The American Wall of Death Thrill Show


Hell Riders, Motor Maniacs, Thrills, Chills and Spills…This is one heck of a carnival-style biker ride!

Imagine if you will…trick riding around the country riding in a wooden silo drome, 30-feet wide, back in the early 1900s.

My research indicates that the very first Wall of Death style riders appeared in the 1911 Coney Island Carnival. The first mention of the name, “Wall of Death”, appeared in the local press around Buffalo, New York in 1915. These barrel-shaped wooden cylinders were also call “silodromes” or “motordromes”.

They averaged 30 feet in diameter and were all made of wooden planks where brave and talented motorcycle riders rode motorcycles up and down vertical wooden-board walls. The riders performed stunts while riding bravely using centrifugal force to their advantage.

The Wall of Death motordrome shows…fun!

I rode in to see the southern California Thrill Show in El Cajon, California on Saturday, September 17th. Hosted by the Motoworld & IndianVictory Dealerships, the show featured the daredevil riders of the American Wall of Death, numerous vendors and a good local rock & roll band…all in support of our Veterans and the USO.

The Team of Professional Riders.

The Wall of Death Riders...Travelin' Hobo Bill, Reckless Rita and Daredevil Charley Ransom.

The Wall of Death Riders…L to R – Travelin’ Hobo Bill, Reckless Rita and Daredevil Charley Ransom.


The motorcycle of choice for these brave daredevil riders.

1930s Era Indian Scout…great little motorbike in the day.


Round and Round They Go!



Motordromes are made of wooden planks, inside which riders and/or drivers of go-carts, travel up and down the vertical wall at thrilling high speeds and perform hair-raising stunts. It is truly a sight to see. Riders are held in place by centrigugal force but man, you can easily imagine them miscalculating a turn and flying off into the audience or coming down crashing to the plank floor below.


Charley Ransom…This guy rules the wooden silo…total riding pro! Click image for his Facebook Page.


Living his passion…Thrill Ride Owner, Jay Lightnin’

Motordromes were popular in the traveling Circus Shows and Carnivals between 1910 and 1950. It is so interesting to me to have these old style entertainment shows being kept alive by passionate motorcycle enthusiasts like Jay Lightnin’.

Here we are, 100 years later and a new generation of techies can see and feel what real, live and thrilling excitement was really like back in the day.

Old-style classic motorcycles are still the ride of choice for these trick riders. Jay has an amazing collection of vintage rides that he exhibits in his shows.


The Wall of Death carnival attraction was very popular in the outdoor entertainment industry with the phenomenon reaching its peak in the 1930s and 1940s. According to Wikipedia, there were over 100 motordromes on traveling shows and in amusement parks during the period.

Thank you for what you do keeping the Wall of Death Show going Jay.



My Bottom Line…

The Wall of Death Riders…they got balls! Yes, the girl riders too…guts of bravery to spare as they navigate the wooden planks in a whirl of speed doing all they can to defy sure injury and death.



The USO organization does great work for our Veterans.The organization provides programs, entertainment and services at more than 180 USO locations worldwide, including Afghanistan, Djibouti, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Germany, Italy, Japan, Iraq, South Korea and the United States. I want to thank the USO for all they do for our Veterans and their families.


poster-packedhouse-elcajonIf you get the chance, make sure to see the Wall of Death riders in action. They do between 18 and 25 shows annually so note when they come to a town near you. Click the following link to contact Southern California’s Thrill Riders…they perform all over the USA.


I also want to thank the owners and employees of the Indian, Victory and Motoworld Motorcycle Dealerships in El Cajon, CA for hosting this event for the benefit of our Military Heroes. Good job!




Ride Safe Out There.


Ndn Dave Frey and Me at the USO Benefit. Dave and his Veterans Charity had a vendor’s booth at the show.















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  1. Greena H. says:

    Hello. remarkable job on this blog. Cool story. Brave riders. Thanks!

  2. Hoppie C. says:

    Really like your website. Amazing riders at the Wall of Death. Good article. You are wonderful! Thanks!

  3. Patrick H. says:

    Great weblog here! Thank you for these pictures. I have not seen the Wall of Death live but will do so when they come to the northeast. Thank you for your blog.

    Hi Patrick…the Wall of Death trick riders blow my mind. They are brave souls! Dedicated to this old school sport. Ride Safe Out There.

    Motorcycle Marc