Thursday, January 14, 2010

Wall of Death....

The Wall Of Death or motodrome is a carnival sideshow featuring a drum or barrel-shaped wooden cylinder, ranging from 20 to 36-feet in diameter, in which stunt motorcyclists ride and carry out tricks. Derived directly from US motorcycle boardtrack (motordrome) racing in the early 1900s, the very first carnival motordrome appeared at Coney Island amusement park in 1911.

The following year portable tracks began to appear on traveling carnivals and in 1915, the first "silodromes" with perpendicular walls were seen. These motordromes with perfectly straight walls were soon dubbed the "Wall of Death." The first known Wall of Death in the UK appeared in 1929 at Southend.

This carnival attraction became a staple in the US outdoor entertainment industry with the phenomenon reaching its zenith in the 1930s with more than 100 motordromes on traveling shows and in amusement parks.

The audience views from the top of the drum, looking down. The riders start at the bottom of the drum, in the center, and ascend an initial ramped section until they gain enough velocity to drive horizontally to the floor, usually in a counter-clockwise direction.

In the 2000s, there remain only a few tours of the wall of death. We got to see one in person last year at the Barber Vintage show, and it is still amazing 99 years later

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