Like father, like son. That was the promotional tagline for one of the biggest events in Kings Island's history that took place on this day in 2008 when daredevil Robbie (Kaptain) Knievel successfully jumped his motorcycle over 24 Coke Zero delivery trucks in the park’s parking lot, the site of one of his father’s most famous stunts.
Dedicating the jump to his father and with thousands of Kings Island guests and news media gathered around the jump site, Knievel, traveling at 95 mph on his motorcycle, hit the three-story tall ramp for the 200-foot long jump, which was completed with theatrical explosion effects and shooting flames. It was quite the spectacle!
As Kings Island's PR person, I spent every day with Knievel the two weeks leading up to to the jump, escorting him to TV and radio appearances throughout the Tristate. He was an interesting character. However, behind the character was a complicated person. Growing up the son of a folk hero with worldwide fame as the quintessential daredevil performer wasn't easy and from a very young age had been determined to make his own mark.
I got the sense he was a lot more nervous about the Kings Island jump than he let on during interviews or in conversations with park officials. It was was the longest jump he had ever attempted by about 60 feet. But was he ever excited when he made it! He knew his father would have been proud.
Knievel's father, the late Evel Knievel, successfully jumped over 14 Greyhound buses at Kings Island in 1975. The jump was broadcast live on ABC’s Wide World of Sports and drew the highest ratings in the show’s history with a 22.3 rating and 52 percent share, which meant that over half the nation’s television audience watched. He died in 2007 at the age of 69 after suffering from failing health for years with diabetes and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable lung condition.
Photo: Ronny Salerno / www.ronnysalerno.com
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