Hall of Fame Inductee - 2011
Born Robert Craig Knievel in Butte Montana, the man most of us know as “Evel Knievel” was a daredevil and stunt rider. Knievel was raised by his grandparents, and early in life was inspired to perform jumps on his bicycle after seeing an auto daredevil show. He soon graduated from a pedal bike to motorcycles.
In 1966, Knievel went into the stunt riding business full-time. He managed to get Bob Blair of ZDS Motors, Inc. to sponsor the daredevil show. He was injured in the second show and the show broke up because he was unable to perform for some time after that. When he recovered, Knievel traveled from small town to small town performing longer and more dangerous jumps. He was injured again in June of that year, but that injury and subsequent hospital stay turned out to be a publicity windfall.
From then until he retired from jumping in 1980, Evel attempted 200 ramp-to-ramp jumps over cars, sharks and buses as well as the fountains at Caesars Palace. Perhaps his most famous jump was his failed jump over the Snake River Canyon. He hired an aeronautical engineer to design a rocket-powered motorcycle. The launch was held on September 8, 1974. The Skycycle never had a chance when the parachute malfunctioned and the prevailing winds caused it to drift down into the canyon. By the time it hit the bottom of the canyon, it landed only a few feet from the water on the same side of the canyon it had been launched from. If he had landed in the water, Knievel would have drowned strapped in the vehicle. Knievel survived the jump with only minor injuries.
Knievel died in November of 2007 after suffering from diabetes and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis for a number of years.