The Wall Of Death

10 Mar

Wall Of Death Rider

In the early 1900s, vehicles were beginning to achieve speeds that would allow them to defy gravitational forces, and, by the ’30s, exhibitions known as “walls of death” were becoming increasingly popular.

Like any entertainment that sees a market over-saturation, the drivers began to feel a need to push the limits of the sport – as such, they moved to the next logical step: introducing lions into the process.

With over a hundred walls of death traveling the US by the 1930s, perhaps the coolest version was the ‘Liondrome’ in which a rider is accompanied by a tamed lion.

Wall Of Death - Lion Sidecar

Over the years, animal abuse laws, and simple repetition, have caused the practice to dwindle. However, you can still find the act, without the giant-cat, being performed in rural county fairs, and other locations where life is cheap.

Indian stuntman rides the Wall Of Death


8 Responses to “The Wall Of Death”

  1. Jeff March 10, 2011 at 13:11 #

    The last time I saw the Ringling Brothers Circus (2004, maybe?) they featured motorcyclists racing around each other in a metal mesh sphere. Loud and frightening, with the potential for death and disaster. Way cool.

    • JRD Skinner March 10, 2011 at 13:31 #

      The sphere of death! A classic, and directly related to the Wall Of Death.

      It’s a lot more common these days than the Wall – I suspect because of its portability.

    • bmj2k March 10, 2011 at 13:31 #

      I saw that too. Would it have been any better if they threw in a few dizzy lions? Isn’t it deadly enough without traumatizing the poor cat? Should they strap a lion into the passenger seat next to Jeff Gordon in his next NASCAR race? Should a bungee jumper have a lion tied to his chest? What was the point of the Liondrome?

      • JRD Skinner March 10, 2011 at 13:33 #

        I can’t answer to the point of the Lion-drome, but yes, every one of your other suggestions sounds FANTASTIC.

        Tell me there isn’t a Disney movie in a lion that has what it takes to win at NASCAR, with the help of his tough, but lovable, driver\caretaker.

        • Jessica May March 10, 2011 at 14:26 #

          I’d like the see an untamed lion trying to catch a snack mid spin. But that just may be me. :p

          • bmj2k March 10, 2011 at 20:01 #

            Put a lion in the lionsphere and toss in a few trainers and I’d root for the lion too.

            My brother has a theory about those stories where you see a cow has escaped from the farm or some animal jumps a fence and gets away from where it has been kept. He says the animal has won. It has outsmarted whoever was keeping it and it should now be allowed to be set free.

            • JRD Skinner March 10, 2011 at 21:03 #

              I think your brother is absolutely right, frankly.

  2. bmj2k March 10, 2011 at 22:00 #

    I say he’s on the right track but not there yet. The animal isn’t out of the woods yet because he’s off the farm and on the freeway. He still has to make it back home.

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