It was 1975, and the kamikaze king of motorcycle stunts had gone to England to hurtle over 13 single-decker London transport buses at Wembley Stadium. In previous jumps, Knievel's blowhard machismo had carried him over half-a-zillion trucks, cars and buses neatly set out in rows of eight, 10 and 12. Now he was about to kick start a European tour that, depending on his Montana Mary intake at the time he was speaking, would include leaps over the Thames, the English Channel and the Berlin Wall.
On this afternoon 60,000 Evel worshippers assembled for a chance to see Knievel become at one with the Wembley sod. He gestured to them graciously, revved the engine of his 750 Harley and roared down a 380-foot ski jump. He cleared the first 12 buses like an eagle, but hit the 13th like a shot duck. Toppling over handlebars of the bike, he smeared himself over the landing ramp and landed in Whitechapel Hospital. When his stats were totaled, he had a couple of compressed vertebrae, two broken fingers and a hairline fracture of the pelvis. "I will never jump again," he said after struggling to a microphone.
MR. SMITH GOES TO MIAMI
Paul Smith remembers the days when bus drivers wheeled around in puttees and Sam Browne belts. He retired from the Central Texas Bus Lines in 1973 after 27 years of service. Only Morganna has bussed more athletes. "No bragging," he says, "but I guess I've driven as many athletic teams on buses as anyone in the state of Texas, probably as many as anyone in most states of the Union."
Smith drove the Baylor band from Waco to Miami for the 1952 Orange Bowl. On the way home, Smith's five-bus caravan stopped in Tallahassee, where the band director, Donald Moore, lectured the students in each bus. "Look, I'm tired of waiting for you kids every time we make a stop," said Moore. "These buses are going to leave at one o'clock sharp. If you're not on one, you can walk home or find another way back."
At one o'clock, Smith asked Moore if he was ready.
"Let 'em roll," Moore said.
It wasn't long before a kid in the back yelled, "Mr. Moore, we're one short."
"I can't help it. I warned you kids, and I wasn't kidding."
"But sir, the one missing is your wife."