Evel Kneivel is an American hero. While he wasn’t the first daredevil of his kind he is, arguably, the most famous. The prime of his career was at a time when the World needed him the most, whether it was the escalation of the Vietnam War, the Watergate and Nixon resignation or the oil crisis of the late 1970’s – Evel Knievel was there donning his famous red, white and blue leather jumpsuit showing us what’s possible and kicking ass while doing it. Now you can finally visit his historic museum in Topeka, KS.
Between 1960 and 1980, Evel Knievel attempted over 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps as well as the Skycycle jump over Snake River Canyon. Only once did he jump in the state of Kansas, but it was in Hutchinson which is about a 2.5-hour drive from Topeka.
Evel’s more famous motorcycle jumps include 13 single-decker buses in London, 14 Greyhound buses at King’s Island and of course the failed attempt to jump the Fountains and Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas, NV. He even jumped 13 sharks which, ironically, was his final actual jump of his illustrious career crashing in practice breaking his collar bone and right arm. He scheduled two more jumps in Australia and Puerto Rico, but wasn’t able to jump either of them.
“Anybody can jump a motorcycle. The trouble begins when you try to land it.”
So why Topeka? It turns out that half of Knievel’s crew is from Kansas, but one of the most interesting connections Evel Knievel had with Topeka is one of his primary inspirations for his career was from there. George “Joie” Chitwood (of the Joie Chitwood Thrill Show) got his racing start at the Topeka Shawnee County Fairgrounds, less than 100 yards from the home of the Evel Knievel Museum. Following Chitwood’s racing career, which included seven Indianapolis 500 races, the Joie Chitwood Thrill Show made a chance visit to Butte, Montana in 1953. There 15-year-old Bobby Knievel was in the stands and he never forgot deciding then to pursue a career of risking his life as he thrilled millions and millions of adoring fans.
With a total investment of more than $5 million, the Evel Knievel Museum allows visitors to experience Evel Knievel’s journey to super-stardom and view hundreds of authentic items that belonged to Evel.
Evel’s motorcycles – Harley’s, Triumphs, Norton’s
Kievel’s genuine leathers and helmets
“Big Red,” Knievel’s fully-restored Mack Truck
Evel’s personal and never-before-seen memorabilia
Virtual Reality 4-D Jump Experience
Broken Bones Interactive, including Evel’s actual X-rays
“Plan Your Jump” Interactive Challenge
Engine & Suspension Interactive
Snake River Experience Room featuring Knievel’s actual X2 Skycycle