Knievel was inducted into the Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1999. Robert and Ann divorced in 1940, after the 1939 birth of their second child, Nicolas, known as Nic. Knievel and his brother were raised in Butte by their paternal grandparents, Ignatius and Emma Knievel.
At the age of eight, Knievel attended a Joie Chitwood auto daredevil show, to which he gave credit for his later career choice as a motorcycle daredevil.
Knofel was well known as "Awful Knofel" ("awful" rhyming with "Knofel"), so Knievel began to be referred to as "Evel Knievel" ("Evel" rhyming with "Knievel").
He chose this misspelling for his first name because he didn't want to be considered "evil".
After a police chase in 1956, in which he crashed his motorcycle, Knievel was taken to jail on a charge of reckless driving.
When the night jailer came around to check the roll, he noted Knievel in one cell and a man named William Knofel in the other.
Knievel was a cousin of the former Democratic Congressman from Montana, Pat Williams (b. Knievel left Butte High School after his sophomore year and got a job in the copper mines as a diamond drill operator with the Anaconda Mining Company, but he preferred motorbiking to what he called "unimportant stuff".
Over the course of his career, he attempted more than 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps; in 1974, he failed an attempted canyon jump across Snake River Canyon in the Skycycle X-2, a steam-powered rocket.
Using the hunting and fishing skills taught to him by his grandfather, Knievel started the Sur-Kill Guide Service.
He guaranteed that if a hunter employed his service and paid his fee, he would get the big game animal desired or Knievel would refund his fee.
Shortly after getting married, Knievel started the Butte Bombers, a semi-pro hockey team.
To help promote his team and earn some money, he convinced the Czechoslovakian Olympic ice hockey team to play the Butte Bombers in a warm-up game to the 1960 Winter Olympics (to be held in California).
Knievel was fired when he made the earth mover do a motorcycle-type wheelie and drove it into Butte's main power line, leaving the city without electricity for several hours.