A restored Mack cabover will be part of an exhibit of memorabilia about Robert Craig "Evel" Knievel, a 20th Century motorcycle daredevil and showman.
Mack Trucks says it is partnering with Historic Harley-Davidson, a dealer in Topeka, Kans., and Lathan McKay, of Evel Knievel Enterprises and collector of the stuntman’s memorabilia, to revive the 1960s and ‘70s character’s legacy through a traveling and permanent exhibit featuring thousands of items.
A cornerstone of the exhibit is a fully restored 1974 Mack FS cabover known as “Big Red” that Knievel used as his show truck. The FS786LST model cabover, complete with red, white and blue interior to match Knievel’s Americana theme, as well as a custom-built dressing room that sits like a long sleeper on the truck’s frame rails, was discovered in a yard in Clearwater, Fla., before being taken to Topeka for restoration.
Mack provided two Pinnacle tractors – 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.
The sleeper-cab tractor will transport the restored FS model as the exhibit makes its way to stops across the country. The Pinnacle has a 505-hp MP8 engine and an mDrive automated manual transmission.
The traveling exhibit features Knievel’s leathers, motorcycles, helmets, medical X-rays and casts — he reportedly broke 40 bones in spills and crashes during his stunts — and thousands of other items. It will be hauled by the Pinnacle daycab with a 415-hp MP8.
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 1974 attempt to vault the Snake River Canyon near Twin Falls, Idaho, with a rocket-powered "Skycycle" 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 '74 Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, Ont. Many stories about Knievel and photos of him are on the Internet, and videos of his jumps are on YouTube.
“Evel Knievel would give his word about a jump and follow through, no matter the circumstances,” said John Walsh, the truck builder’s vice president of marketing. “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 truck-borne exhibit is traveling this week 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. Dak.