Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame

The Pelaquin Family

History of the Wall of Death in Britain

Cool Stuff about Girl Riders
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Quiz #103 Results
Quiz #103
April 1, 2007
What sign of the zodiac is the passenger?
Used with the permission of Joe Bott,
Answer:  Leo the Lion
ROFL (Roaring on the Floor Laughing)
We have some real addicts among
our Quizmasters!  Only a few of you
realized that this quiz was a
from our usual routine.  Quizmaster
Extraordinaire Judy Pfaff said it the

I too take
paws and a small pride
(only 1 lion) in at least suggesting
that it might be an April Fool’s Day
joke.  And, now too will ROFL.  
These quizzes are very interesting
undertakings. Take
The Original Newark Boardwalk Track
American Racer 1900-1939 by Stephen Wright
First the Motordrome
Links for Further Reading
Seriously though......
Congratulations to Our Winners!
Comments from Our Readers
Leo...second question should have the lady next to the lion nuts?
Rick Mackinny

Oh, you jester you!  Thanks for the respite from the usual brain drain. We did need a
paws! Love ya!   
                                                                                Suzan Farris

..........hahahahaha   That was a real "gotcha"                                             Edee Scott

Is this the paws that refreshes?   You wouldn't be lion to me, would you?  That would
be really ruff..    
                                                                                  Mary Fraser

He is most definately a "Leo".  Happy April Fools Day (late).                    Dawn Carlile

That's easy - being a fellow "Leo" - hear us roar - ha,ha!!                       Elaine Hebert

Why he is a "Leo" just like me !                                                              Anna Farris

Either this is way too easy or I am missing something completely. I do realize that it is
April Fool's Day.                                                                              
Sharon Martin

After reading about all the trials and tribulations of being an actual lion tamer, these
performers must be truly insane to get into a cage with these animals and whiz about
like the descriptions and photos portray.  I have had one up close event with a cheetah
( and will not willingly repeat that again
with any wild beast.                                                                                
Judy Pfaff
Judy Pfaff                William Dalton
Suzan Farris                Edee Scott
Kymberly Winkler                Wayne Douglas
Mary Fraser                Peter Bins
Suzan Farris                Elaine Hebert
Patty Kaliher                Fred Stuart
Debbie Sterbinsky                Linda LaValley
Dawn Carlile                William Hughes
Jinny Collins                Judy Bethea
Kelly Fetherlin                Linda Williams
Bobbie Sims                M. L. Wilser
Alice Farris                Dorothy Oksner
Betty Ware                Bill Hurley
Margaret English                Rick Mackinney
Robert Dusse                Sharon Martin
Kelly Fetherlin                Bill Utterback
Delores Martin                Grace Hertz
Emily Aulicino                Judy Farris
Motor dromes have been around
since the early 1900s. They were
the natural evolution of the wooden
board track motordromes (1 mi.,
1&1/2 mi., etc.).  They kept
increasing the angle of the wall
(making them more steep until they
reached 68 degrees!), which in turn
increased the number of serious
accidents. There had even been a
track where the racing was
advertised as, “Racing Neck &
Neck with Death”! This led to the
more familiar name, “wall of
death”. After a number of accidents
in which many riders were killed or
injured, and an accident in which
not only some riders, but several
spectators were killed, it was
decided due to public outcry that
the sport of boardwall racing had
gotten too dangerous... and it
ended. There were already some
smaller, portable dromes in
operation - but they were more like
bowls than walls. The new ones
that these riders flooded America
with in this aftermath were 90
degrees straight up and down. In
the first old pics, you can clearly
see some of the same track riders
with their bikes and trademark gear!
The wall of death made its first appearance in
Britain in the early 1920's, the idea being
conceived from boardtrack racing which was
very popular in America at the time. By the
1930's there were quite a few Walls in
permanent amusement parks and travelling the
fairgrounds up and down the country.

Right from the beginning Indian Motorcycles
were found to be ideal for the job, being reliable
and sturdy with handling capabilities superior to
most other machines of the day.

When Motor Dromes were at their peak, there
were shows which included Lion acts along
with the motorcycles and machines that went
up on the wall! Some lion rode in sidecars,
some on side platforms, others rode in
converted cars with their drivers or on the
motorcycles themselves! In the U.S. the
Pelaquins, the Hawthornes, the Kemps, the
Purtles - these were some of the marvelous
families who owned, operated and performed in
these shows.

Ethel & Earl Purtle were two of the most
successful Lion Drome operators in the
business. They raised and trained their own cats
just as the Pelaquins did. Ethel was one of a
breed of brave & beautiful women who
performed in the Dromes with the big cats.
Then the Wall of Death and the Liondrome
LA Motordrome
How to Order
Stephen Wright's
American Racer
Click here to read
interview with
Sam Morgan Storm
Motordrome Girl
About Sam
More about Sam...
Ethel Pirtle and King
Link to liondromes....
Popular Mechanics Article, 1930
Link to liondromes....
Motordrome Picture
Magazine Cover
Article Iris Stewart
Comparing the old boardwalk-style drome with the modern 90 deg wall drome.
Read Sam Morgan
Storm's amazing
biography and about
the crash that
nearly killed her.
Article Mentioning
Liondrome, 4/2/1938
Rita the Lioness Goes for a Spin on the Wall
Tornado Smith, his wife Marjorie Dare, and their lion Briton
Sam Morgan Storm
Someone to Be