was seven. “I raced two wheelers up until I got my first quad at the age of 15,” he says. “And then I started racing quads as well.” He found he was quite a natural: “I loved the quads and took to them very quickly, winning races from the start.”
So why quad bikes? “I had a three-wheeler on the family farm and when quad bikes came out I had a go on one and I was hooked straight away.”
Now near-permanently on tour with his stunt riding, he has been travelling almost non-stop since he won the Australian Quad Racing Championship at the age of 17 and decided to head off to the USA to seek fame and fortune (he has also won championships in Australia, USA, Canada, UK, France and Italy). “I toured the USA doing the racing circuit from July 1987 until September 1988. I then went to Europe to do the circuit there, and it was at that point that I spread the word that I wanted to set the world record for jumping a quad over cars.” Crazy though this may sound, Matt wasn’t short of backing: “A promoter in Holland took up the challenge fairly quickly and I did my first jump in Ahoy stadium in Rotterdam, where I jumped seven cars.” Not satisfied with this terrifying feat, he stretched the challenge to 10 cars in that same year and, in his own words, “my show career was born.” He developed his act and tailored it to fit in with the agricultural shows. “The farmers love seeing a crazy Aussie jumping over tractors at the shows.”
I ask what seems like the obvious question – has he ever fallen off? “Oh yes,” he replies quickly. “The two paddle steamer jumps I did down at a theme park in Cornwall in 1991 and 1992 nearly killed me, and to this day they are still playing on TV shows all over the world. The first was in 1991 and I hit the top of the boat and somersaulted into the water. I tried it again in 1992 and this time cleared the boat and the river, but crashed on landing breaking my left leg so badly that the doctors wanted to amputate it.” Has this slowed him down at all? “I have done my whole career with a dodgy leg and just got on with it really.” That’ll be a no then.
“I have never thought it was as more dangerous doing my stunts than it is living normal life and having to keep out of trouble just driving to the shops.
“There sure are some crazy people on the roads.”
Matt has set the world record for quad jumping and has also jumped a flying plane on two separate occasions. He also once set a world speed record on a quad bike, “with a deaf and blind man at the controls and me sitting behind him using touch signals. I used to be a regular on television, doing all sorts of crazy stunts”.
With all this under his belt, I ask what Matt thinks is his greatest achievement to date. His answer is surprisingly pragmatic: “Hmm…that would have to be still being alive.”