Buddy Stubbs is a legendary television and movie stuntman, a former Daytona winning racer, and a successful Harley-Davidson dealer. I recently spent an afternoon talking with Buddy and perusing his amazing collection of iconic motorcycles at his dealership in Phoenix, Arizona. A full article on Buddy and his classic collection will appear in an upcoming in All About Bikes Magazine. However, I am going to give you a look as some of the more intriguing motorcycles in Mr. Stubbs’ collection.
We will start this series with a spotlight on the closest thing we’ll ever see to the Triumph that Evel Knievel destroyed in his fateful attempt to leap the fountains at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas.
Let’s start with the backstory. Buddy became close friends with Knievel in the 1950s and 1960s when both were active racers. Stubbs said that he and Knievel often went head-to-head in races around the country. Interestingly, Stubbs related that Knievel was only a mediocre racer who, “seldom made it to the main event.” However, Stubbs said that that early racing experience, along with Knievel’s fearlessness and larger-than-life personality combined to make him the greatest motorcycle showman of all time.
On to the story. Along with the rest of the nation, Buddy watched his friend attempt a New Year’s Eve jump over the fountains of Caesars Palace in 1967. The stunt, which was filmed by ABC Sports, ended with a failed landing that sent Knievel into a coma for 29 days (see the video below). The Triumph that Knievel was riding ended up in a twisted heap of burned metal.
Years after the Caesars Palace jump, Knievel was visiting his friend Buddy at his Harley dealership in Phoenix. Knievel spotted a Triumph 650 Bonneville like the one he jumped in Las Vegas. At that point he asked Buddy how much he wanted for the bike. Knievel’s desire was to build an exact replica of the bike that was destroyed at Caesars Palace. Stubbs told Knievel that he had no interest in selling the bike.
However, Buddy related, “Evel was a man with a forceful personality who didn’t like to take ‘no’ for an answer.” After more discussion, Buddy told Knievel that he could borrow the bike and do what he wanted with it, on the condition that he gave it back some day.
The bike you see in the picture is that replica of the destroyed Palace jump bike. What makes it so unique is that it is a project completed by Knievel himself. The bike he borrowed from Stubbs formed the framework for Knievel’s recreation. It spent years in Knievel’s own collection.
How that bike came back into Buddy’s collection adds a powerful endnote to the story. Buddy received a call from Knievel in November of 2007. Evel told Buddy that he was not going to show his collection of bikes anymore and he wanted to return the Triumph. Two days after the Triumph was back in Buddy’s possession, his friend Evel died.
For more information on Buddy Stubbs’ dealership and classic collection, visit http://www.buddystubbshd.com/.
Courtesy of AllAboutBikes.com