From biplane walkers to the thick-headed stuntmen of Jackass, the daredevils of history have traded great risk and the likelihood of significant injury for attention, fame and fortune. In the 1970s, one such daredevil – arguably the most famous one of all time – rose to stardom and inspired people young and old around the world. This summer, the Harley-Davidson Museum will celebrate that daredevil through an exclusive, first-of-its-kind temporary exhibition – the largest the Museum has ever presented.
True Evel: The Amazing Story of Evel Knievel
will run July 10 – September 6 and will tell the story of Evel Knievel through fascinating artifacts drawn from both the Harley-Davidson Archives and the Knievel family collection. Visitors will see legendary pieces including his signature leathers and cane, personal photographs and letters, collectors’ toys and memorabilia, and the half-motorcycle, half-rocket “Skycycle” used to jump the Snake River Canyon.
Setting numerous death-defying records over his career, Knievel’s bike of choice was the Harley-Davidson XR-750 and he was sponsored by the Motor Company through most of the 1970s. From Knievel’s early start in Butte, Montana to his transformation into a larger-than-life master showman, marketer, and folk hero with international appeal, the 10,000-square-foot exhibit will engage visitors with the story of the man behind the seemingly fearless performer.
This year marks the 35th anniversary of Knievel’s famous Wembley Stadium jump in London May 26, 1975. During this pivotal stunt, Knievel crashed while trying to land a jump over 13 buses, broke his back, and announced to the 90,000 fans present that he would never jump again – though, of course, he did.
Kids growing up in the 70s did wild things to emulate Knievel and his stunts, and the heroic inspiration he provided to those aspiring daredevils still resonates today. In that spirit, the Harley-Davidson Museum invites visitors to celebrate the “little Evel in all of us” this summer.
The Museum will host “Untold Stories: An Evening with Kelly Knievel”
on Saturday, July 17. Evel’s oldest son will tell stories about life with Evel and share rare family photographs. Tickets are available on the Museum’s website www.h-dmuseum.com