Evel Knievel

History

Evel Knievel at Madison Square Garden

A 1971 issue of the New Yorker described Evel Knievel as “a thirty-two-year-old native of Butte, Montana, who makes his living by riding a motorcycle at high speed up a wood-and-steel ramp, off the top, and into the air, with the intention of landing it on another ramp some distance away.” Today, we’re all familiar with the images of videos of the famed daredevil¬†jumping over things on his Harley, but 45 years ago, Knievel was making his first trip to NYC.

Madison Square Garden was hosting an event called the Auto Thrill Show, and as part of it, Knievel jumped over 10 vehicles, nine cars and one van–the max that could fit in the space–to a crowd “worked up to a point of high tension, apprehension, and excitement.” These feelings weren’t based on the length of the jump (he had set a world record earlier that year when he made it over 19 cars in Ontario, California), but rather the mere 75 feet of concrete¬†between the end of the takeoff ramp and the beginning of the landing.

So what happened?

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