The Wall of Death Carnival Motordromes

Author: David Gaylin
Publisher: Arcadia Publishing
ISBN: 9781467127066
Release Date: 2017
Genre: History

In 1911, the operators of Coney Island's Luna Park premiered a miniature, radically banked racetrack for staged automobile races that seemed to defy gravity. For a fee, patrons would watch from the perimeter of the 85-foot wooden saucer as daredevil drivers raced on the steep angle of the tiny track. The attraction created a sensation and was quickly copied with a show that featured motorcycle riders performing breathtaking stunts. When portable versions were made available, every traveling carnival owner in the United States rushed to have one. Motordromes with perfectly vertical walls soon followed, which permitted riders on their Indian motorcycles to climb, sometimes to a height of 20 feet, with nothing but centrifugal force between them and a trip to the trauma ward. And when full-grown lions were added to pursue riders in the arena, no one could resist buying a ticket! The "Wall of Death," a name these shows received in 1917, remained a staple attraction on American carnival midways until the 1970s.