I've just found out that my hero, Evel Knievel has died. A sad, sad day. Evel was fantastic I can't really believe he's gone, after surviving crash after crash and a liver transplant I had started to believe that Evel was going to live forever.
It's getting quite late here but I'm going to come back to this post over the next few days and add some of my favorite Evel stories. For now all I can say is thanks for the memories Evel, and take care if you try to jump the gates of heaven!
update 1, Sat 1st Dec
I rode my motorbike to work today, a Yamaha xt660x, a bike that Evel would have approved of. I wore an Evel Knievel T shirt too. My route to and from work was chosen with Evel in mind. On the way I took a detour to go over my favourite hump back bridge..... On the way back I came through the city centre so that I had wheelie opportunities from traffic lights.
Anyway, as I said last night here are the some of the best Evel stories that come to mind, in no particular order, Enjoy!
1, Early in Evels daredevil days he performed a stunt where he would stand facing a motorcycle which would travel towards him at 50mph. Evel would then jump up in the air and the bike and rider would go underneath him. However, it didn't always work. On one occasion Evels timing was off and the bike hit him, as Evel lay on the ground he was covered with a blanket and was presumed dead. In fact he had "only" broken a few ribs. This was way back in 1966.
2, When Evel tried to jump 13 buses at Wembley he hit the last one and crashed. As normal, he broke various bones but he was up faster than a footballer with a slight graze to the knee, and then told the crowd he would never jump again. On the way to the hospital his agent asked him what happened. Evels answer was something like this, "Well my mother always told me to catch the last bus...".
3, That last quotes not bad but my favourite Evel quote has to be this one made as he is about to jump snake river canyon in a rocket powered bike. Evel knew he had no chance of making it to the other side, the three previous unmaned test flights had all failed and Evel had run out of money for further tests. However, as Evel had told his public that he would do the jump backing out was not an option. As Evel pressed the launch button he said, "God take care of me, 'cause here I come!" HERO.
4, I'm going to be doing this post for weeks, there is just so much to tell about Evel! Another good tale is one that landed Evel in prision. In short the story goes something like this. A guy called Sheldon Saltman wrote a book on Evel. Evel said the book contained lies about him and he wasn't happy about the content. To put this right Evel went round to see Saltman and broke both of his arms with a baseball bat. In latter interviews Evel Said things like, "It's hard to type lies when both of your arms are in casts" and also described Saltman as "the rottenest apple in the barrel and he deserved killing." Evel accepted blame and told the courts the truth about what had happened. When sentencing him the judge said he appreciated Evels honesty, but he could not encourage such behaviour. He was sentenced to six months inside. His jail sentence didn't please the toy companies, they said "All American Heros aren't suppossed to go to jail".
5, Evel was the best stuntman of all time and he knew it, he often said, "I don't care about these other so called jumpers. They don't compare to me. I'm the guy who invented car jumping."
6, When sitting in hospital after a failed jump, I forget which one, Evel confided in a friend and told him he knew he was not going to be able to make the jump. When asked why he went through with it Evels response was "What the hell was I supposed to do, give them their money back?" This guy was so tough!
The stories just go on and on. My advice to you is to go and buy the book Evel Incarnate by Steve Mandich. Good bye Evel, I'll miss you.