Robbie Knievel Completed The One Stunt Evel Was Not Permitted To Do

It's largely fallen out of favor these days, but there was a time in the 1970s and 1980s when the genre of men (and sometimes women) performing elaborate, televised stunts was all the rage. No Friday night prime-time would be complete without someone jumping their motorcycle or souped-up production car over some obstacle — a river, a row of parked school buses, etc. And no stuntman from that era was bigger than Evel Knievel. He passed away in 2007 at the age of 69, as ESPN reported at the time.

Though Evel Knievel died a decade and a half ago, his son, Robbie Knievel (above), carried his father's torch as a stunt-performing daredevil, albeit for a much smaller audience than that of his father. Unfortunately, Robbie passed away on January 13, 2023, also at a comparatively young age — 60 — as TMZ reports. Though his star was extinguished early, he did manage to perform one stunt that had eluded his father for his entire career: He jumped the Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon Eludes Evel Knievel

During his decades-long career, Evel Knievel jumped over just about everything that he could get the permits to jump over. As Sky History reports, he started small, jumping over live snakes and parked pickup trucks for his touring daredevil show. As he got bigger, so did his jumps, and eventually, he was taking on things like rows of parked London buses or the fountains at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. He also tried his hand at jumping natural formations, including a failed attempt at the quarter-mile-wide Snake River Canyon in Idaho. That left him with a broken nose, as Visit South Idaho reports.

However, the Big Daddy of stunt jumps eluded him: the Grand Canyon, or more specifically, the narrowest part of the Grand Canyon, a 200-foot-wide section above the Hualapai Indian Reservation (per the Los Angeles Times). "I don't care if they say, 'Look, kid, you're going to drive that thing off the edge of the Canyon and die,' I'm going to do it. I want to be the first," he said (via Sports Illustrated). Unfortunately, as The Guardian reports, he was never able to secure the necessary permits.

Robbie Knievel Pulls It Off

Robbie Knievel was able to succeed where his father had failed. On May 20, 1999, as the Los Angeles Times reports, Knievel was able to complete a jump across the Grand Canyon, the National Park Service having presumably changed their tune about issuing permits for this type of thing.

The stakes were impossibly high: had he failed to clear the canyon, it would have been a 2,500-foot fall to the riverbed below. Clearing the gap would have been no guarantee of success, however, as if he'd landed in the wrong spot, or his motorcycle had been at the wrong angle or had he been going too fast or too slow, it could have ended in catastrophe.

Not only did he successfully complete the jump, but in the process he broke his own distance record. He did, however, wobble and fall when he landed, and he was taken to an area hospital as a precaution. The stunt can be seen here (via YouTube).