What Are the Most Insanely Daring Stunts Since Evel Knievel?

What Are the Most Insanely Daring Stunts Since Evel Knievel?

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Ask almost any daredevil, stunt performer or extreme-sports athlete since the 1970s who provided their greatest inspiration and the name Evel Knievel inevitably leaps to mind. In his career as a motorcycle-jumping daredevil, Knievel dreamed big, performed fearlessly—and had the 433 broken bones to prove it. (Or so says the Guinness Book of World Records.) Below, a list of adrenaline-fueled boundary pushers who have followed in his death-defying footsteps, from a former Google engineer who made a world-record freefall from the edge of the stratosphere to a Brazilian surfer who rode (and survived) an 80-foot-tall monster wave. The risks may change, but the irresistible urge to take them lives on.


Evel Knievel: The Godfather of Daredevils

Formally known as Robert Craig Knievel Jr., Evel Knievel almost single-handedly revived the daredevil business in the 1960s and ‘70s with a genius for publicity, a knack for jumping motorcycles over cars and other objects and a seemingly limitless tolerance for broken bones. The American public got its first major glimpse of Knievel in 1967, when he drove his motorcycle off a ramp at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in attempt to leap the casino’s fountains. He stayed airborne for 140 feet but came down hard, breaking multiple bones. Many jumps (and hospital stays) later, he attempted his most daring and publicized jump, flying a rocket-powered cycle 1,600 feet across the Snake River Canyon in Twin Falls, Idaho, in 1974. Unfortunately, a parachute on the craft deployed prematurely, causing it to stop short and float down into the canyon, leaving Knievel with some minor scrapes. Evel Knievel retired in 1976 but not before his last major jump, clearing 14 Greyhound buses at an Ohio theme park without breaking a single bone.

Philippe Petit: Man on a Wire

The French-born high-wire artist, who later moved to the United States, first came to worldwide attention in 1971 when, at age 21, he strung a wire between two towers at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris and walked across, 223 feet off the ground. He topped that in 1974, when he performed the same feat, 1,350 feet in the air, in a 45-minute walk back and forth between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. Although he was quickly arrested and charged with disorderly conduct and criminal trespass, the city, perhaps bowing to a public charmed by the young daredevil’s audacity, agreed to drop the charges in return for an encore performance in Central Park. Since then he has walked wires around the world and been featured in both an Academy Award-winning documentary, Man on Wire, and a fictionalized account, The Walk. “I prepare by reducing the unknown to nothing, but also by knowing my limits, he told The New Yorker in 1999. “If I think I am a hero who is invincible, I will pay for it with my life.” Happily, as of this writing, he is still alive.

READ MORE: Evel Knievel's Last Jump: What Made Him Finally Quit?

Karl Wallenda: Flying Family Patriarch

Famed aerialist and member of the “Flying Wallenda Family,” Karl Wallenda wire-walked across the quarter-mile Tallulah Falls Gorge in Georgia in 1970 and across Veterans Stadium in Philadelphia in 1972 before a Phillies game. (Local papers reported that he consumed one beer before that stunt and eight martinis after; the wire swayed so much he sat down on it midway through the crossing.) The 73-year-old German-born Wallenda died in 1978 when a gust of wind knocked him off the wire he was crossing between two hotel towers in San Juan, Puerto Rico. In front of a traumatized crowd of onlookers, he fell headfirst and landed on a taxi. The Wallenda family were no strangers to tragedy. In 1962, the Wallendas seven-person tightrope pyramid collapsed 35 feet over the ground, killing two family members and injuring Karl. The show must—and did—go on. His great-grandson Nik Wallenda has since completed the wirewalk that took his Karl Wallenda’s life.

The Human Fly: Strapped to a Jet

The Human Fly, whose identity was kept secret, was only seen in public wearing a rhinestone-studded red-and-silver masked jumpsuit. His first set of stunts involved being strapped, standing up, to the top of a jet as it sped to 300 miles per hour. Another stunt, staged in Montreal’s Olympic Stadium, involved a motorcycle jump over 27 buses—topping Evel Knievel’s record jump over 13 school buses. But the Human Fly crashed upon landing and was never seen again. It was later revealed the Human Fly was a scheme launched by two brothers in Montreal looking for something more exciting than working in their family sausage-making factory—and there had always been more than one guy wearing the red suit.

READ MORE: 7 of History's Most Fearless Female Daredevils


Jackie Chan: Daredevil Actor

Hong Kong native Jackie Chan famously does all of his own stunts and has the broken bones (and skull) to show for it. In 1985’s Police Story, Chan slid down a four-story pole covered in lights and crashed through a large pane of glass, suffering second-degree burns and dislocating his pelvis. In 1986’s Armour of God, he attempted to jump from a wall to a tree branch, but missed the branch and landed on his head, cracking his skull and requiring emergency brain surgery. Perhaps his most famous stunt was being dragged around Hong Kong hanging from a helicopter by a rope ladder in 1992’s Super Cop.

Dar Robinson: Stuntman of Legend

Dar Robinson didn’t consider himself a daredevil. The legendary stuntman carefully calculated all of his record-breaking stunts to maximize safety. He made the Guinness Book of World Records for being the highest-paid stuntman—$100,000 to jump off the 1,100-foot CN Tower in Toronto before opening a parachute 300 feet from the ground for the 1979 movie High Point. In 1980, he jumped from the tower again attached to a steel cable that broke his fall 200 feet from the ground. He held world records and “firsts” for the highest fall into an airbag (311 feet) and skydiving from one plane into another. He died at 39 years old filming a standard motorcycle chase scene. He was thrown from the bike, fell 40 feet down a cliff and was gored by a sagebrush limb.

READ MORE: What Drove Evel to Keep Battering His Body?

Larry Walters: a.k.a ‘Lawn Chair Larry’

Frustrated that his poor eyesight kept him from a career as an Air Force pilot, a California truck driver hatched a plan to attach 42 large helium weather balloons to a lawn chair and see where it took him. On July 2, 1982, with the help of his girlfriend, Walters strapped himself into a regular metal lawn chair attached to 42 8-foot balloons and cut the restraining cords. Expecting to rise about 30 feet before controlling his descent with a pellet pistol, Walters shot up to 16,000 feet before finally leveling off. Luckily, in addition to the beer and sandwiches he brought with him, he also had a CB radio, which he used to make contact with authorities. He floated through the flight path to Los Angeles International Airport, where more than one pilot reported a man in a lawn chair with a gun cruising at 16,000 feet. He shot a few of the balloons and eventually landed safely dangling from a power line.

Ken Carter: Rocket-Car Man

Canadian stuntman and daredevil Ken Carter made a name for himself in the 1970s and early ’80s jumping cars long distances with the aid of homemade rocket engines. He had been jumping rocket cars for 27 years before a horrific crash took his life in 1983. Attempting to break his own rocket-car record by jumping 200 feet from ramp to ramp over a man-made pond in Ontario, the rocket engine failed to shut off, propelling Carter 100 feet past the ramp. The car rolled in mid-air and fell 75 feet onto its roof. The safety roll cage was crushed flat.

READ MORE: Travis Pastrana Nails All Three of Evel Knievel's Historic Jumps


Alain Robert: The ‘French Spiderman’

Alain Robert was already known as one of the world’s most daring unassisted solo mountain climbers (no ropes, no special equipment, just his hands and feet) when he took on a whole new challenge: skyscrapers. In 1994, he climbed the iconic Empire State Building, wedging his fingers and toes in the crevasses between windows. Since then, he’s gone on to climb more than 70 skyscrapers—often in his signature Spiderman suit—including the world’s tallest buildings, the 1,483-ft (452m) Petronas Towers in Malaysia and the 2,717-ft (828m) Burj Khalifa in Dubai. It seems the upward urge was always with him: He scaled his first building at age 11, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, when he was locked out of the family’s 7th-floor apartment and climbed the side of the building to get in.

Doug Danger: Record-Breaking Motorcycle Jumper

A protégé of Evel Knievel, Doug “Danger” Senecal started jumping motorcycles in the late 1970s. (His first stunt may have been riding his motorcycle down his high school hallways on a dare.) After clearing 14 buses in 1985 and 25 cars in 1990, he entered the Guinness Book of World Records with the longest motorcycle jump at the time, 251 feet over 42 cars. A crash in 1992 left him in a coma with 17 broken bones. After re-learning how to walk and talk, he came back to jumping, and now tours as a motivational speaker to kids.

READ MORE: 7 Death-Defying Historic American Daredevils

Robbie Knievel: Legend in His Own Right

Robert E. Knievel, a.k.a. “Kaptain Robbie Knievel,” son of the legendary daredevil Evel Knievel, is himself a world-class daredevil with 350 jumps and 20 world records to his name. In 1999, Robbie fulfilled one of his father’s dreams, to jump a motorcycle across a span of the Grand Canyon. While the jump was technically a success, Robbie lost control of the bike on the landing and broke his leg.

Andy Green: Land-Speed Record

In 1997, British Air Force fighter pilot Andy Green piloted a different kind of high-speed vehicle into the record books. In the barren Black Rock Desert of Nevada, he became the first person to break the sound barrier on land, pushing his Thrust SSC jet-powered car past 763 mph or Mach 10. He and his team are hoping to break the 1,000 mph mark with their new Bloodhound SSC ride in 2019.


David Blaine: Insane Feats of Endurance

Starting in 1999, magician David Blaine veered sharply from nifty card tricks to insane feats of physical and psychological endurance starting with “Buried Alive” in 1999, when he spent seven days buried underground in a Plexiglas coffin surviving on a few tablespoons of water a day. In 2000, he was encased in solid ice for more than 63 hours and 42 minutes. After standing on a 100-foot high, 22-inch wide pillar for 35 hours without a harness in 2002, he fasted for 44 days suspended inside a Plexiglas tank 30 feet over the Thames River in London in 2003. And in 2008, he set a new world record on the Oprah Winfrey Show for holding his breath underwater for 17 minutes and 4 seconds.

Travis Pastrana: Two-Wheeling Heir to Evel

The first person to land a double flip on a motorcycle—and yes, the crowd went wild—Travis Pastrana went from being one of the winningest motocross racers in the sport’s history to one of the most decorated freestyle athletes in X Games history (17 medals in four different disciplines). He then took a page from Evel Knievel’s playbook, performing outrageous tricks ranging from a motorcycle backflip between building rooftops to skydiving without a parachute. (He avoided going splat by connecting with a buddy mid-air and latching into his harness—not as easy as it looks.) Pastrana has set his sights squarely on Knievel’s legacy, with plans to recreate three of the motorcycle icon’s gnarliest stunts (including leaps of the Caesars Palace fountains and 14 buses) in a single night on live TV.

Kirk Jones: First Unprotected Plunge from Niagara Falls

In 2003, Michigan native Kirk Jones became the first person to survive the 180-foot plunge over Niagara Falls with nothing but the clothes on his back. Eight seconds after disappearing over the falls, Jones emerged from the roiling mist below with some broken ribs and a bruised spine, but otherwise fine, even refusing a ride back from the Maid of the Mist. He was fined $2,300 and banned from Canada for life. Sadly, he died in 2017 trying to repeat the stunt with a large inflatable ball.

Natalia Molchanova: Greatest Freediver

Russian freediver Natalia Molchanova held 41 world records in the sport when she disappeared during a recreational dive off the coast of Spain in 2015. The sport can easily turn deadly, with divers fighting off not only oxygen deprivation, but toxic levels of lactic acid in their blood. But Molchanova, who took up the sport at age 40, had a nearly superhuman ability to dive deeper and deeper, surpassing 101 meters (331 feet) with only a fin. She frequently outperformed the best male competitors at world-championship events.


Nik Wallenda: Tightrope Record-Breaker

Nik Wallenda, a member of the seventh generation of the Wallenda family of daredevil aerialists, completed several record-breaking tightrope stunts in the early 2010s, including the first-ever tightrope crossing of the Niagara Falls (2012) and the longest blindfolded tightrope walk between two skyscrapers (2014). He also tightroped across the Grand Canyon and holds Guinness World Records for the highest and longest tightrope crossings on a bicycle.

Gary Connery: First Wingsuit Landing Without Parachute

Relatively unknown to the wingsuit daredevil world, British stuntman Gary Connery became the first person ever to leap from an aircraft and land on the ground without a parachute in 2012. The 42-year-old Connery wore a wingsuit and leapt from a helicopter hovering 2,400 feet over the English countryside. He reached a top speed of 75 mph before landing/crashing into a runway of 18,500 stacked cardboard boxes.

Alan Eustace: Highest Parachute Jump

Google senior executive Alan Eustace climbed to 135,908 feet—the edge of space—strapped to a high-altitude helium balloon before cutting himself loose and free-falling for 4.5 minutes before activating his parachute. Reaching a maximum velocity of 822 m.p.h., Eustace became the second man to break the sound barrier without an aircraft, the first being Felix Baumgartner in 2012. Eustace’s jump, which he planned in secret for three years, beat Baumgartner’s record by 8,000 feet.

Rodrigo Koxa: Biggest Wave Ever Surfed

Riding an 80-foot monster wave off the coast of Portugal, Brazilian surfer Rodrigo Koxa broke the Guinness World Record for the biggest wave ever surfed on November 8, 2017. On the same day, in the same spot, fellow surfer Andrew Cotton broke his back in a horrific wipeout. The record-breaking ride took place at Praia do Norte off the coast of Nazaré, Portugal, notorious for creating some of the world’s biggest waves. The World Surf League measures waves by comparing them to the size of the rider from trough to crest.

10 Modern Stunts That Make Evel Knievel’s Look Tame

Evel Knievel is the household name for death-defying stunts. When you think of motorcycle stunts, you likely picture him in his Elvis-inspired costumes, leaping over rows of cars and buses. To many, he is still the greatest stuntman of all time and arguably the most famous.

However, records are made to be broken, and stunt performers are always pushing the boundaries of what&rsquos considered possible. Believe it or not, over the last several years, some people have pulled stunts that make Knievel&rsquos look tame by comparison.

1. High Wire Walk Between the Twin Towers

At 110 floors above bustling lower Manhattan, French high wire artist Philippe Petit (pictured above) walked back and forth for nearly 45 minutes with nothing more than a balancing pole. The 1974 stunt extraordinaire is the subject of the fascinating documentary, "Man on Wire." The walk in the sky was so well-received by the public that all formal charges were dropped, and Petit was presented with a lifetime pass to the Twin Towers' Observation Deck by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

Trailblazing champion motocross athlete Vicki Golden will go after a fiery world record.

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Justin Stephens for HISTORY

It takes a special kind of crazy to willingly—and repeatedly—crash a motorcycle through burning boards. Flaming debris can settle in a rider’s lap. Impact at even moderate speeds can cause concussion. And with all that smoke, it can be as good as driving blind.

That is—if you survive the temps, which can reach up to 2,000 degrees.

Four-time X Games medalist Vicki Golden seems to possess that brand of crazy—a combination of vision, ambition and guts that makes her a 21st-century heir to the legacy of Evel Knievel, the legendary two-wheeling daredevil who jumped, and crashed, his way into pop-culture history in the 1960s and ’70s. On Sunday July 7, at HISTORY’s “Evel Live 2” live television event in San Bernardino, California, this rising-star stunt athlete will aim to make history of her own, by being the first woman to set a new world record for riding through flaming boards.

The stunt will be the featured event in a revamped format for “Evel Live 2,” after renowned freestyle motocross athlete Axell Hodges crashed during a practice run to beat the longest motorcycle jump in history—a distance of 378 feet and 9 inches—and severely injured both ankles. “I’m shocked I’m not in worse shape and feel extremely grateful to have been able to get up from this crash,” Hodges says. The revamped show will include exclusive crash footage.

“Daredevils throughout history have risked their lives, putting it all on the line during their death-defying stunts,” said Eli Lehrer, executive vice president and general manager for HISTORY. “It takes a certain type of hero to fall and get back up again.”

Golden’s stunt drives forward the Knievel legacy. Early in his career, when Evel crashed through fireboards, motorcycle stunt entertainment was in its infancy. In January 1966, at the debut show of “Knievel and his Daredevils” in Indio, California, a free-wheeling Evel wowed fans by performing wheelies, crashing through plywood firewalls and jumping over two (yes, just two) pick-up trucks.

These days, the stunts have become exponentially harder. And riders like Golden train with the rigor of elite athletes. To pull off this feat, she is working with action-sports group Nitro Circus and its team of veteran stunt athletes, engineers, technologists, trainers and more. Here are the particulars of what it’s going to take to break this world record:

When Golden attempts to power through 13 flaming walls, each consisting of five pine boards, she will be the first female to challenge the current record of 12, set in 2007 by Louis “Rocket” Re. The motorcycle that will power her through the flames: the Indian FTR1200 S, which boasts a 120 horsepower, 1203cc V-Twin engine.

Winner of three consecutive X Games gold medals, Golden stands as one of the top female riders on the planet. Nominated for the Best Female Action Sports Athlete ESPY award in 2014, she’s the only woman in history to nail an FMX (freestyle motocross) backflip—on one of the largest FMX ramps in the world.

The San Diego native isn’t the only female who’s revved her way into the record books. In 1974, as Evel Knievel was drawing attention to motorcycle stuntdom, Debbie Lawler earned a spot in the Guinness Book of World Records with a 101-feet leap over 16 Chevy pickups, a feat broadcast live on ABC’s “Wide World of Sports.” Evel reclaimed the record not long after, but the fearless Lawler came to be known as the “the flying angel.” Jolene Van Vugt, now a top Hollywood stunt cyclist, became the first woman to ever backflip a full-size dirt bike and also executed the longest motorcycle backflip by a female. Leslie Porterfield, meanwhile, holds several land-speed records, having smoked across the Bonneville Salt Flats at an average speed of 232 m.p.h.

Crashing through fiery boards will require huge amounts of control from Golden, as she focuses on keeping the bike moving straight ahead at high speed amid flying debris, some of which can get caught in her chest and lap. And for much of the time, she’ll be essentially riding blind—struggling to maintain sight lines through the intense smoke and fire.

And her skill as a rider wouldn’t matter if she didn’t have the right equipment to protect her from temperatures that can reach as high as 2,000 degrees. Stunts such as this carry the risk not only of burns, but of smoke inhalation and scorched nostrils and lungs. Golden, who will be sporting a Nomex fire-resistant suit and protective helmet and mask, will likely be employing special breathing techniques to avoid or minimize lung damage. No doubt most people in the audience will also be holding their breath.

Because, in record-smashing action sports, emerging unscathed is never a given—as Axell Hodges can recently attest. Golden’s high-tech gear will help, but ultimately, it will be focus, determination, skill—and inner fire—that will drive the result. The spirit of Evel will be in San Bernardino, urging her on.

Blacklisting Huawei Could Cost Trillions, so Let's Look Before We Leap

Last weekend in Osaka, the U.S. and Chinese presidents agreed to
resume bilateral talks to resolve the yearlong trade war. That
decision was conditioned upon Xi Jinping’s agreeing to
increase purchases of U.S. agricultural products and Donald
Trump’s agreeing to defer any new tariffs on Chinese
products. It also required Trump to relax the restrictions his
administration imposed in May on U.S. companies transacting with
Huawei Technologies.

The Huawei concession isn’t sitting well with the likes of
Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Chuck Schumer (D-NY). They and
other China hawks in Congress believe Huawei presents an
intolerable risk to national security and are vowing to find a
legislative solution that takes decisions about the Chinese
technology giant’s fate out of Trump’s hands.


At HISTORY’s ‘Evel Live 2,’ the motocross athlete rammed through 13 flaming boards.

Champion freestyle motocross athlete Vicki Golden shattered a 12-year-old record Sunday night, smashing her motorcycle through 13 wooden walls of fire—the most ever in history.

Her fiery, high-stakes motorcycle stunt was the featured event in an ambitious night of daredevilry called “Evel Live 2.” Produced by HISTORY in conjunction with action-sports group Nitro Circus, the event was designed to showcase contemporary heirs of Evel Knievel, the history-making stunt cyclist and pop-culture sensation of the 1960s and ’70s. During the original “Evel Live” program one year ago in Las Vegas, motocross and X-sports legend Travis Pastrana bested two iconic Evel Knievel records in a single night—and then nailed the Caesars Palace fountain jump, something Knievel had crashed spectacularly while trying to do.

This year’s program was originally slated to also include two massive stunts by 22-year-old freestyle motocross athlete Axell Hodges: first, jumping over 25 semi-trucks and then making the longest motorcycle jump in history, a distance longer than a football field. But Hodges crashed days earlier during a practice run, badly injuring both his ankles.

It was a stark reminder of the serious risks daredevils face daily, including the possibility of devastating injuries.

“With Axell getting hurt, it broke my heart,” Golden said just before her event. “All the pressure is on me. I don’t think I like it…but I’ll work on getting the job done.”

The three-time X Games gold medalist and 2014 nominee for the Best Female Action Sports Athlete ESPY award, one of the top female riders alive today, proved she was up to the task.

For this stunt, which took place on the tarmac of the San Bernardino International Airport in Southern California, Golden drove through 13 walls of fire, positioned along a 600-foot-long course, on her Indian FTR1200 S bike. Facing temperatures of up to 2,000 degrees—and unpredictable winds—Golden wore a custom suit featuring two layers of a fire-retardant material resistant to melting, dripping and burning.

Golden was challenging a record that had stood for more than a decade, set by Louis “Rocket” Re in 2007. Re well remembers the risks of the endeavor. “Fire will always find its way into the smallest …read more


Knievel was born on October 17, 1938, in Butte, Montana, the first of two children of Robert E. and Ann Marie Keough Knievel. [2] His surname is of German origin his paternal great-great-grandparents emigrated to the U.S. from Germany. [3] His mother was of Irish ancestry. Robert and Ann divorced in 1940, after the 1939 birth of their second child, Nicolas, known as Nic. Both parents decided to leave Butte.

Knievel and his brother were raised in Butte by their paternal grandparents, Ignatius and Emma Knievel. At the age of eight, Knievel attended a Joie Chitwood auto daredevil show, to which he gave credit for his later career choice as a motorcycle daredevil. Knievel was a cousin of the former Democratic U.S. Representative from Montana, Pat Williams (b. 1937). [4] : 38 [5]

Knievel left Butte High School after his sophomore year and got a job in the copper mines as a diamond drill operator with the Anaconda Mining Company, but he preferred motorbiking to what he called "unimportant stuff". [ citation needed ] He was promoted to surface duty, where he drove a large earth mover. Knievel was fired when he made the earth mover do a motorcycle-type wheelie and drove it into Butte's main power line, leaving the city without electricity for several hours. [6]

Always looking for new thrills and challenges, Knievel participated in local professional rodeos and ski jumping events, including winning the Northern Rocky Mountain Ski Association Class A Men's ski jumping championship in 1959. During the late 1950s, Knievel joined the United States Army. His athletic ability allowed him to join the track team, where he was a pole vaulter. After his army stint, Knievel returned to Butte, where he met and married his first wife, Linda Joan Bork. Shortly after getting married, Knievel started the Butte Bombers, a semi-pro hockey team. [4] : 21

To help promote his team and earn some money, he convinced the Czechoslovakian Olympic ice hockey team to play the Butte Bombers in a warm-up game to the 1960 Winter Olympics (to be held in California). Knievel was ejected from the game minutes into the third period and left the stadium. When the Czechoslovakian officials went to the box office to collect the expense money that the team was promised, workers discovered the game receipts had been stolen. The United States Olympic Committee ended up paying the Czechoslovakian team's expenses to avoid an international incident. [4] : 21–22 Knievel tried out with the Charlotte Clippers of the Eastern Hockey League in 1959, but decided that a traveling team was not for him. [7] [8] [9]

After the birth of his first son, Kelly, Knievel realized that he needed to come up with a new way to support his family financially. Using the hunting and fishing skills taught to him by his grandfather, Knievel started the Sur-Kill Guide Service. He guaranteed that if a hunter employed his service and paid his fee, he would get the big game animal desired or Knievel would refund his fee.

Knievel, who was learning about the culling of elk in Yellowstone, decided to hitchhike from Butte to Washington, D.C., in December 1961 to raise awareness and to have the elk relocated to areas where hunting was permitted. After his conspicuous trek (he hitchhiked with a 54-inch-wide (1.4 m) rack of elk antlers and a petition with 3,000 signatures), he presented his case to Representative Arnold Olsen, Senator Mike Mansfield, and Interior Secretary Stewart Udall. Culling was stopped in the late 1960s. [10]

After returning home to the west from Washington, D.C., he joined the motocross circuit and had moderate success, but he still could not make enough money to support his family. During 1962, Knievel broke his collarbone and shoulder in a motocross accident. The doctors said he could not race for at least six months. To help support his family, he switched careers and sold insurance for the Combined Insurance Company of America, working for W. Clement Stone. Stone suggested that Knievel read Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude, a book that Stone wrote with Napoleon Hill. [ citation needed ] Knievel credited much of his later success to Stone and his book. [ citation needed ]

Knievel was successful as an insurance salesman (even selling insurance policies to several institutionalized mental patients [ citation needed ] ) and wanted recognition for his efforts. When the company refused to promote him to vice-president after he had been a few months on the job, he quit. Wanting a new start away from Butte, Knievel moved his family to Moses Lake, Washington. There, he opened a Honda motorcycle dealership and promoted motocross racing. [11] During the early 1960s, he and other dealers had difficulty promoting and selling Japanese imports because of the steep competition of their auto industry, and the Moses Lake Honda dealership eventually closed. After the closure, Knievel went to work for Don Pomeroy at his motorcycle shop in Sunnyside, Washington. [12] Pomeroy's son, Jim Pomeroy, who went on to compete in the Motocross World Championship, taught Knievel how to do a "wheelie" and ride while standing on the seat of the bike. [13]

Stunt performance Edit

As a boy, Knievel had seen the Joie Chitwood show. He decided that he could do something similar using a motorcycle. Promoting the show himself, Knievel rented the venue, wrote the press releases, set up the show, sold the tickets and served as his own master of ceremonies. After enticing the small crowd with a few wheelies, he proceeded to jump a 20-foot-long box of rattlesnakes and two mountain lions. Despite landing short and his back wheel hitting the box containing the rattlesnakes, Knievel managed to land safely.

Knievel realized that to make a more substantial amount of money he would need to hire more performers, stunt coordinators and other personnel so that he could concentrate on the jumps. With little money, he went looking for a sponsor and found one in Bob Blair, owner of ZDS Motors, Inc., the West coast distributor for Berliner Motor Corporation, a distributor for Norton Motorcycles. Blair offered to provide the needed motorcycles, but he wanted the name changed from the Bobby Knievel and His Motorcycle Daredevils Thrill Show to Evil Knievel and His Motorcycle Daredevils. Knievel did not want his image to be that of a Hells Angels rider, so he convinced Blair to at least allow him to use the spelling Evel instead of Evil.

Knievel and his daredevils debuted on January 3, 1966, at the National Date Festival in Indio, California. The show was a huge success. Knievel received several offers to host the show after their first performance. [ clarification needed ] The second booking was in Hemet, California, but was canceled due to rain. The next performance was on February 10, in Barstow, California. During the performance, Knievel attempted a new stunt in which he would jump, spread-eagled, over a speeding motorcycle. Knievel jumped too late and the motorcycle hit him in the groin, tossing him 15 feet into the air. He was hospitalized as a result of his injuries. When released, he returned to Barstow to finish the performance he had started almost a month earlier.

Knievel's daredevil show broke up after the Barstow performance because injuries prevented him from performing. After recovering, Knievel started traveling from small town to small town as a solo act. To get ahead of other motorcycle stunt people who were jumping animals or pools of water, Knievel started jumping cars. He began adding more and more cars to his jumps when he would return to the same venue to get people to come out and see him again. Knievel had not had a serious injury since the Barstow performance, but on June 19 in Missoula, Montana, he attempted to jump 12 cars and a cargo van. The distance he had for takeoff did not allow him to get up enough speed. His back wheel hit the top of the van while his front wheel hit the top of the landing ramp. Knievel ended up with a severely broken arm and several broken ribs. The crash and subsequent stay in the hospital were a publicity windfall.

With each successful jump, the public wanted him to jump one more car. On March 25, 1967, Knievel cleared 15 cars at Ascot Park in Gardena, California. [14] Then he attempted the same jump on July 28, 1967, in Graham, Washington, where he had his next serious crash. Landing his cycle on the last vehicle, a panel truck, Knievel was thrown from his bike. This time he suffered a serious concussion. After a month, he recovered and returned to Graham on August 18 to finish the show but the result was the same, only this time the injuries were more serious. Again coming up short, Knievel crashed, breaking his left wrist, right knee and two ribs.

Knievel first received national exposure on March 18, 1968, when comedian and late-night talk show host Joey Bishop had him on as a guest of ABC's The Joey Bishop Show.

Caesars Palace Edit

While in Las Vegas to watch Dick Tiger successfully defend his WBA and WBC light heavyweight titles at the Convention Center on November 17, 1967, Knievel first saw the fountains at Caesars Palace and decided to jump them.

To get an audience with casino CEO Jay Sarno, Knievel created a fictitious corporation called Evel Knievel Enterprises and three fictitious lawyers to make phone calls to Sarno. Knievel also placed phone calls to Sarno claiming to be from American Broadcasting Company (ABC) and Sports Illustrated inquiring about the jump. Sarno finally agreed to meet Knievel and arranged for Knievel to jump the fountains on December 31, 1967. After the deal was set, Knievel tried to get ABC to air the event live on Wide World of Sports. ABC declined, but said that if Knievel had the jump filmed and it was as spectacular as he said it would be, they would consider using it later.

Knievel, at the age of 29, used his own money to have actor/director John Derek produce a film of the Caesars jump. To keep costs low, Derek employed his then-wife Linda Evans as one of the camera operators. It was Evans who filmed the famous landing. On the morning of the jump, Knievel stopped in the casino and placed his last $100 on the blackjack table (which he lost), stopped by the bar and had a shot of Wild Turkey, and then headed outside where he was joined by several members of the Caesars staff, as well as two showgirls. [ citation needed ]

After doing his normal pre-jump show and a few warm-up approaches, Knievel began his real approach. When he hit the takeoff ramp, he claimed he felt the motorcycle unexpectedly decelerate. The sudden loss of power on the takeoff caused Knievel to come up short and land on the safety ramp which was supported by a van. This caused the handlebars to be ripped out of his hands as he tumbled over them onto the pavement where he skidded into the Dunes parking lot.

As a result of the crash, Knievel suffered a crushed pelvis and femur, fractures to his hip, wrist, and both ankles, and a concussion that kept him in the hospital. Rumors circulated that he was in a coma for 29 days in the hospital, but this was refuted by his wife and others in the documentary film Being Evel. [15] [16] [17]

The Caesars Palace crash was Knievel's longest attempted motorcycle jump at 141 feet (43 m). After his crash and recovery, Knievel was more famous than ever. ABC-TV bought the rights to the film of the jump, paying far more than it originally would have had it televised the jump live. [ citation needed ]

Insurance Edit

In a 1971 interview with Dick Cavett, Knievel stated that he was uninsurable following the Caesars' crash. Knievel said he was turned down 37 times from Lloyd's of London, stating, "I have trouble getting life insurance, accident insurance, hospitalization and even insurance for my automobile. Lloyd's of London has rejected me 37 times so if you hear the rumor that they insure anybody, don't pay too much attention to it." [18] Four years later, a clause in Knievel's contract to jump 14 buses at Kings Island required a one-day $1 million liability insurance to the amusement park. Lloyd's of London offered the liability insurance for what was called a "laughable $17,500". [19] Knievel eventually paid $2,500 to a U.S.-based insurance company. [19]

Jumps and records Edit

To keep his name in the news, Knievel proposed his biggest stunt ever, a motorcycle jump across the Grand Canyon. Just five months after his near-fatal crash in Las Vegas, Knievel performed another jump. On May 25, 1968, in Scottsdale, Arizona, Knievel crashed while attempting to jump 15 Ford Mustangs. Knievel ended up breaking his right leg and foot as a result of the crash.

On August 3, 1968, Knievel returned to jumping, making more money than ever before. He was earning approximately $25,000 per performance, and he was making successful jumps almost weekly until October 13, in Carson City, Nevada. While trying to stick the landing, he lost control of the bike and crashed, breaking his hip again.

By 1971, Knievel realized that the U.S. government would never allow him to jump the Grand Canyon. To keep his fans interested, Knievel considered several other stunts that might match the publicity that would have been generated by jumping the canyon. Ideas included jumping across the Mississippi River, jumping from one skyscraper to another in New York City, and jumping over 13 cars inside the Houston Astrodome. While flying back to Butte from a performance tour, he looked out the window of his airplane and saw the Snake River Canyon. After finding a location just east of Twin Falls, Idaho, that was wide enough, deep enough, and on private property, he leased 300 acres (1.2 km 2 ) for $35,000 to stage his jump. He set the date for Labor Day (September 4), 1972.

On January 7–8, 1971, Knievel set the record by selling over 100,000 tickets to back-to-back performances at the Houston Astrodome. On February 28, he set a new world record by jumping 19 cars with his Harley-Davidson XR-750 at the Ontario Motor Speedway in Ontario, California. The 19-car jump was shot for the biopic Evel Knievel. Knievel held the record for 27 years until Bubba Blackwell jumped 20 cars in 1998 with an XR-750. [20] In 2015, Doug Danger surpassed that number with 22 cars, accomplishing this feat on Evel Knievel's actual vintage 1972 Harley-Davidson XR-750. [21]

On May 10, Knievel crashed while attempting to jump 13 Pepsi delivery trucks. His approach was complicated by the fact that he had to start on pavement, cut across grass, and then return to pavement. His lack of speed caused the motorcycle to come down front wheel first. He managed to hold on until the cycle hit the base of the ramp. After being thrown off, he skidded for 50 feet (15 m). He broke his collarbone, suffered a compound fracture of his right arm, and broke both legs.

On March 3, 1972, at the Cow Palace in Daly City, California, after making a successful jump, he tried to come to a quick stop because of a short landing area. He reportedly suffered a broken back and a concussion after getting thrown off and run over by his motorcycle, a Harley-Davidson. Knievel returned to jumping in November 1973, when he successfully jumped over 50 stacked cars at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. [22] For 35 years, Knievel held the record for jumping the most stacked cars on a Harley-Davidson XR-750 (the record was broken in October 2008). [23] His historic XR-750 is now part of the collection of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. Made of steel, aluminum and fiberglass, the customized motorcycle weighs about 140 kg (300 lb). [24]

During his career, Knievel may have suffered more than 433 bone fractures, [25] earning an entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the survivor of "most bones broken in a lifetime". [1] However, this number could be exaggerated: his son Robbie told a reporter in June 2014 that his father had broken 40 to 50 bones Knievel himself claimed he broke 35.

The Grand Canyon jump Edit

Although Knievel never attempted to jump the Grand Canyon, rumors of the Canyon jump were started by Knievel himself in 1968, following the Caesars Palace crash. During a 1968 interview, Knievel stated, "I don't care if they say, 'Look, kid, you're going to drive that thing off the edge of the Canyon and die,' I'm going to do it. I want to be the first. If they'd let me go to the moon, I'd crawl all the way to Cape Kennedy just to do it. I'd like to go to the moon, but I don't want to be the second man to go there." For the next several years, Knievel negotiated with the federal government to secure a jumping site and develop various concept bikes to make the jump, but the Interior Department denied him airspace over the northern Arizona canyon. Knievel switched his attention in 1971 to the Snake River Canyon in southern Idaho.

In the 1971 film Evel Knievel, George Hamilton (as Knievel) alludes to the canyon jump in the final scene of the movie. One of the common movie posters for the film depicts Knievel jumping his motorcycle off a (likely) Grand Canyon cliff. In 1999, his son Robbie jumped a portion of the Grand Canyon owned by the Hualapai Indian Reservation. [26]

Travis Pastrana To Attempt Three Iconic Evel Knievel Stunts In One Evening!



New York, NY – March 15, 2018 – HISTORY announces “Evel Live , an unprecedented three-hour live event created in partnership with Nitro Circus Media Productions premiering Sunday, July 8 at 8PM ET as part of the network’s second annual car week. During “Evel Live” American professional motorsports icon Travis Pastrana will honor legendary daredevil Evel Knievel by attempting three of his most dangerous feats in Las Vegas, Nevada, all while riding a modern day recreation inspired by the motorcycle Knievel used. These include: breaking Knievel’s record jump over 50 cars, another record-breaking jump over 14 full size buses, and aiming to make history as the first person to successfully jump the Caesar’s Palace fountain on a bike similar to the one Knievel used 50 years ago – an attempt that ended with a crash that left him grasping for life. If Pastrana rides away from all three, he will be the only person to successfully beat two of Knievel’s distance records and land a jump over the fountain on a v-twin motorcycle. All of this will happen in the span of just three hours, and HISTORY will capture every exhilarating, nerve-wracking moment live.

“Death-defying feats have fascinated audiences for centuries and Evel was one of the most iconic daredevils in history whose drive, determination and boldness inspired America,” said Eli Lehrer, Executive Vice President of Programming, HISTORY. “50 years after Evel went head-to-head with danger at Caesar’s Palace, Travis will attempt to catapult his most ambitious stunts to unthinkable heights. This extraordinary live event will certainly be history in the making.”

“’Evel Live’ is a passion project we have been working on for a long time now with Travis,” said Andy Edwards, President of Nitro Circus. “We are so excited for viewers to see this thrilling event live on HISTORY as the centerpiece of Car Week.”

Alongside the three epic jumps will be live interviews with Knievel and Pastrana family members, archival footage of the history behind Knievel’s many daring jumps, and expert analysis. Evel Knievel was the world’s first iconic daredevil. Spanning a career of 15 years that saw 75 spectacular motorcycle jumps – and a few harrowing accidents – Knievel created a legacy that inspired generations and left audiences in awe of his audacious feats. Fast forward to the present day and Pastrana has stepped into Knievel’s shoes as America’s modern-day daredevil. Inspired by his predecessor, Pastrana was the first person ever to land a double backflip on a motorcycle and now leads Nitro Circus’ team of skilled athletes and adrenaline-charged thrill-seekers, which for 15 years have thrilled millions worldwide with their daring exploits.

“Evel Live” is produced by Nitro Circus Media Productions. Trip Taylor and Dave Mateus are executive producers for Nitro Circus Media Productions. Zachary Behr, Sean Boyle and Mary Donahue are executive producers for HISTORY.

History Unveils 100-Film Documentary Series, Sets Evel Knievel Live Event In July

History is taking the wraps off two major projects: the History 100, a set of 100 documentaries exploring the past 100 years, and a three-hour live event in July honoring daredevil Evel Knievel.

The projects were announced in the runup to parent A+E Networks’ upfront presentation this evening.

The documentary initiative, which has a working title of The History 100, is described as “an ambitious new strand comprised of 100 films focusing on the most compelling historical events of the last 100 years.” It aims to complement the network’s ongoing non-fiction and scripted programming.

Among the first eight films of the 100 are works from noted documentary filmmakers Barbara Kopple, Charles Ferguson, Daniel Junge and Werner Herzog. Topics will include the history of the video game industry the battle between Coke and Pepsi the story of Watergate former Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev and the Mercury 13 group of prospective female astronauts that ignited an early public debate on gender equality. (The Watergate project directed by Ferguson, an Oscar winner for Inside Job, was announced last spring.)

What Are the Most Insanely Daring Stunts Since Evel Knievel? - HISTORY

King of the Stuntmen

If you were alive in the 1970s and either had kids or were one, you surely remember Ideal's classic Evel Knievel toy line. These toys were as wild and as adventurous as the late great King of the Stuntmen himself. He stood small (just about 6 inches) but was flexible and durable, more of a "bendee" figure made of all rubber except for his vinyl head.

Best Buy recently posted a pretty neat look back to Black Friday over the years on their web site that shows prices dating back to the 70s for toys and other really popular items including the Evel Knievel stunt cycle in 1976. Definitely worth a look to walk through memory lane for toys and items like Creepy Cralwers, Lionel Trains, 2-XL, Atari and more. Check this out at Best Buy's History of Black Friday.

The basic figure came dressed in Knievel’s trademark American flag-adorned white jumpsuit and white shoes. Additional accessories included a helmet and, strangely enough, a cane. Some other outfits were sold like an adventure set and arctic adventure set as well a super rare set (see Did You Know?).

The Evel Knievel figures were a big hit and were quickly followed by the next logical step: stunt vehicles. After all, everyone wanted to fly as high as Knievel but no one wanted the multitude of broken bones that would inevitably be involved. Thus, Ideal’s Evel Knievel stunt vehicles provided a perfect solution to this dilemma. This long-lived line of vehicles began with the Stunt Cycle, a working miniaturized cycle piloted by a bendable Evel Knievel figure. The cycle was powered by a hand-cranked power launcher that got its engine going and could then be launched towards any stunt-obstacle its user’s fevered imagination could dream up. Lastly, there was Evel's favorite weekend retreat vehicle - the Scramble Van!

Ideal Toys also unveiled a series of playsets to provide unique backdrops for the antics of the Evel Knievel stunt vehicles. There was the Stunt Stadium, which included a ramp and cheering crowds painted into its bleachers, and Stunt World, which included a three-dimensional obstacle course for Knievel to ride his cycle through. One of the strangest Evel Knievel playsets was the Escape From Skull Canyon set, which included a werewolf-style monster, boulders, and skull-adorned trees as obstacles for Knievel.

Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle

Evel Knievel Dragster

Evel Knievel Scramble Van

Evel Knievel Stunt Stadium

Evel Knievel Stunt & Crash Car

Evel Knievel Fast Tracker

Pops Wheelies! Also available in white.

Evel Knievel Sky Cycle

Evel Knievel Super Jet Cycle

Sparks created by real flints (you had to replace them)!

Evel Knievel Trail Bike

Rare Arxon (Germany) Chopper

Escape from Skull Canyon Playset

Evel Knievel Stunt World

Evel Knievel Road and Trail Adventure Set

Evel Knievel Strato-cycle

This is the "Super Rare" Evel Knievel "STRATO-CYCLE." This motorcycle was produced to tie-in with the "Viva Knievel" movie featuring Evel Knievel himself.
This is very hard to find! If you find one loose, you'll be lucky enough to just find the motorcycle itself! The other accessories, can be purchased with ease, since most were interchangeable. These other accessories are normally the same Evel Knievel doll w/helmet & cane, & the hand operated Launcher. Just getting the right colored Evel Knievel cloths (since he came in 3 different colors) & the right Launcher color (also came in numerous colors) will take a little time. But who cares! As long as you have one of these baby's, that's all that matters!

Once the popularity of the original Evel line had been established, Ideal unleashed the Robbie Knievel action figure on us. At just a tad shorter and thinner than the King, Robbie is of the same design and fairly hard to find in good condition.

In an effort to grab the attention of young girls everywhere, Ideal released Derry Daring in 1976. Although the line was not a huge success, it included such great items as a Trick Cycle (of course), Wheelie Car and Baja Camper.

In addition to the Evel Knievel stunt vehicles and playsets, Ideal also found much success with several die-cast Knievel vehicles, a series of miniatures, and even a board game. This sounds like quite a lot already, but other companies produced countless other Evel Knievel toys and novelties. There were Knievel lunchboxes, bicycles, comic books, pillowcases, bedsheets, trashcans, radios and model rockets. There was even an Evel Knievel electric toothbrush that was designed to look like the famous X-2 Sky-Cycle. Several of the classic stunt-toys were also reissued by Playing Mantis Toys in 1998 and found much favor with nostalgic Knievel fans. The continued popularity of these toys shows that Evel Knievel and the toys he inspired are phenomena with true staying power.

Ideal also released an extremely (and I mean extremely) rare and limited issue (talking less than 100 sold) of five outfits for Evel Knievel to dress up in. Available through mail order they came packaged with a white outfit figure. A really, really great find!

Have a question about a toy you have or one you are looking for? Send me an e-mail!

Watch the video: 15 Unbelievable Stunts People Pulled