Las Vegas, Nevada, New Years Day, 1968 - Caesars Palace, Evel Knievel attempted to jump the fountains at the famous casino. His landing was unsuccessful, although the jump nearly killed the man, his status as an American icon was born to a world-wide audience on National Television. Evel Knievel recovered from his crash at Caesars Palace and subsequently catapulted himself into instant stardom.
Evel carved his own path as the world's greatest daredevil and emulated no one - a true original in every sense of the word. Evel Knievel built his unique brand with pure guts and showmanship. If Elvis Presley was "the King," then Evel Knievel was the Emperor! Setting out to entertain the world with his serious stunts, EK got real serious about taking his show abroad and he relied on two American big rigs to do it.
Evel had designed a custom hauler to transport his show, complete with living quarters. Making his debut with his new rig in 1971 at the cow palace in San Francisco, the world got a first look at Evel's one-of-a-kind rig. Originally, EK used a Kenworth cab-over to take his incredible "Death-Defying" show on the road. On February 17th, 1974, in North Richmond Hill, Texas, Evel Knievel Jumped his XR-750 Harley Davidson over 11 Mack Trucks - successfully! That was no coincidence. Evel had a falling out with Kenworth and Mack Trucks were happy to accommodate Knievel with a brand new Mack FS786LST for his transportation needs! Evel Jumped Mack Trucks numerous times in 1974 and then made a historical appearance on ABC's Wide World of Sports in Twin Falls Idaho attempting to jump the Snake River Canyon.
The Mack was seen on National TV for that famous Snake River Canyon Jump. After two failed test rockets at the canyon, Evel was out of financial resources but was committed to attempting the canyon jump. With TV contracts to honor and millions of fans to entertain, Evel held his word. In the hours leading up to the attempt, Evel was holed up inside his famous Mack. Imagine the private conversations that took place between Evel, his family, his manager, the TV producers. Try to imagine what that truck meant to Evel . It was his home away from home and, perhaps, the last bastion between himself, and eminent death.
Like a loyal family member, Evel's rig was present at all of his events. His American big rig and driver never missed an event. Evel had "Color Me Lucky" painted on his helmets. He also hung a lucky horseshoe above the doorway in the living quarters of his rig. He would touch it every time he went out the door to attempt one of his jumps. In retrospect, Evel was lucky - very lucky. Evel performed 56 shows from 1974-1977, including his Wembley jump in the UK. At every one of those shows, was his trusty Mack rig.
Sometimes Evel did not have the choice to leave events in his rig, but in an ambulance instead. His rigs mission though, held steadfast. His ramps, motorcycles and tools had to get to the next event whether it was to Australia or to Evel's last big jump at at King's Island, Ohio on October 25, 1975.
His rig was often seen on TV by millions and was a sure-fire spectacle at his live events. Evel's stunt career faded out in the late 1970's . . . No longer in need the rig for his transport needs, he toured with the truck with his heir-apparent son, Robbie Knievel from 1977-1981.
Evel held onto his rig until he died in 2007. The rig was stored in Arizona at his friend's place for several years. In the 80's, Evel was living in Tampa, FL. He wanted to get his rig restored and painted back to the red scheme he used, so he had his truck shipped by train to Tampa in 1989. He twice tried to have the rig restored, but failed and eventually passed away in 2007.
After Evel's death, Jeff Lowe, manager of Robbie Knievel, was given the opportunity to buy the rig and did. Jeff is one of the premier Evel Knievel collectors in the world. Jeff's passion for "all things Evel" began when he first saw Evel on TV in the 1970's. Robb Mariani, (host and Executive Producer of American Trucker on Speed) a fellow life-long fan of Evel Knievel, went on a quest to find the legendary rig he had seen on TV as a child. Convincing his fellow Executive Producers and network Executives that a "Finding Evel" episode needed to be done - failure or not, for the hit TV series on Speed Channel, American Trucker, the plan was in motion. While filming an episode about finding Evel's rig, his friend, Daredevil Bubba Blackwell, led Robb to Jeff Lowe on a tip during filming. The rest is history.
After contacting Jeff Lowe and meeting up with Jeff - and his Evel rig - at a steamy Florida location, Robb asked Jeff if they could try to get the legendary rig to Brad Wike's 10th annual antique truck show in North Carolina and Jeff agreed, with the hope of getting the truck on the right path to restoration.
Brad enlisted the help of another friend, Roy "Skeeter" of Skeet's Towing Service to tow the rig to the event. The truck made it to the event, as if by instinct - Evel's Mack going to one last event . . .
Since filming wrapped on the episode of American Trucker, the rig has begun getting restored at Brad's Classic Truck Shop. The real work to restore the rig has yet to come. Countless man hours and parts are needed to resurrect the legendary Evel rig. We are looking forward to preserving the truck for future generations and educating them on a piece of American pop culture, and the man behind it - Evel Knievel. The truck can't be done without the aid of sponsorships and, frankly, this is one mission that needs to be accomplished. There will never be another Evel Knievel, and there is only one Evel Knievel Mack rig. We like to think that the truck has much more than one more event, but hundreds more to attend!
Please help donate to this worthy cause - restoring Evel's spirit.