EVEL KNIEVEL | TRIUMPH OVER THE FOUNTAINS AT CAESARS PALACE

Evel Knievel rode several brands of bikes during his career. He started-off on a 350cc Honda, switched to a 750cc Norton in 1966, then Triumph from 1966-1968, Laverda 750cc American Eagle from December 1969 to April 1970, and in December 1970 Harley-Davidson became Knievel’s sponsor and he began riding an XR-750– the bike he is most commonly associated with. Knievel has often said that his Triumph was by far the best bike he ever jumped with– “The Harley’s got a little too much torque when it comes to jumping,” according to him.

San Francisco, 1967–  Evel Knievel’s ’67  Triumph Bonneville 650 T120 TT Special jump bike– love the “Color Me Lucky” paint job.

“Anybody can jump a motorcycle. The trouble begins when you try to land it.” 

~Evel Knievel

1967, San Francisco — Evel Knievel jumps his 1967 Triumph motorcycle between two ramps, 100 feet apart, to open a Sports Cycle Exhibition. –The Associated Press/File photo

“You can fall many times in life, but you’re never a failure as long as you try to get up.”

~Evel Knievel

Evel Knievel (on his Triumph motorcycle) prior to jumping over the Caesars Palace fountains in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve, 1967. This was the stunt that put Evel Knievel on the map. He had been in Vegas in November of ’67  to see a boxing title fight, when he saw the fountains and crafted his plan. He quickly created Evel Knievel Enterprises (totally fictitious) and Knievel and his buddies repeatedly called the casino’s CEO Jay Sarno claiming to be Evel Knievel’s lawyers, as well as representatives from ABC-TV, and Sports Illustrated inquiring about this incredible upcoming jump. It worked, and the date was set for Knievel to jump the fountains at Caesars Palace on December 31, 1967. ABC-TV declined to air the event live on Wide World of Sports as Knievel had hoped, so he hired actor/director John Derek to film the Caesars’ jump. It was truly a low-budget production– Derek even employed his then-wife Linda Evans as a cameraman and she shot Knievel’s now famous landing. (She would later become a household name on the TV show, Dynasty. BTW, John Derek’s other wives included Ursula Andress and Bo Derek– he shot all three for Playboy).  — Image by © Bettmann/Corbis.

“In the old days they, the promoters, wanted more and more from me. They wanted me to jump or spill my blood and break my bones. Every time they wanted me to jump further, and further, and further. Hell, they thought my bike had wings.”

~ Evel Knievel

Legend has it that on the morning of the epic jump, Knievel popped into the Caesars Palace casino and lost his last 100 dollars at the blackjack table, had a shot of Wild Turkey at the bar, then headed outside to the jump site where he was joined by two showgirls. He went through the motions for the pre-jump show, and took a few routine warm-up approaches. According to Knievel, on the actual approach the motorcycle unexpectedly decelerated when he hit the takeoff ramp. The sudden loss of speed caused Knievel to come up short of the projected 141 feet, and he landed on the safety ramp supported by a van. The bad news was– the resulting crash left Knievel in a coma for a month, a crushed pelvis and femur, as well as fractures to his hip, wrist and both ankles. The doctors flatly told him he may never even walk on his own again. The good news was– Evel Knievel was now famous beyond his wildest dreams. ABC-TV had purchased the rights to the jump footage (paying far more than if they had just televised the original jump live) and the world was in awe of this dashing daredevil. — Image by © Bettmann/Corbis

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Evel Knievel (on his Triumph motorcycle) prior to jumping over the Caesars Palace fountains in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve, 1967.

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Evel Knievel stunt-riding on his Triumph Bonneville motorcycle in the late ’60s. 

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“If a guy hasn’t got any gamble in him– he isn’t worth a crap.”

~Evel Knievel

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Evel Knievel pulling a wheelie on his Triumph Bonneville motorcycle — Image Mahony Photo Archives

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Evel Knievel performing a standing wheelie on his Triumph motorcycle in the late ’60s.

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Evel Knievel’s nitro-powered Triumph Bonneville (with make-shift wings and twin jet-engines) that he planned to use to jump the Grand Canyon. The National Park Service rightly expressed concern over the stunt harming the canyon, and Triumph notified Knievel that they would void the warranty on his Bonneville due to the addition of twin jet-engines. Thank God this knucklehead stunt was never realized, as it very likely would have meant Knievel’s early demise. (via Motorcyclist)
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Evel Knievel’s experimental nitro-powered Triumph Bonneville motorcycle rigged with wings and twin jet-engines that he hoped to jump the Gand Canyon with in the late ’60s.  (via Motorcyclist)

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Evel Knievel poses with sons Kelly (right) and Robbie at the rim of the Grand Canyon, c. 1968. via On May 20, 1999, Robbie followed in his Daddy’s footsteps and jumped a part of the Canyon (with a depth of 2,500 feet) on his Honda motorcycle for a personal best distance record of 228 feet. He crashed on landing and broke his leg.

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Evel Knievel featured above in Motorcycle Sport Book, 1968, detailing his plans to rig a nitro-powered Triumph Bonneville with wings and twin jet engines to jump the Grand Canyon. Jeezuz, that would’ve been a colossal disaster. (via Megadeluxe)

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“It will reach 250 miles an hour soaring over the Canyon with its twin jet engines and nitro burning Bonneville engine. It will accelerate to 158 miles an hour in 3.7 seconds.”

~Evel Knievel, on his plans to jump the Grand Canyon

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A rare shot of Evel Knievel’s Laverda 750cc American Eagle motorcycle that he rode from December 1969 to April 1970.

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A rare shot of Evel Knievel on his Laverda 750cc American Eagle motorcycle that he rode from December 1969 to April 1970.

evel knievel 1966 wall of fire motorcycle

Evel Knievel crashing through a wall of fire– Butte, Montana, 1966.

HOUSE OF EVEL: Evel Knievel on tumblr.

4 thoughts on “EVEL KNIEVEL | TRIUMPH OVER THE FOUNTAINS AT CAESARS PALACE

  1. I broke 21 bones, when my Chopper went down in Nam’….. I think this guy “Doubled that” in his career!

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