Mack Trucks recently announced at a press conference in Topeka, KS, a partnership that brings 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 and collector of Knievel memorabilia, 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.”
See gallery here.
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, FL, 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.
“The Pinnacle model is well-suited for the task, easily handling the rigors of the road, while offering the power and performance expected of a Mack,” the company said. “Featuring the Mack MP8 505C engine with 505 horsepower and 1,760 lb.-ft. torque and the mDRIVE automated manual transmission, the Pinnacle model is designed for durable over-the-road hauling.”
“The Pinnacle also is equipped with the Mack Twin Y Air Suspension, the trucking industry’s first suspension to utilize an innovative Y-shaped high-strength steel design,” the company continued. “The Twin Y’s design means the load on the suspension is entirely on the air ride and not on the pivot bushing, delivering unmatched comfort, handling and fuel efficiency for highway customers.“
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, featuring a Mack MP8 engine with 415 horsepower and up to 1,700 lb.-ft. of torque. 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, ID, 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, MT, Knievel’s birthplace, before visiting the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Aug. 3-9 in Sturgis, SD.