Knievel hopes to try Ohio River jump

Daredevil Robbie Knievel told me Thursday he plans to motorcycle jump from Marietta to West Virginia this summer.

If Knievel, son of the late stunt performer Evel Knievel, carries out his plan, tentatively set for Aug. 17, it would be the first motorcycle jump from one state to another, Robbie said by telephone from Las Vegas. It also would be Knievel’s last motorcycle stunt in the United States, he said, although he still wants to jump over 16 buses at Wembley Stadium near London.

Marietta businessman Wei Sheng said he is bringing Knievel to the Mid-Ohio Valley to promote and raise money for Sheng’s Ohio Outdoor Heaven project in Washington County. Sheng is raising money to build an outdoor recreation and entertainment center on 102 acres he owns off Interstate 77, six miles north of Marietta at the Lower Salem exit.

Sheng envisions the adventure center, which he has designs for, having a covered amphitheater, lake, hiking and biking trails, Zip Line and a hotel. The project could cost $50 million, he said.

Knievel’s performance would include a pyrotechnics display. Knievel said it may work out that his daughter, Krysten, a rock singer living in Chicago, could perform in Marietta during his jump.

Knievel and his technical assistant are scheduled to arrive in Marietta in a few weeks to talk to Marietta city officials about finalizing details for the jump and investigating what is needed to pull it off.

Marietta Mayor Joe Matthews said details surrounding the event remain up in the air and the city law director will look at the jump contract. Matthews spoke with Knievel by phone about a month ago.

Marietta city funds will not be used for the event, Sheng said.

Sheng believes a ramp could be placed along the Ohio River at Second Street near the Levee House for Knievel’s motorcycle jump. He would land, hopefully, on barges moored in the Ohio River – on the West Virginia side of the river across from the Williamstown Boat Ramp.

When I asked Knievel about the type of motorcycle he would be using for the jump, he replied, “One you can’t ride. It is rocket powered, a one-of-a-kind Knievel bike.”

Knievel noted that at 51 years old, he has lasted longer in the daredevil arena than his famous father, who retired in 1975 at the age of 36. Knievel also said he can motorcycle jump twice as far as Evel could, because “I have a better bike.”

He has broken 20 bones and suffered a concussion, shoulder separation and torn ligaments during motorcycle stunts, Knievel said.

Knievel said his family has a strong fan base in Ohio. Robbie jumped over 24 Coke Zero trucks at Kings Island near Cincinnati in 2008. Evel jumped over 14 buses at Kings Island in 1975.

Robbie jumped across the Grand Canyon in 1999. He said one of his most difficult motorcycle jumps was between two 16-story Jockey Club towers – a distance of 130 feet – in Las Vegas in 1999.

He has not jumped in 1 1/2 years, he said. “The Ohio deal sounded interesting, cool,” Knievel said.

The Knievels have dedicated their shows to the U.S. troops, Robbie said. He said they also support programs that help children and law enforcement agencies.

“It would be a last hurrah for Knievel,” Sheng said.

“I am looking forward to it,” Knievel said.

Contact Paul LaPann at plapann@newsandsentinel.com