Thursday, September 16, 2010

We Hardly Knew Ye: Nic Knievel

Evel's younger brother (and Robbie's uncle) died on Sunday in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho at age 70. Nic didn't seem too interested in talking publicly about Evel, declining most interview requests (including mine), though he did appear on the Evel episode of the E! True Hollywood Story in 1998.

Curiously, Nic's brief daredevil career does not appear in his Montana Standard obit. So, from Evel Incarnate...
Nic raced cars in the ‘60s before becoming an auto dealer in Eugene, Oregon, where he and his wife Rusty raised four children. In a possible case of sibling rivalry (or evidence that risk-taking really is genetic), Nic sold the dealership in 1977 and began attempting ramp-to-ramp jumps in a car. Evel and Nic’s father Robert Knievel built a “Mini Indy” racecar around a snowmobile engine for Nic to use for jumps. Like Evel, Nic was articulate and wore a similar stars-and-stripes costume, but he lacked Evel’s stage presence... Nic’s first scheduled performance, an attempt of 112 feet, was to take place in Yakima in September 1977. In a shorter practice jump a few days earlier, he flew twenty feet beyond his landing ramp, came down sideways on two wheels, and fractured three vertebrae. In July 1978, he came back with a 110-foot leap in Redding, California, followed the next month by a jump of 113 feet at the Eugene Speedway. Nic then claimed the world record, saying he bettered Joie Chitwood’s car-jump mark by two feet. He then planned to ride across the US on a motorized skateboard and make a world record boat jump, though neither stunt ever happened.
The images were scanned from crappy photocopies in my files.

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