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Evel Empire: Knievel's stranglehold on the Seventies | Hagerty Media

Evel Knievel had a stock answer for reporters when they asked him: Well ... why? "There's three mysteries to life," he said, with practiced conviction. "Where we came from, why we do what we do, and where we're going to go. You don't know the answer to any of those three, and neither do I."
Intermediate Driver

He was always up for a new challenge or stunt and I admired the tenacity of the man. He did garner the attention of so many of us at the time that stood up and took notice of his next attempt at something zany. While the stunts were sure hard on him, his entertainment was pretty harmless for the audience and it worked at the time. Would it have the same appeal to the masses today? Doubtful that it would now in a different time with the inter web and CGI in our face everywhere.

The machines and people who ride them have come so far. I wonder what Evel would think about the freestyle MXers we take for granted these days.

For better or worse Evil was better than any Hollywood script. The sad part is he did as much or more damage to his family over the years. This part gets left out of the Script. 

I was an Evil fan as a kid but learned just who he was as an adult. He will always leave legacy in many aspects. I just hope Things that he got working are never forgotten. 

New Driver

I grew up in Vegas.I was there at the bottom of the Ramp where Knievel came up short.
I watched him tumble like a crash test dummy.
He was swarmed by people and emergency crews.
Years later, my mother was his nurse in a drug/alcohol facility in Las Vegas. She never told me that till he was discharged keeping the patient's privacy her priority.

I think he was a far better promoter than jumper. I don't doubt he crashed "after" (not even while) evading police but I call BS on pulling a wheelie on a bulldozer.
Advanced Driver

Ah yes,the race at Ontario Motor speedway.Sis is a telephone operator and a guy wants to make a collect call.
Sis-And your name sir?
Caller-Effo Whitie
Sis-Thank you Mr Whitie.
Caller-Not Whitie! FOYT!! EFF... O... Y... TEE! FOYT!! A.J. FOYT!!!!
A favorite story in our family.
Pit Crew

He did not have "A Strangle Hold" on America.

I don't know how old you are but he sure did have a Strangle hold on the culture at the time. People couldn't get enough of him. I even had that Evel Knievel Doll on the Motorcycle you could crank up and make jumps with.
New Driver

A great read for someone who only remembers the twilight of his career. A point of clarification though, Kings Island is in SouthWEST Ohio, just northeast of Cincinnati.
New Driver

A truly nice Evel Knievel museum exists in Topeka, Kansas and is definitely worth a visit if you are a car or motorcycle enthusiast. It includes his personal semi truck and trailer and a fun virtual motorcycle ride as you jump 9 police cars. It is so real that some people fall off the motorcycle making a sharp turn. Nice museum with great pictures and video clips.
Pit Crew

As grade-schooler of the 70s I'd pore over TV Guide articles announcing an upcoming televised jump. There was always something depressing about the endeavor to me. He was a wild man but didn't seem to live for the thrill of the dare. It was a gambit to escape the cycle of poverty and incarceration that had defined his life... I just wanted the jump to be over with and for him to be OK, which often was not the case. He had the good sense and talent to promote the events so he wasn't risking his life without a paying audience. A larger than like persona like his is immortal; he will not be forgotten.
Pit Crew

The real Evel was not the same guy as his public personna. I learned that first-hand as an advertising exec who created a proposed campaign for a shock absorber client featuring Knievel as a paid spokesperson (at the height of his fame). Being "a man of his word," he agreed to the deal, then backed out at the last minute wanting more money -- long after the client approved the plan & the creative work was finished. I had been warned you couldn't trust him, and in fact you couldn't. The ad campaign never saw the light of day.
Pit Crew

There are two sides to every story, and Mr. Knievel isn't here to tell his side of it. The commitment may have been sealed not with a signed contract that could be enforces, but with a handshake or telephone conversation, and there may not have been pertinent details left out, so this account is within the realm of possibility. Who warned you about Evel? Who was the client and what was the ad agency? This transpired over 40 years ago; the Manhattan Project it ain't. If you are going to assassinate a character, give!
New Driver

Fantastic article. Evel was amazing. My mom knew him back in the day. She owned a liquor store back in Kansas. He came for a visit and autographed several Evel decanters for her. My brother and I still have them up on a shelf. Safe travels Evel.
Pit Crew

it was the seventies and Evil was going to attempt to jump many busses back to back in Union Grove Wisconsin at Broadway Bobs great lakes drag way, I asked my girl friend, now wife if she would like to go with me and watch , she said yes and off we went to the race track, for reasons unknown Evil waited till the sun went down to preach about how he straightened out his life, as he was talking it was cooling down from a hot humid afternoon, soon a dense fog slowly rolled over race track, I turned to my girlfriend and told her there's no way he's going to jump now because the ramp is wet, I was wrong, he got on the bike, made a couple of passes down the track and up the ramp stopping at the edge, the third time we knew he was serious, he had to be going a hundred miles an hour when he made a perfect jump and landing.
New Driver

Right place, right time and great stuff. As a kid you had no clue of the machine behind this: pro wrestling style marketing pushing carnival sideshow tricks to new levels. He seemed to retire after every jump (frickin gold), and we'd fret about it at school the next day. They must have made that crank toy for yrs-everybody had it in prob '76 or '77 and 10% went to Evel-this dude knew exactly what he was doing. Great read here. Hell I wish I was a little older so I could remember the earlier jumps!


I want one of those 1971 Dodge Colt hardtops! Four-speed, please.

Evel was indeed a groundbreaker for his time and see's a new challenge to improve himself and go beyond human potential growth. He was one of a kind and a true pioneer in what he did with no non scripted baloney from Hollywood. He just went with the flow and continue to ride on......

New Driver

I still have my original Even action figure, the white jump bike, black jump bike, chopper, and his travel camper and trailer. Even, big Jim, and GI Joe filled my days playing on the front sidewalk and play room. I was born in 67 so ripe for the pickings to get the toys. If I remember right, a friend even had the sky cycle. He was quite the self promoter. Good article.
New Driver

Lolol, Evel. Dang spell check
Pit Crew

When I saw the #1 on the cover of Hagerty Drivers Club in my mailbox I couldn't wait to read the article and look at the pictures.

As a child of the 70's, everything was Evel. My friends and I watched the movie EVERY time it was on TV, built ramps out of anything we could find and jumped our bicycles. Sure miss those days.

I still have my wind up Evel stunt car with the box. Thanks to Dad for saving it.

Evel Knievel wasn't perfect, but my childhood memories of those times are.

Too bad the Hagerty cover was torn in the mail.
Pit Crew

Growing up the 70's, my brothers and I idolized Evel. Watched all of the ABC Saturday shows featuring him. We even got his flipping motorcycle one Christmas.

Great guy. Those time in the 70's were great times growing up in West Texas

Cameron, great story about the "Last Gladiator." What a character. So, he chose his fateful moniker after one of his first stints in jail, when he was locked up next to a guy they called "Awful Knawful." He clearly lived up to it when he bashed his promoter with a baseball bat after the publication of a story he wrote which put Knievel in a bad light.

Requiescat in pace, Evel; you were one of a kind and I was lucky to have you entertain me during my youth.