Photography: The Wall of Death and the Lion

Take a close look at this photo. That’s right, that is a lion in the sidecar! This is the Wall of Death. It was a staple in fairs and carnivals from the 20’s to the 60’s and still seen here and there today. With the advent of faster motorcycles in the 20’s riders realized that centrifugal force could keep them stuck to a vertical wall (in basically a huge wooden barrel) –  if they got going fast enough. So why not add a lion.


Tornado Smith and Maureen Swift

Tornado Smith and the lion

Tornado and Maureen

Cookie Crum

Cavalcade of Thrills



Posted on June 18, 2011, in Photography and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. fourth pic down aint ‘tornado smith’, its ‘fearless egbert’ straight up !

  2. Hello,
    We’re researching a book on women and motorcycles, mostly in the 30’s and 40’s. We’d like to use some of your “wall of death” and Cookie Crumb photos. Please let us know the best way to proceed. Thanks for any help you can provide.
    David McKay and Linda Back McKay

  3. Hello. I’m sorry to say I don’t know all that much about this – just some research from google. if I remember correctly I found the Wall of Death photo on I have no idea who owns those photos. Best of luck. Let me know how it progresses. I love stuff like this. BTW if you need any graphic design help w/ your book drop me a line.

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