Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Evel Knievel

Robert Craig Knievel. He was born on October 17, 1938. Evel was raised by his grandparents in Butte, Montana. Evel did not have a career for a long time. He eventually did several different jobs.  Evel did professional hockey, joined the army, and even was a criminal doing small things like safecracking and robbing stores. He finally settled down and formed a stunt group called the Evel Knievel Motorcycle Devils. Evel married his high school sweetheart Linda Joan Bork and together they had four children.  They divorced, and he married his partner Krystal Kennedy. His son, Robbie, ended up doing motorcycle stunts like him.
Evel Knievel was famous for his motorcycle stunts. During his long career he broke 37 bones in his body while jumping over all his daredevil stunts.  Evel Knievel started his career in 1965 and ended his career in 1980. He mastered 75 jumps in his career. Most of his jumps were on a Harley-Davidson XR-750 motorcycle. Evel ended up with Hepatitis C which he got from a blood transfusion from an accident. He did get a liver transplant that saved his life. In 2005 Evel Knievel was diagnosed with a terminal lung disease. Evel died in November of 2007 at the age of 69.   
One of his most famous stunts was jumping over the fountains in front of the famous Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Evel made the jump but did not make the landing. He almost died from the jump. His injuries included a crushed pelvis, a broken leg, wrist, and a concussion that left him in a coma for a month. This jump made him famous overnight because it was a stupid stunt. Evel had planned to record this jump and later have Sports Illustrated air it on TV.
Evel Knievel had many successful jumps that made him famous. The Box of Rattlesnakes, Moss Lake, Washington was one of his first jumps that made him famous. Knievel promoted an rented the area where he was going to preform. He sold his own tickets and was the speaker for his pre-jump. He jumped over 20 foot long box of rattlesnakes. He ended up landing short because his back wheel hit the box. Knievel did not get hurt and also jumping over two mountain lions that day. This was the first step of Evel Knievel becoming famous.
Evel Knievel needed a sponsor to pay for advertising for his shows. Bob Blair from Norton Motorcycles was his first sponsor. ABC Sports refused to sponsor him for the Snake River Canyon jump. Bob Arum’s company, Top Rank tried to air the event on television and to movie theaters. They lost a lot of money because it did not work out. Knievel hired an aeronautical engineer to build a rocket powered cycle to jump the Snake River. The steam powered engine cycle with a parachute helped him land the north rim jump. The parachute released early along with the northwest winds and caused the cycle to slow down. He only had minor injuries with this jump.
He jumped two pick-ups in Indio California. He rode a Norton Atlas motorcycle jumping 45 feet. The sponsorship helped knievel get more people to the jump to support him and make his name stand out.
He went to Wembley Stadium in London for his next big jump. Ninety-thousand people came to watch him jump over ten buses. Knievel did not clear the final bus, and crashed a Harley Davidson Motorcycle. He broke his pelvis and one hand.
Five months later he went to Kings Island Theme Park in Ohio. He jumped Fourteen Greyhound buses which was a distance of 133 feet. This was his longest victorious jump. He had no injuries and it was supposed to be his last jump. Knievel jumping record with the Harley Davison record stood for twenty-four years. Bubba Blackwell broke knievel record in 1999.
Knievel started many rumors about him jumping the Grand Canyon. He never jumped it because of it was too dangerous. He told reporters that he was a performer because he loved to fly. Evel loved the thrill, money, and being a macho man. He also admitted that he was scared while doing the stunts.

Evel Knievel died on November 30, 2007. He was 69 years old. Robert Greg Knievel was buried at Mountain View Cemetery in Butte, Montana. Actor Matthew McConaughey gave the tribute.  They had fireworks while they carried the casket to the Butte Civic Center.

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