Saturday, May 18, 2019

Evel Knievel's Closed-Circuit Snake River Canyon Jump: A Ringley & Crockett Promotion

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
On September 8, 1974, legendary daredevil Evel Knievel attempted to jump the Snake River Canyon in Twin Falls County, Idaho, in a self-designed rocket. As a 13 year old kid, this was a seminal moment in my childhood. I had just started getting interested in wrestling, and I always thought Evel Knievel would have made a great pro wrestler. Or maybe a a great pro wrestling manager. Either way, Evel could give as good a promo as anyone in pro wrestling.

I was already a huge Knievel fan, eagerly anticipating his next motorcycle jump over cars or buses that would regularly be televised on ABC's Wide World of Sports. I knew he had aspirations of one day jumping the Grand Canyon. This was apparently to be a warm-up to that bigger feat. Or perhaps the National Park Service had no interest in him attempting something like that at the Grand Canyon. Regardless, I was seriously into the hype surrounding the Snake River jump, even if it was the semi-final to some future main event.

The event drew national attention and was promoted on pay-per-view around the country. The Knievel organization established partnerships with local promoters, one of which was Ringley & Crockett, Inc. in Charlotte.

Ringley & Crockett, Inc. was the non-wrestling arm of Jim Crockett Promotions, run by Jim Crockett, Sr.'s son-in-law John Ringley until the end of 1974. Ringley promoted rock concerts, Harlem Globetrotters basketball, fishing tournaments, and all sorts of other events. They were also the promoters for the Evel Knievel Snake River Canyon jump to be telecast on giant-screen closed-circuit television at the Charlotte Coliseum on Independence Blvd., also the home of many big Mid-Atlantic Wrestling events in the Queen City. 

Sadly, the jump failed. A good description of what happened, as well as info on the jump-site (where Evel's dirt take-off ramp still stands as a tourist attraction), can be found on a favorite website of mine, An except:

With much media fanfare, daredevil Evel Knievel tried and failed to leap the mile-wide chasm of the Snake River Canyon on his specially engineered rocket motorcycle. His drogue parachute malfunctioned and opened on take-off. Evel and his contraption floated to the bottom of the canyon, landing on the riverbank directly below his launch ramp (If he'd gone into the river, his safety harness probably would have drowned him). It was a less-than-auspicious milestone for Evel and the city of Twin Falls, but Evel's fans loved him for at least trying.

Where I grew up, the closest closed-circuit location for the jump was in Johnson City, TN, and despite my ongoing pleading, my father had no interest in paying to see Evel Knievel climb into a rocket. 

Carroll Hall at the All Star Championship Wrestling website came across the clipping and forwarded it here. It was nice to discover the Crockett connection to this event after all these years.

For more on Evel Knievel, visit