‘To see all th­ese bikes in one place is a dream come true’

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Feature -

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

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