Top Gear’s Richard Hammond Meets Evel Knievel

Sunday 23rd December 2007

Top Gear’s Richard Hammond Meets Evel Knievel. Evel died not long before this program was telecast, it was part of ‘Top Gear Night’ on Britain’s BBC2. Hammond travelled to America and arranged to meet the world famous daredevil, and one of his childhood heroes, Evel Knievel. They talked about Knievel’s career, family, dreams, fears, crashes and his wild daredevil lifestyle. The program also showed archival jump footage, photos and news articles, all showing not only how famous he became, but also other little known elements to his personality.Hammond also conducted interviews with Knievel’s former bodyguard Gene Sullivan, former daredevil Debbie Lawler and his former publicist Shelly Saltman, who was assaulted by Knievel in 1977, an attack which destroyed Evel’s reputation and eventually caused him to declare himself bankrupt. On the final day of filming, Evel asked Hammond to go and view his tombstone which he had paid for himself. Sadly though, the viewer can see that Knievel’s health was deteriorating, a few times as Hammond was preparing to engage him he was taken away in need of medical attention. “You can’t ask a guy like me why I performed. I really wanted to fly through the air. I was a daredevil, a performer. I loved the thrill, the money, the whole macho thing. All those things made me Evel Knievel. Sure, I was scared. You gotta be an ass not to be scared. But it sure beat the hell out of death.”

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