Jumping Into The Evel Knievel Museum

It’s too bad that Evel Knievel, who was 69 when he died from diabetes and lung disease in 2007, never got the chance to visit the museum dedicated to his life and memory. He would have been as overwhelmed and impressed as any visitor by the sprawling, artifact-packed Official Evel Knievel Museum.

Mike Patterson, who owns Historic Harley-Davidson of Topeka, Kansas, and a number of partners came up with the idea for the museum. You can read a detailed account of the venture by clicking here. While Topeka is a questionable choice to locate the museum, Mike’s passion and commitment to make it happen can’t be faulted. Las Vegas (The Caesar’s Palace Jump) or Butte, Montana, (where Evel was born) may have been better locations for attracting visitors but neither location had a Mike Patterson to champion the idea.

The biggest drawback to the museum’s location is that the place needs to be enjoyed over multiple visits. The sheer volume of historical information and artifacts is too large to digest in one visit. This is a place I would visit a few times a year if my travels took me through Topeka.

If you are a die-hard Evel fan, chances are you’ve already made the trip. If you have future plans to visit the museum, let me recommend that you plan to split your time over a two-day visit to the hallowed halls. Trying to cram everything in during a single visit can be frustrating and exhausting. And, if you are into barbecue, don’t miss Henry’s Grill in the Historic Harley-Davidson building. Heck, they even have a hair salon in case you are feeling a little shaggy. Wonder if they offer an Evel cut?

Before the Triumphs, Harleys and American Eagles, there was a Honda just like this replica. Evel’s first shows were to promote a Honda Motorcycle dealership.
A hand-written note and drawing from “Bobby” to his mom for Easter. Serious research went into compiling the memorabilia.
Look, but no touching! It is so tempting to throw a leg over any of the displayed motorcycles. Maybe the museum could raise funds by offering VIP photo opportunities on certain bikes.
Evel made way more money on his product endorsements than he ever did jumping his motorcycles. The museum has a mind-boggling collection of everything from bicycles to window shades.
Evel’s outfits use iconic graphics that are still imitated (and ripped-off) today. You can dress like Evel, but you can’t ride like Evel.
Evel sponsored a motocross race before his Snake River Jump that offered a purse bigger than any AMA National of the time. Canceled checks to Jim Pomeroy, Greg Robinson, Gary Jones, Jimmy Weinert and Brad Lackey are on display.
Looking into the cab of Evel’s Big Red truck that housed his on-the-road office, jump ramps and motorcycles. This truck is the heart of the museum and was lovingly restored by the museum’s owners.
Everyone talks about Evel’s big crashes. The museum does Evel’s legacy justice by listing all the jumps he completed successfully.
Gail gets ready for her big jump. The virtual-reality jump needs an upgrade. The bike throttle should do something, the wind in the face needs to be stronger and the suspension should compressed and rebounded. Maybe you should be able to miss the landing ramp! I’d pay twice as much for that.
Being this close to the Skycycle X-2 is a religious experience for any Evel fan.

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