Robbie Knievel, Son Of Evel, Finds A Haven -- Motorcycle Jumper Deals With Alcoholism, Relationship With Dad

SEQUIM, Clallam County - He's broken all his famous father's records and has a measure of fame himself. He's found some peace in religion and in this Olympic Peninsula town.

But Robbie Knievel is still working on his demons, including alcohol and the love-hate relationship he has with his dad, motorcycle-stunt icon Evel Knievel.

Despite having a daredevil career of making spectacular jumps that don't always end successfully, the younger Knievel, 34, has made a quiet life for himself since moving here two years ago.

"I've lived just about everywhere, from big cities to little towns, so I knew what I was looking for," Knievel said.

"I found it here. It has all the beauty, it is quiet and people let me be. I hope some day to be buried here."

Knievel also is looking forward to the years ahead.

"There was a point a few years ago where nobody wanted to bring their kids to see performers doing stunts," Knievel said. "The business got sleazy. Who were these guys performing? They weren't role models, they didn't represent anything.

"It is coming back around," he said. "The crowds are coming back with their children. Dads who watched Evel as a child are now bringing their sons to see me. It makes me feel very good."

Still, love and hate mingle when Robbie discusses his now-retired dad.

Robbie says the elder Knievel was a great dad, even though Evel once kicked him in the face and broke his nose when the then-teenager screamed an obscenity at his father.

For his part, Evel once recalled in a magazine interview about asking his four young children if they loved him. Three of them would obediently answer yes. Robbie would hesitate - and then say "no."

Growing up in the hard-drinking-miner town of Butte, Mont., in the early 1960s, Knievel recalls his dad supplying him and his brother with booze at an early age.

"Back then, dads letting their sons drink didn't even raise much of an eyebrow," the younger Knievel said.

The elder Knievel was legendary for his drinking escapades and the younger Knievel followed, first as a rebellious teenager and later as an adult.

The conflicting emotions about his dad caused him pain, which he said he numbed with liquor and later drugs.

Knievel turned to religion a few years ago, and he tried to work a program that kept him on the straight and narrow.

For the most part, he said it works. When he falls off the wagon, he said, he gets right back on.

"I don't make excuses. I just try to do better next time," Knievel said. "We're recovering from alcohol, but we're all recovering from something in the past.

"I believe in Jesus Christ, but do I walk and talk like him? No," he answered. "I don't judge people that way, and I am not perfect. But I am working to be the best person I can be."

Divorced with a 10-year-old daughter living in Chicago, Knievel is facing some decisions about his life. He said he probably has three or four more years of jumping before getting out of the business.

He said he hopes to keep working in the field he knows so well, and retire a winner in his own right.

While he remains close to his mother, Linda, who lives in Butte, Knievel said he and his father no longer speak.

Knievel said that while he knows his dad is proud of him, he also thinks Evel is envious of him because he is jumping higher and farther.