Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Evel Knievel, Daredevil of Yore

A press release showed up in my inbox unexpectedly today that said: "Wednesday marks the 35th anniversary of Evel Knievel’s famous Wembley Stadium jump in London, and in honor of that anniversary, the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee announces 'True Evel: The Amazing Story of Evel Knievel,' an exciting, exclusive exhibit on Evel Knievel’s life and career running July 10 – September 6. Read below to learn more about the exhibit and about why the Harley-Davidson Museum is the perfect summer travel destination.

"High-resolution images of Evel as well as interview opportunities are available. We’ll look forward to being in touch about this incredible exhibit in the coming weeks!"

I guess they don't mean interviews with Evel Knievel, since he's been dead a while. Died of natural causes at 69, he did. I would have missed the Wembley Stadium anniversary all together without the release. Then again, it isn't even the anniversary of a great daredevil triumph of his, but the time he broke his pelvis in front of thousands of spectators. Come to think of it, that might count as a triumph -- way to cheat Death, Evel Knievel.

He had a knack for cheating Death. His try at the Snake River Canyon was the subject of much discussion among junior high school boys at the time. Its 35th anniversary has already passed, since the jump was on September 8, 1974. ESPN tells us: "Despite two failed unmanned practice attempts, Evel decided to go forward with the jump for the fans in attendance and ABC, which was televising the event live. In place of his signature Harley Davidson, Evel attempted this jump in a sky cycle -- a jet-powered sled that took off from an inclined metal runway constructed on the edge of the canyon by the Knievel team.

"Seconds after Evel Knievel's sky cycle cleared the edge of the canyon, his parachute ejected prematurely. As fans, family, crew and ABC watched Evel descend into the canyon, it appeared he was heading directly for the river. Landing in the river would have meant certain death. Luckily, Evel and the sky cycle were saved because they landed on the rocks on the far edge of the river."

Harley-Davidson Museum, eh? I just might have to go see that.

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