Evel Knievel and a Norton P-11

Reader Contribution by Mc Staff
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Reader Al Tellis and his 1967 Ducati Bronco 125, which he restored himself about 2 years ago.

In the mid 1960s, I worked as a mechanic at Salem’s Motorcycle Headquarters in Phoenix, Ariz. We were a Zundapp, Ducati, Sachs and Norton dealer and were supplied by ZDS Motors’ Bob Blair. I knew Mr. Blair through our shop and I talked with him several times, both at our shop in Phoenix and at his business in California. 

Our shop had built and raced a very fast 250 Ducati, dubbed the “Peppermint Stick.” It was very successful on the race tracks in Phoenix and Tucson, even beating Jim Hunter on his BSA Gold Star at a Sweepstakes race in Tucson. Bob helped and encouraged us with that endeavor. He saw our work and professionalism and asked us to build a mini-bike for his son, Steve. He sent us a new Ducati Bronco as a starting place. We modified it to fit Steve and it turned out really cool.

When the P-11 first came out, I bought one immediately and enjoyed the ride all the time I had it. In 1966/1967, Mr. Blair sent us a new Norton P-11 to prepare for an up-and-coming daredevil named Evel Knievel. One evening after working on Evel’s bike we were just getting ready to head to the local pub, the Red Door, and I asked Evel if he wanted to join us for a drink. He asked me directions on how to get there, and I told him to go west on Indian School Road to Seventh Avenue, then turn right and cross the bridge over the canal, and the pub would be on the left. All he said was, “How wide is the canal?” He never showed up that night.

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