Most students are familiar with extreme or action sports, but few know much about Evel Knievel, who is credited with creating an enthusiastic generation of thrill-seekers and daredevils, and inspiring the X-Games. The Evel Knievel Museum opened in Topeka, Kansas, last year to share the life story of the motorcycle stuntman and offer lessons in mathematics, science and anatomy, along with a thrilling 4-D virtual reality jump experience.
“He was the godfather of all the extreme sports we know today,” said Amanda Beach, marketing director for the museum. “The extreme professionals will tell you their hero or inspiration was Evel Knievel. There was nobody doing what he was doing until he came along.”
The Evel Knievel Museum is a partnership between a determined collector, the Knievel family and Historic Harley-Davidson of Topeka.
It displays the largest collection of Knievel’s leathers, the fully restored 1974 Mack Truck and trailer that he used to haul ramps and as his dressing room, and the original Bell Star helmet he wore for the Caesar’s Palace jump, known as the crash that made him famous.
Most of the memorabilia had been in private collections, unavailable to the public until now. Exhibits cover 20 of his record-setting and most infamous jumps, with historic video clips, photos, motorcycles and artifacts, while interactive stations offer hands-on lessons.
Students learn the algebra behind a jump at the touch screen exhibit “Plan Your Jump,” which allows visitors to select distance, speed, ramp angle and obstacles, and attempt their jump.
“Bad to Bone” explores anatomy by showing actual Knievel X-rays on giant touch screens. With video footage, the exhibit connects his injuries to the jumps that caused them.
An engine and suspension display shows the science behind Knievel’s motorcycles and the steam-powered rocket used in one stunt.
Call ahead to make reservations for student tours. The museum has on-site motorcoach parking and shares a gift shop with the Harley dealership.
For more information, call 785-215-6205 or visit evelknievelmuseum.com.
Article by MeLinda Schnyder