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Evel Knievel, the death-defying daredevil, made his most successful motorcycle jump on this day 45 years ago, October 25, 1975, at Kings Island.
The jump took place on a cold, drizzly day in the Kings Island parking lot in front of 25,000 spectators – 20,000 having bought the combo park and jump tickets while 5,000 had purchased the jump-only option – and was broadcast live on ABC’s Wide World of Sports. The event 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.
Reaching a speed of 95 mph as he took off from the starting ramp, Knievel sailed 133 in the air on his Harley-Davidson XR-750 before hitting the 14th bus as he landed, nearly breaking his bike in half. However, he was able to successfully complete the longest jump of his career with a world record for distance that remained unbroken for 24 years.
It was the last big jump of Knievel’s legendary career, and one of his most notable while also ranking as the most attention-grabbing moment in Kings Island’s history.
This aerial view shows the location of the arena for Evel Knievel’s 14-bus motorcycle jump in the Kings Island parking lot. It was the largest temporary arena built in the United States, covering 13 acres.