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Evel Knievel Exhibit Opens Sat. at H-D Museum

Thursday, July 8, 2010
True Evel exhibit at the Harley-Davidson Museum
A great tribute to the life of the one-and-only Evel Knievel will open this weekend at the Harley-Davidson Museum.
It’d be cool to be in Milwaukee this weekend. The Harley-Davidson Museum is opening the doors to its Evel Knievel exhibit Saturday, July 10. The H-D Museum is world-class, so I’m sure its tribute to the greatest daredevil motorcycle rider of my generation will be top-notch. The exhibit will have his signature leathers and cane on display, as well as personal photographs and letters, collectors’ toys and Evel memorabilia, and the “X-2 Skycycle” he used to jump the Snake River Canyon. The collection comes from the Museum’s own archives and the Knievel family collection. 

Evel Knievel was a true pioneer. In his day, he did stunts that nobody else dared. His act filled stadiums. The fact that he made most of his jumps on a Harley-Davidson XR-750 makes his accomplishments even more amazing. His stunts were broadcast to millions on national television back when there were only three TV stations and one UHF channel if you were lucky. Four of his jumps are in ABC’s Wide World of Sports most-watched Top 20. Besides his skills riding a motorcycle, the cape-wearing, red, white, and blue showman was also a clever marketer.

The exhibit’s debut coincides with the 35th anniversary of Evel’s Wembley Stadium jump where he crashed in a jump over 13 buses. Knievel broke his back in the spill. Battered and bruised, he announced his retirement to 90,000 fans after the show, but it was more of an idle threat as he would perform again after that.

Evel was larger-than-life growing up. My friends and I would set up wooden ramps on bricks and see who could jump the furthest on our bicycles as we did our best Evel Knievel impersonations. I learned to ride a wheelie on my Schwinn 3-speed because I wanted to be like him. One of my favorite toys was the Evel Knievel Scramble Van and stunt motorcycle that I had. It had a plastic ramp that attached to the back of the van and I’d wind-up the handle of the gyro-powered launcher as fast as I could and then his stunt motorcycle would shoot out and launch over the van. Seldom did it land upright – just like many of the real Evel’s landings, but I didn’t care. It was good, simple fun.

“True Evel: The Amazing Story of Evel Knievel” is a 10,000 square-foot exhibit that will be on display at the Harley-Davidson Museum from July 10 to September 6. The video below gives you a little teaser on the exhibit. It includes an intro from Kelly Knievel, son of Evel Knievel, and Bill Davidson, Vice President of the Museum and great-grandson of Harley-Davidson co-founder, William A. Davidson.

Post Tags: Evel Knievel, Harley-Davidson, Harley-Davidson Museum, motorcycle daredevil
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Fred Nabkey -Thunder Press Magazine July 10, 2010 06:15 AM
Took the media tour on Thursday afternoon before the opening. Lots of interesting information. Take your time going thru and read everything.