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The 2 x MOST INSANE VIDEOS you will ever see: The Wall of Death.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

If you’ve never heard of “The Wall of Death” before, you’re in for a bit of a treat.

The motordrome (also called “The Well of Death” in India) had its rise in the 1920s and 30s in the UK, India and the States, and a few even continue on to this day at carnivals and fairs around the world. The Wall of Death is a motordrome - a barrel-shaped wooden structure around 8m in diameter. Inside the drome, drivers put their nerves and a variety of vehicles to the test – including motorcycles, mini automobiles, side cars and regular small cars. Drivers would skilfully speed around the vertical wall and perform remarkable stunts… simply held in place by centrifugal force…pretty insane stuff back then.

The audience stood at the top of the structure, looking down. Sometimes there were multiple viewing platforms to squeeze more punters in (aka Mad Max Thunderdome). The riders and drivers started at the base and ascended an initial ramped section until they gain enough speed to drive horizontally to the floor, usually in a counter-clockwise direction in a banked continuous turn.  

Some of the dromes were very dodgy - many of the carnival/fair dromes in India had wooden panels missing, broken and cracked, making the stunts done on motorcycles even more dangerous. Shudder to think what would happen to the front wheel of the bike if it got caught in one of these busted panels

Compared to the safety of stunts performed these days, the circus feats of the 1920s were pretty hairy… now if as if the Wall of Death didn’t provide enough adrenaline and entertainment for audiences already, the 1930’s truly outdid itself in crazy death defying acts.

Performers began introducing lions – yes, you read correctly, L.I.O.N.S – into the wall of death as an additional way to sell out their shows. Lions would ride in the side-car of the vehicle just centimetres away from the driver whilst they drove around and around the wall of death at high speed. The insanity of this idea is unthinkable with todays OH&S laws, but it was an easy connection for the circus acts to make. They already had the lions, they already had the drivers and the wall of death… hey, lets put them together! Madness makes money, apparently.

But it was extremely entertaining and thrilled the audiences. Drivers became mini celebrities, and women were given an opportunity to shine. Women like Ethel Purtle and Marjorie Kemp became big names in the industry, While the men continued to dominate, there was certainly some huge marketability surrounding the concept. And, to their total credit, these women showed courage, backbone and genuine skill.

So next time you are at work whinging about your job, spare a thought for these guys and girls who had some of the riskiest jobs on earth… all for entertainment.

Anyone else wanna see Whincup ride side-car with a lion?!

Now for that insane video # 1: Here's 4 minutes you'll want to share!

and just for good measure - here's one with the lions:

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