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LAPD cop chases Guinness record on Santa Monica Pier Ferris wheel

Big wheels keep on turning.

Gus Martinez, a veteran LAPD officer, is attempting to break the world record for the longest Ferris wheel ride. The Carson resident boarded the Ferris wheel at the Santa Monica Pier early Thursday morning and, if successful, he will step off Friday morning, 25 hours later.

"It's a very smooth ride. It's enjoyable so far," a cheerful Martinez said by phone four hours into his effort.

The record attempt is sponsored by a partnership between Pacific Park and the Special Olympics to help raise money for the athletic program for persons with disabilities. 

Officials said Martinez was a natural choice. His son, Jason, is a Special Olympics athlete with Down syndrome and Martinez coaches several of the organization's sport teams.

Prospective Ferris wheel record-breakers must follow strict guidelines established by Guinness World Records. Martinez cannot sleep and he's allowed only a five-minute bathroom break for every hour he's on the Ferris wheel. However, he can accumulate the time to take a longer break.

The current record of 24 hours, 30 minutes was set in Dublin, Ireland, in October.

But Martinez came prepared for the adventure.

"I've got snacks and energy drinks to keep me up," he said, adding that his long shifts as a detective with the Los Angeles Police Department have helped prepare him for the challenge.

Park officials have made several accommodations to give Martinez a more comfortable ride. They installed special seating with additional padding, and attached a solar panel so that he has electricity to power his flat-screen TV, iPad and cellphone. 

One thing the Guinness World Records folks do allow is visitors. So far, his wife and some coworkers have joined him for part of the ride, said Jeff Klocke, a spokesman for Pacific Park.

"Boredom is the biggest issue, not going 'round and 'round," he said.

Other riders are welcome to join and visit Martinez throughout the day. Parkgoers can ride the Ferris wheel from 8 p.m. to midnight for $5. Fares will be donated to Special Olympics Southern California.


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-- Angel Jennings

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