Kansas museum honors Evel Knievel, the godfather of extreme sports
By Jay Jones
Aug 16, 2017 | 6:00 AM
Evel Knievel’s X-rays of broken bones are displayed alongside banged-up gear at a newly opened museum devoted to the daredevil on two wheels.
“Anybody can jump a motorcycle,” he famously said. “The trouble begins when you try to land it.”
The museum, which opened earlier this summer in Topeka, Kan., makes no bones about the fact that the daredevil is known nearly as well for his failed jumps as his successful ones.
Knievel, who died in 2007 and is now regarded as the godfather of extreme sports, made his reputation in the 1960s and ’70s for his courageous — some would say crazy — attempts to soar through the air above the fountains outside Caesars Palace in Las Vegas and the Snake River Canyon in Idaho. Both failed.
The daredevil managed to clear the fountains at Caesars on New Year’s Eve day, 1967, but crashed on landing.
Having fractured several bones, he ushered in 1968 in a Las Vegas hospital. The scratched and scored helmet that may have saved his life is displayed at the museum.
Bad luck followed Knievel to Idaho for his Sept. 8, 1974, jump at Snake River Canyon. He made it across, but the parachute of his steam-powered "Skycycle" opened prematurely, dragging him down into the canyon. He suffered minor injuries.
Visitors can get their own adrenaline rush during the 4-D Virtual Reality Jump Experience at the museum. You put on virtual-reality goggles and straddle a jump bike as the motorcycle rumbles and the wind whooshes past. Don’t worry, a safe and soft landing is assured.
Visitors also can view clips from Knievel’s jumps in a 1970s-era movie theater.
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