Tag Archives: Evel Knievel

The Evel Knievel Museum: 40 Years in the Making and Now Open!

EKMuseum LogoThe ultimate collection of the Legendary Daredevil’s Authentic Artifacts
Virtual Reality Jump, Snake River Room and Evel’s Fully-Restored “Big Red” Mack Truck Rig

Topeka, KS — Experience the singular showcase of genuine artifacts belonging to the most legendary, death-defying daredevil of all time. The new Evel Knievel Museum is a world-class facility containing the most complete Evel Knievel collection in the world including actual leathers, helmets, and hidden-cache canes, X-rays showing the metal pins that held Evel together, and rare, never-before-seen jump video and photos.

But that’s just the start. On display are Evel’s own jump bikes—motorcycles that sometimes launched him toward horrific crashes. These include bikes Knievel piloted at Wembley Stadium and Caesar’s Palace featuring their original sheetmetal, painted by Evel’s artist George Sedlak. See the X-2 Sky Cycle launched at Snake River, perched on Evel’s ramp and installed over dirt brought in from the original location. Peek inside “Big Red,” Evel’s traveling rig and dressing room, resplendent in red, white & blue metalflake vinyl in the original stars and stripes motif.

A centerpiece of the collection is the most iconic Bell helmet in the world: the 1966 Bell Star worn by Evel Knievel for the Caesar’s Palace jump—and subsequent crash. Hidden from view for decades, it’s still beautifully battered and likely saved his life that day.


Said Museum Co-Founder Mike Patterson, “Evel was such a riveting figure in the 70’s. He did things no one had ever done. I’ll never forget seeing him jump when I was just four-years-old and he still inspires today’s extreme sports athletes.”Bike_Leathers

The collection was amassed over four years by actor, producer and entrepreneur Lathan McKay. “It’s been an arduous but magical road,” said McKay. “This museum is the fulfillment of a dream for many people.” He termed the worldwide hunt for Knievel memorabilia, “Evel Archaeology.”


Visitors can view clips of Evel’s Hollywood stints in a 1970’s-era movie theatre complete with marquee and costumes. Giant touch screens target Knievel’s broken bones, connecting injuries to the jumps that caused them with video of the actual events. The “Plan A Jump” wall allows four players to choose bike, wardrobe and obstacles, plus speed, ramp angle, distance and other variables before launching, offering STEM educational opportunities. But crash or succeed, no visitors are damaged in the playing of this game!SkyCycle

Museum guests can even experience the rush of being a daredevil. Put on the virtual reality goggles and headset to pilot a jump bike perched on Evel’s actual ramp for an immersive jump experience, complete with rushing wind and rumbling impact.


Promising the thrill of a lifetime, the Evel Knievel Museum is unparalleled in scope and depth. It’s a fitting tribute to confidence, individualism and epic courage—characteristics that describe the bold life of Evel Knievel. Visit the Evel Knievel Museum. There’s no describing it, you simply have to experience it!

Features of the Evel Knievel Museum Include:
• The bikes that launched a legend: Evel’s actual motorcycles
• His genuine leathers and helmets
• Fully-restored Mack Truck Rig “Big Red” – cab, dressing room and trailer
• Snake River Experience Room featuring the actual X-2 Sky Cycle
• “Plan A Jump” interactive wall. Will you nail it or crash?
• “Bad To The Bones” touch screens including Evel’s actual X-rays
• Virtual Reality Jump Experience
• “Big Red” Gallery with restoration film, crew recollections
• 1970’s-era movie theatre with marquee, seating and décor
• Evel’s gold checkbook, safe and moneybag
• Film and crash videos of many famous jumps
• The kid’s room, the garage, the family room
• Children’s letters to Evel from decades ago, unopened until now
• Many never-before-seen personal items including Evel’s jewelry
• EK’s Cadillac, Indy Racecar and other rotating-loan vehicles

“Anybody can jump a motorcycle. The trouble begins when you try to land it.”
“I’m not a stunt man. I’m not a dare devil…I’m an explorer.”
“I created Evel Knievel, and then he sort of got away from me.”
—Evel KnievelTruckCabInside

The Evel Knievel Museum: 2047 SW Topeka Blvd., Topeka, KS 66612, 785-234-6174, http://evelknievelmuseum.com/ Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Media Contact: Marilyn Stemp, marilynstemp@gmail.com, 828-205-8482.


About the Evel Knievel Museum: A permanent tribute to an American icon, this new facility is the preeminent destination for would-be daredevils and dreamers of all ages. After three years of “Evel Archaeology,” collector Lathan McKay joined forces with Historic H-D owner Mike Patterson who added 16,000 sq. ft. to his dealership, to establish the museum.

About Historic Harley-Davidson: HH-D of Topeka is a third generation franchised Harley-Davidson dealership set in America’s heartland. Established in 1949 it’s one of 10 oldest family owned dealerships in America and prides itself on straightforward transactions and unparalleled customer service. Including Henry’s Grill, H.O.G. village, and now the new Evel Knievel Museum, it’s a don’t-miss stop on your next road trip.
Historic Harley-Davidson, 2047 SW Topeka Blvd., Topeka, KS 66612, 785-234-6174, http://evelknievelmuseum.com

About Evel Knievel: Robert “Evel” Knievel was an American pop-culture icon who made headlines from the mid ‘60s to the early ’80s for his daring motorcycle jumping and risk-taking attitude. A man of unabashed courage and brashness, he derived as much fame from the jumps he failed to make—and the injuries he sustained—as the many he completed. The ultimate daredevil, his fearlessness was imprinted on the imagination of the generation that witnessed his antics and inspired the next one who regard him as the godfather of extreme sports.

Evel Knievel Show Truck on Display for the Holidays

m-big-red-1Mack Trucks is celebrating the holidays by featuring Evel Knievel’s show truck “Big Red” at the Mack Trucks Historical Museum on three consecutive Saturdays in December.

The custom 1974 Mack FS786LST show truck is part of a temporary exhibit that will be open noon to 4 p.m. on three straight Saturdays: Dec. 5, Dec. 12 and Dec. 19. The exhibit will also be open during the museum’s regular exhibit hours on Monday Wednesday and Friday the week of Dec. 7.

“The Mack Trucks Historical Museum is where the history of Mack Trucks comes to life, and Evel’s show truck is no exception,” said John Walsh, Mack vice president of marketing. “Seeing Big Red not only brings back memories for those who watched Evel’s incredible stunts, but also helps create new memories for those who didn’t.”

Special activities are planned for the Saturday openings to include face painting, refreshments available for purchase and a vintage Evel Knievel video showing in the Bulldog Theater.

Big Red was custom-built for Knievel to haul his motorcycles, ramps and other equipment from event to event and was decorated inside and out with the daredevil’s colors and style.

The truck was rediscovered in a Florida salvage yard a few years ago in a state of disrepair. The truck was bought and restored as close as possible to its original condition by Lathan Mckay of Evel Knievel Enterprises and Historic Harley Davidson of Topeka, Kan.

The truck made its debut in July at the Evel Knievel museum, which is under construction at Historic Harley Davidson, and will feature several one-of-a-kind pieces of Knievel memorabilia.

The Mack Trucks Historical Museum is a not-for-profit corporation, separate from Mack Trucks, in Allentown, Penn. It hosts the premier collection of Mack trucks and Mack history.

SEE MORE: Related: Mack Show Truck Stars at Evel Knievel Documentary Premiere

Evel Knievel Days 2014


In the rush to Sturgis and the requisite recuperation afterwards, we forgot to post about Evel Knievel Days, an event held in Evel’s hometown of Butte, Montana the last weekend of July. Spike TV’s documentary on Evel called “I Am Evel Kievel” which premieres Wednesday, September 10, makes for an optimal time to re-cap Evel Knievel Days 2014.

Many of Evel’s friends and family still live in Butte so finding someone to tell you stories about the man is quite easy; everybody has one. Plenty of people recall having a beer with Evel in a local bar or taking a ride with him.

The town of Butte is dominated by a prominent ridge that’s dotted with a row of headframes – entrance structures leading to the copper mines that once formed the basis of Butte’s economy. In the early 1900’s Butte’s mines produced one third of the world’s copper, and this was at a time when industry in America depended hugely on copper. For a relatively small town, it sports remarkable architecture that includes the largest number of buildings of any U.S. National Historic District.

EK Days began in 2002 when Evel was still around. After being operated by a local group since Evel’s passing in 2007, the Knievel family stepped in this year to run the festival with the intention of bringing it back to its roots. That meant plenty of stunt riders, daredevils and extreme performers – the kind of action that resonates with fans of the greatest American daredevil ever.

Lathan McKay’s Evel Knievel collection was on display, of course. It’s the world’s largest compilation of Evel memorabilia in the world, bringing together Evel’s own jump bikes, his performance leathers and helmets, tons of gear and clothing, even his actual x-rays and casts. With Knievel’s first wife Linda present, along with his children and grandchildren, you almost expected the man himself to come around the corner!

So go ahead and peruse these pictures then mark your calendars for EK Days 2015. If you’re heading east toward Sturgis it’s the perfect stop on the way. Till then, keep track at www.evelknieveldays.org and Facebook.com/pages/Evel-Knievel-Enterprises/

Part Harley, part sportbike, all custom.

hat describes this Evel Knievel-themed, Shovelhead-powered motorcycle built by Tom Keefer at Franklin Church Choppers for the Bike Build-off at Gettysburg Bike Week. The rally ended July 13th but Tom is far from done with the bike: he’ll continue testing and tweaking it going forward, ultimately planning to take the bike to the Bonneville Salt Flats for a run on the great white dyno. That’s pushing the daredevil theme for sure!
Cycle Source Magazine will be running a full feature on the bike soon. Till then, here’s a look.

Evel Knievel’s Traveling Circus is Back!

2014 ROT Rally revives the daredevil spirit

Story and photos by Marilyn Stemp

I confess I’d never been to the Republic of Texas Rally before this year, not in the 19 years it’s been around. Further fessing up, what made me go this year wasn’t a realization that I’d been missing it or a curiosity to check it out. No, I went for Evel Knievel.
Held at the Travis County Expo Center in Austin, Texas, ROT Rally has drawn up to 35,000 ticket-buying attendees some years. People camp in everything from raggedy tents to swanky RVs and some of the campsites are so elaborate you’d think folks were moving in for the month instead of a long weekend. There’s a definite party vibe to ROT rally. Teetotalers need not attend.
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The 130-acre site includes indoor and outdoor vendor malls, the Thunderdome arena, bars, food, and an outdoor amphitheatre where live music was always on and Sammy Hagar headlined Saturday night. A favorite occupation during ROT is riding through the campground to witness the zany happenings – and you better be ready for anything.
A super fun aspect of the weekend is the evening parade from the expo center to downtown Austin. It was impressive to see tons of locals come out to make an evening of it by tailgating all along the 17-mile route. The ride ended on Congress Avenue where vendors such as Rick Fairless of Strokers Dallas hung out surrounded by live music and plenty of activity.

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So where was Evel Knievel? Of course, he’s not around anymore, but collector Lathan McKay has brought together a huge trove of Evel’s belongings to form an experience that’s pretty darn close. Knievel made headlines from the mid ‘60s to the early ’80s for his daring motorcycle jumping and risk-taking ways. A man of unabashed confidence and brashness, he derived as much fame from the jumps he failed to make—and the injuries he suffered—as the many he completed. Worthy still of the title Greatest Daredevil of the 20th Century, his feats resonate yet. Just about everyone I talked to had an Evel Knievel story, even Arlen Ness, who displayed at ROT with grandson Zach.
Lathan McKay spent most of the last two years researching items and traveling the country to find them, educating himself along the way in the nuances of Evel’s life and career. As a result McKay has become the premiere Evel Knievel expert today. He calls the hunt and discovery process, “Evel Archaeology.”
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The collection includes four of Evel’s XR750 Harley-Davidsons, a full scale replica of the Skycycle built for the Snake River Canyon jump, and dozens of both Evel’s and Robbie Knievel’s riding leathers. There are Evel’s original helmets, which were painted by artist George Sedlak, jackets, hidden-cache canes, posters, and so much more—even actual X-rays of his broken bones and casts he wore. Shown together for the first time ever in the Thunderdome during ROT rally the extensive collection of authentic items was enhanced by the presence of George Sedlak and Robbie Knievel who turned up to meet fans and sign autographs.
Further bolstering the Evel Knievel connection was a jump over 15 cars by veteran motorcycle jumper Doug Danger—to be attempted on Evel’s own XR750 Harley-Davidson, no less. Doug Danger (a.k.a. Doug Senecal) was still a teenager when he saw Evel jump over 13 Mack trucks on ABC’s Wide World of Sports in 1974. Before the jump Evel said a few words that got Doug’s attention. “He said, ‘If you want to be anything in life you have to give 110%. The only thing that can stop you is drugs.’ I thought: here’s the coolest guy in the world and he says to stay away from drugs,” explained Doug. Consider too that Doug had lost a friend to drugs around that time so Evel’s words really hit home. “Evel changed my life right then,” he said.IMG_0180 Doug started his own jumping career in 1979. Among many successful performances was his world record jump over 42 cars at Loudon in New Hampshire in 1991, a record that stood for nine years. Over time, Doug came to know Evel and they became friends. And Doug continued to be inspired to emulate him.

Doug talks about how tough Evel was but he’s quite a mountain of fortitude himself. He climbed back from a serious accident in 1992 that put him in a coma and wiped out his memory, and more recently battled cancer. The chance to jump on one of Knievel’s own bikes was a dream. “It’s such an honor to ride his bike,” said Doug. “Credit goes to Lathan McKay for reviving interest in Evel’s accomplishments. Thanks to Lathan, Evel can be a household name again.”


Doug arrived in Austin with his crew ahead of time. The ramps were built and he flew through jumps in practice. But a nasty storm the night before the jump, with winds intense enough to topple the take off ramp, sent a shiver through the crew and with time short Doug ultimately had to attempt the jump with no practice at all on a repaired ramp.
In new Vanson leathers crafted to resemble Evel’s Wembley Stadium set (but with a DD instead of an EK) and a new Bell helmet painted by Robby Hull, he mounted Evel’s XR750, a motorcycle that hadn’t been jumped since 1975 when Evel himself rode it, and buzzed past the crowd twice. Then, in an instant, Doug cleared the 15 cars, sailing more than 110-feet in the air. He was clearly exhilarated and rightly so.
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Greeting fans in the Thunderdome afterwards, I couldn’t help but notice as I took pictures: there was a portrait of Evel Knievel just over Doug’s right shoulder, almost as though he was watching over Doug. And that seemed entirely appropriate.

So when the weekend ended I decided that—compared to many who attended this year—my ROT Rally experience had been a-typical. But like the thousands who went for their own reasons, I got what I came for: I witnessed the revival of the Evel Knievel Traveling Circus. And I can tell you, it’s not something you want to miss.

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