The Evel Knievel Museum: Now Open

It’s not something any shop or dealership can do, constructing a two-story addition to house a vast collection of artifacts related to the world’s most iconic daredevil. But Historic Harley-Davidson (HH-D) in Topeka, Kansas has pulled off precisely that and in splendid fashion.

Visitors access the new Evel Knievel Museum by a dedicated entrance, then, after two floors of authentic motorcycles, leathers, rare video footage and interactive features, they exit into the dealership showroom. Great planning, certainly, but the overall concept was far more serendipitous.

Third-generation HH-D owner Mike Patterson met collector, producer and entrepreneur Lathan McKay in 2015 after McKay had acquired Knievel’s “Big Red” Mack truck rig. Patterson boldly agreed to restore it, though he’d never worked on one, and as he learned about McKay’s growing collection he got an idea: Why not amass the artifacts in one place and create a destination?

Evel Knievel made headlines and history from the mid ’60s to the early ’80s for his daring motorcycle jumping and risk-taking attitude, deriving as much fame from the jumps he failed to make – and the resulting injuries – as those he completed. For Patterson, the subject matter was a major factor.

See, a four-year-old Patterson saw Knievel jump at the Kansas State Fair and he never forgot it. Shortly thereafter he was a national-number dirttrack racer, much like today’s athletes who still honor Knievel as the godfather of extreme sports.

Once the decision was made, city and state tourism officials opted in and Topeka businessman Jim Caplinger, who was also enamored with the subject matter, jumped in enthusiastically to bolster the collection with several pivotal additions. Construction was completed by last fall so HH-D staff could work inside through the winter; they handled 95% of the graphics, copy, video and installations in house. Museum Director Bruce Zimmerman said, “It’s really showcased what our people are capable of.”

The H H-D team (left to right): Museum Director Bruce Zimmerman, Museum Co-Founder and HH-D Owner Mike Patterson, HH-D General Manager Eli Geiger, and Amanda Beach, Museum Graphics & Marketing Director.

Yes, they developed in-kind partnerships with local businesses and hired pros for the sophisticated Bad To The Bones touch screen wall and Virtual Reality Jump, a fully immersive 4-D experience. The Plan-A-Jump interactive wall and Snake River Experience address STEM educational directives such as the SkyCycle’s steam-power and the physics of a successful jump. What a way to teach science and engineering on school field trips!

With authenticity and passion, HH-D’s Evel Knievel Museum extends American pop culture’s fascination with the world’s ultimate risk-taker and bone-breaker, engaging riders and non-riders alike.

The Evel Knievel Museum
At Historic Harley-Davidson
2047 SW Topeka Blvd, Topeka, KS 66612; Ph: 785-215-6205
Hours: Tuesday through Friday,
10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

You May Also Like

Top Canadian Superbike Riders Ben Young and Trevor Daley Join Team BATTLAX

Young and Daley will debut on the Bridgestone-backed effort at the Daytona 200 March 7-9, 2024.

Ben Young and Trevor Daley, Team BATTLAX

Bridgestone Americas announced it has teamed up with top Canadian Superbike Championship riders Ben Young and Trevor Daley to form Team BATTLAX, which will debut at the 82nd running of the Daytona 200 March 7-9, 2024, at Daytona International Speedway. Team BATTLAX will compete on a pair of identical custom Suzuki Canada GSX-R750 builds featuring Bridgestone BATTLAX race tires.

Team HRC to Enter FIM E-Xplorer World Cup

The FIM E-Xplorer World Cup is an endurocross discipline featuring exclusively electric motocross bikes.

Polaris Off Road Unveils Full Driver Lineup for 2024 King of the Hammers

In addition to the Polaris Factory Racing team, fellow Polaris-supported racers Branden Sims, Wayne and Kristen Matlock, Justin Lambert and Sierra Romo are all set to compete in Desert Challenge.

King of the Hammers, Polaris RZR Pro
Polaris Off Road Welcomes Max Eddy Jr. as 4th Factory Driver for 2024 Race Season

The five-time Baja 500 and Baja 1000 champion will pilot one of Polaris’ purpose-built RZR Pro R Factory vehicles.

Max Eddy Jr., Polaris Off Road Team
Cody Webb Wins the 2024 LIQUI MOLY King of the Motos for the 6th Time

Cody Webb dominated the U.S. Hard Enduro opening round in the three-lap, GPS-based race in Johnson Valley.

Cody Webb

Other Posts

Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Announces 2024 Inductees to Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame Class of 2024 is notable for its deep roots in the culture of motorcycling.

Sturgis Museum and Hall of Fame banquet
Ep. 119: Harley-Davidson CVO, Ducati Desmo and Kawasaki Off-Road Updates

The hype was real! Check out all the latest vehicle releases on two and four wheels.

OTT 119
Durango Harley-Davidson Welcomes New General Manager

Industry leader Tug Nethery joins the team to drive continued growth.

Tug Nethery
Harley-Davidson Reimagines 2 Iconic Touring Motorcycles

The all-new Street Glide and Road Glide models feature exceptional performance, cutting-edge innovation and bold designs.

2024 CVO Road Glide ST