Kelly Knievel is legendary daredevil Evel Knievel’s oldest son, though he mostly describes himself as an avid golfer and fisherman.
On Saturday, he shot 76 at the Southern Nevada Golf Association Henderson Amateur at Revere Golf Club. On Sunday, he shot 75 to finish sixth, 11 shots in arrears of UNLV’s Justin Chong, who won, and nine shots back of former PGA touring pro Edward Fryatt, who was second.
The competition is keen on the local amateur golf circuit. Plus, it doesn’t pay anything to finish sixth, or, for that matter, first or second.
So on Thursday, Kelly Knievel said he was putting some of his dad’s stuff up for auction. He discussed the details at Evel Pie on Fremont Street downtown — on National Pizza Day. This was strictly coincidence, but it also seemed appropriate.
The items up for bid are his old man’s leathers and walking stick. The iconic white jumpsuit adorned with stars and stripes is one of two Kelly has possessed. The other one is in the Smithsonian, he said.
This is the one “as close as we can authenticate” that Evel wore when he jumped his motorcycle over 50 stacked cars at Los Angeles Coliseum in 1973. The cane he toted with a certain swagger on “The Tonight Show” with Johnny Carson.
Evel Knievel, a part-time Las Vegas resident, died in Florida in 2007. The items will be offered through noted collectibles dealer Heritage Auctions during a show in Dallas on Feb. 25 and 26. The descriptions are begging for the J. Peterman Company catalogue treatment:
“The leathers are Evel Knievel’s signature ‘American flag’ design. Its flamboyant look celebrates “the land of the free and the home of the brave” that he loved. The garment features blue and red accents to the white leather, is boldly monogrammed with his ‘E K’ initials, weighs over six and a half pounds, and exhibits clear evidence of ‘road rash’ that documents the danger Knievel faced every time he performed before a crowd ….”
It doesn’t get any more authentic than clear evidence of road rash.
And the cane?
“The diamond-studded black walking stick is almost as identifiable with Evel’s larger-than-life persona as the jumpsuit; he can be seen holding it in just about any photograph in which his hands are not gripping the handlebars of a Harley.
Under a gold head decorated with a motorcycle and rider depicted in diamonds, the walking stick features a hidden liquor compartment. For Knievel, the alcohol was as much for self medicating as for celebrating. Doctors reassembled his shattered bones after his spectacular crashes, but pain was a constant companion for the famed daredevil …”
Kelly Knievel, 56, shared this while sitting in a booth at Evel Pie, which was nearly packed on a Thursday afternoon around 2 p.m. He was working on a delectable slice of cheese and sipping a beverage that was not served in a hidden liquor department, but in a 12-ounce can. A bronze statue of his father loomed large over his shoulder; framed photographs of Evel, some including Kelly, were stacked up like buses at Wembley Stadium across one wall.
“Well, first of all, I had to buy ’em from my dad a long time ago,” Knievel said about putting the leathers and walking stick on the auction block. “Second of all, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do with ’em — am I just supposed to leave them in my closet and die with ’em in my grave? I’d rather somebody out there enjoy them for cryin’ out loud.”
With 12 days remaining before auction day, preliminary bids for the leathers and the walking stick were up to $32,000 and $19,000, respectively.
“There’s a lot of athletes, a lot of stamps, a lot of baseball cards. There’s only one Evel Knievel,” his offspring said as Evel wings arrived at our table. “So I don’t know what the market’s going to ultimately value them at.”
Like his old man’s Skycycle at Snake River Canyon, there’s really no telling how high they will go.