‘To see all these bikes in one place is a dream come true’
When did you start collecting Knievel memorabilia?
In January 2012 I was researching Evel and became very curious as to why there was no museum and quickly figured out, at least partially, why. Aside from the family’s collection, most of his memorabilia was scattered all over the world. He gifted helmets, leathers and other personal effects regularly. Also, quite an abundance of items were stolen then auctioned, etc. I quickly started negotiations with one individual and by late February, 2012, I acquired my first three sets of leathers, one being Evel’s, one Robbie’s and the third being Kelly’s only set [Robbie and Kelly are Knievel’s sons – ed].
What sort of value would you put on the memorabilia?
Priceless. How do you put a value on a major part of American history?
What’s your favourite piece?
Usually the hardest ones to acquire. I get asked this all the time and it’s still Evel’s first 1970 Iron Head XR750 jump bike – and not just because it’s the most beautiful motorcycle on the planet. Each piece of memorabilia comes with a story and a lot of passion, especially this one.
What bikes are in the museum?
We have Evel’s 1969 American Eagle jump bike, the 1970 Iron Head XR750 Harley-davidson, and three more of Evel’s Alloy Harley-davidson XR750S from the later jump years. To see all of these bikes in one place is amazing and a dream come true.
What was the biggest restoration?
By far it was Big Red – Knievel’s Mack Truck show-hauler. Mike Patterson’s team at Historic Harley-davidson took on the job.
Will you be adding to the collection
as items become available?
Always. New items surface relatively often. We have some really exciting things unseen for many, many years and will be rotating artefacts to keep things fresh. The collection has a variety of owners and as of late, we have had individuals loaning us amazing pieces.
What’s the holy grail in Knievel memorabilia?
Most agree that it’s the Caesar’s Palace helmet. We are proud to have it on display here for the first time in many years. I’ve traced the Caesar’s leathers to no end but they quite possibly could still be out there.
What are you hoping visitors will take away from this experience?
Hopefully the museum will inspire everyone, regardless of age. It’s all about history, education, inspiration and thrills – and the message that you can achieve anything you put your mind to.
‘The man wore a cape… a superhero. I wanted to be like him’
‘Aside from the family’s collection, memorabilia was scattered all over the world’ LATHAN MCKAY
The great showman’s trademark cane is a true relic Art of Evel… classic posters, merchandise and more
X2-1 Sky Cycle One of two unmanned test rockets that plummeted into the Snake River Canyon in 1974. Evel’s attempt also failed and the jump was only finally completed last year by stuntman Eddie Braun in an exact replica of Knievel’s rocket. The dirt surrounding the display is taken from the edge of the canyon
1970 XR750 – Knievel’s first Harley-davidson Doug Danger used this hybrid of Evel bikes to leap 22 cars
Caesar’s Palace Helmet This was the only piece of memorabilia Knievel kept on display in his condo in Florida ‘ because it damned well saved my life’. An attempt to leap over the fountains outside Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas in 1967 launched his career Fan mail Over 300 fans wrote to Knievel while he was in a Chicago hospital following his failed leap over a pool full of sharks. He never opened them. Only when they fell into the museum’s hands were they finally opened, some 40 years later 1974 Cadillac pickup truck Knievel loved four wheels as much as two and this Cadillac pickup was one of his favourites