Later he moseys
into the Blue Lakes Inn cocktail lounge for a nightcap or three. In attendance
are Bob Arum, president of Top Rank, Inc., which is orchestrating the whole
show and claims to have paid Evel $6 million up front for a share of the
action, and a few of Arum's aides. Evel is in a combative mood. He chides Arum
for wearing a red and white seersucker suit—"Who do you think you are, the
Great Gatsby?"—and wonders aloud why he ever signed on anyone to help in
promotion of the jump.
says, "I'm better than P. T. Barnum and Colonel Parker put together."
Nobody denies it.
A couple of his
Butte buddies join the party. These are the men who built Evel's launch ramp
and he welcomes them heartily—Coors all around.
"Hell, I don't
need nobody," he continues. "Certainly don't need no smart Harvard
lawyers. Hey, Ralph, remember that big old Euclid I used to drive up at the
Anaconda mine? One day they dropped about a six-ton rock in the back of that
Yuke, and when I took off I popped a wheelie. The front of the Yuke hit a
4,800-volt power line overhead and blacked out all of Butte. Hell, it blacked
out the whole county. The foreman tells me I'm fired, so what'd I do? I went
and picked up my pay and then I drove the Yuke on down to the foreman's little
hut and I dumped 17 cubic yards of dirt on it. Got on my motorsickle and roared
on out of there. I don't need nobody. Hell, maybe what I'll do now, I'll buy
Anaconda and fire that foreman. Like they always said: God made man, and the
Winchester made 'em equal!"
Arum leaps to his
feet, resplendent in his Gatsby suit, and begins singing a Harvard fight
By midafternoon of
the following day Evel is ready for the first public unveiling of the Sky-Cycle
X-2 at the jump site. The vehicle is already mounted at the base of the ramp,
dwarfed by the big sky overhead and the deep canyon below. Evel roars up in his
station wagon and dismounts. He is dressed all in black and he starts to run up
the 40-degree earthen ramp toward the Sky-Cycle. About halfway up he starts to
puff and wisely walks the rest of the way.
crane away from here," he yells to a workman. "Get them photographers
away till I call for them." He spies Wicked Ward standing guard at the
bottom of the ramp. "Wicked, you keep them civilians the hell away from
here. Chase 'em off if they try to get up."
paranoia? Evel has gotten extremely wary of late—"There are hundreds of
guys who want to know how this Sky-Cycle works, and if they find out, everyone
will be into the canyon-jumping game." So cautious has he become that he
registers at motels under aliases (Mr. Forbes and Mr. Rosenstein are two recent
noms d'espionnage); only the mention of a given code word, which is changed
week by week, will get a caller through to him by telephone. The press, which
once scorned Evel as a blow-hard, is now getting scorned in return as jump day
nears and the market for Evel stories rises.
The crane trundles
off and Evel retires to his van, emerging a few minutes later in his red, white
and blue leathers. He stalks up the ramp slowly this time, cane in hand, cape
flapping in the hot breeze, posturing for the cameras. Suddenly a car roars
onto the site and brakes to a halt in a cloud of dust. Out jumps Jim Welch,
president of Nabisco Confections, Inc. Welch, 43, a prematurely gray but
boyish-looking Bostonian, has paid Evel $100,000 for the right to put a decal
advertising Chuckles candy on the tail fin of the Sky-Cycle X-2 and a label on
Evel's helmet. He has been up all night and most of the day supervising the
proper preparation of the decals. Now he runs up the ramp, labels aflap, to get
them pasted on before the monumental picture-taking session begins.
Evel stares down
at the panting figure laboring up the slope toward him. "Hey," he
yells. "We're going to forget this label for now. It's too big."