Optional page text here. The Beast's Lair: The Beast Honors: Evel Knievel

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Beast Honors: Evel Knievel

Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel, the greatest daredevil of all time, has died.

My first real interaction with Evel Knievel came in 1989 when I was 13 years old. On our cable in Kingsport, TN was a new thing called "Pay Per View." Robbie Knievel, Evel's son, was going to attempt the famous jump at Caesars Palace that made his father a superstar. Of course, Evel became a superstar at Caesars because he missed the jump, and the resulting crash remains the "best" of all time. Robbie went on to successfully make the jump, but an hour before he jumped, the "pay per view" channel aired a documentary of Evel's previous jumps with Evel himself documenting all his victories and defeats. I was in awe.

Evel was speaking in a dramatic yet calm voice about all the craziness he endured during his days of jumping. He has some truly classic lines over the years as several documentaries have been made about his career. Among my favorites are:

"I knew I was going to die, but I had to do it for the fans."
"I was over at Snake River the other day and I didn't see a big line of daredevils waiting to jump the canyon."
"As they counted down from 10, I closed my eyes and said, Lord, here I come."

There are many great motorcycle jumpers today, including Evel's son Robbie. All of Evel's records have been broken. Nevertheless, Evel will always go down as the greatest. There are multiple reasons why this is true, but the most significant is that he, for all practical purposes, invented the sport. This is why Hulk Hogan will always be the greatest wrestler. He was far from the best technically, but he is clearly the best. Evel did not use computers and analysts to judge the speed and direction of the wind. He did not even have a speedometer on his bicycles. He just went by feel and jumped. That is why people will be watching his jumps for years and years to come. And this is not to downplay his ability on a motorcycle. In his day, he was probably the best rider in the world.

I was most happy to read this from the official Evel Knievel website:

"And lastly, most important to him above all was his new-found faith in Jesus Christ. Just as he always took great care in surrounding himself with the best people he could depend upon to help him make his jumps during his motorcycle career, Knievel found his greatest friend of all in preparation for his final leap from life. He was profoundly happy that he gave his life to God, who comforted him and gave him the strength he needed to make it through the end."

And so, The Beast says farewell!


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