Mack Trucks is breathing new life to the enduring legend of one of America’s greatest daredevils and showmen. The heavy-duty truck manufacturer is partnering with the Historic Harley-Davidson dealership in Topeka, and Lathan McKay, of Evel Knievel Enterprises, to revive the motorcycle daredevil’s legacy through a traveling and permanent exhibit featuring thousands of items.
“Evel Knievel was bold and determined,” said John Walsh, Mack Trucks vice president of marketing. “We share some of the same fundamental values — hard work, reliability, accountability and courage. At Mack, we are proud of our 115 years in the U.S.A., and to once again be the truck delivering the Evel Knievel experience across the country.”
Mack provided two Mack Pinnacle™ models — a daycab and a 70-inch high-rise sleeper — to help transport the exhibit. The permanent exhibit will be housed at Historic Harley-Davidson in Topeka. A cornerstone of the exhibit is the fully restored 1974 Mack FS786LST model known as “Big Red” that Knievel used as his show truck. The Mack FS cabover, complete with red, white and blue interior to match Knievel’s Americana theme, as well as a custom-built dressing room that sits on the truck’s frame rails, was discovered in a yard in Clearwater, Fla., before being brought to Topeka for restoration.
The Mack Pinnacle 70-inch high-rise sleeper will transport the Mack FS model as the exhibit makes its way to various stops across the country.
Along with the Mack FS model, the traveling exhibit features Knievel’s leathers, motorcycles, helmets, medical X-rays, casts and thousands of other items, which will be hauled by the Mack Pinnacle daycab. The items were collected by McKay, who began his quest about three years ago.
“Finding the Mack FS model was key because it was such a big part of Evel’s show,” McKay said. “It’s fitting that Mack trucks will haul the exhibit, including the Mack FS model that Evel used so many years ago, to once again bring Evel Knievel’s show back on the road.”
Knievel gained fame in the 1960s and became an American legend for his daredevil jumps. His nationally televised motorcycle jumps, including his attempt to jump the Snake River Canyon in Twin Falls, Idaho, represent four of the 20 most-watched sports events in history.
Mack’s relationship with Knievel extended beyond him using the Mack FS as his show truck. Knievel also jumped 13 Mack trucks lined up side-by-side during the 1974 Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, Ontario.
“Evel Knievel would give his word about a jump and follow through, no matter the circumstances,” Walsh said. “At Mack, we incorporate the same philosophy into all that we do, whether it’s developing products or ensuring our customers receive excellent service and support.”
The exhibit next travels to Evel Knievel Days, July 23-25 in Butte, Mont., Knievel’s birthplace, before visiting the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Aug. 3-9 in Sturgis, S.D.