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Would You Have the Balls to Take on the Wall of Death?

The Wall of Death is an adrenaline-junkie's dream—a gripping, precarious balancing act of motorcycles racing in rapid circles around the interior of a creaky wooden drum. In today's world, the act appears in touring side shows and carnivals across the US, India and Europe. The performances in India are particularly thrilling (mostly due to the seeming lack of safety regulation).

But the death-defying New Delhi boys shown above didn't invent this insane tradition. It was created in the old US of A, back in 1911. The following decades brought improvements to the quality and speed of the motorcycles, and the stunt's popularity peaked in the 1930s-1960s. The riders, evidently confident in their control of centrifugal force, began to bring automobiles, sidecars and even lions into the act.

For a brief visual history, check out these amazing photographs from the Wall of Death golden era, via The Selvedge Yard.

Circa 1914: Motordrome racer straddles an Excelsior motorcycle
Circa 1930s: Unidentified rider
Unidentified lion and female driver
“Fearless” Egbert of Collins Famous Death Riders & Racing Lion
“Fearless” Egbert takes his five year-old lion for a ride
Circa 1949, UK: Sixteen-year-old Maureen Swift riding with ‘Tornado’ Smith
Left: Cookie Ayers-Crum on her Indian Scout, Right: Maureen Swift, circa 1949

Insane. Which brings us back to the original question—would you have the balls to take on the Wall of Death?

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