Marvel does come to mind, superheroes, dare devil, thrill seeker or fighter pilot.
Picture this: Take off on a runway not much bigger than your lounge room, hit an angle of slats set up as a makeshift ramp laid out just wide enough so your motor bike tires don’t fall through. Oh yeah, you’re on a 198cc James Villiers motorbike. Rapidly reaching enough speed to hurtle up into the inside of a 9-metre-wide barrel and stay awake at 3Gs riding horizontal 10 feet in the air while trying to keep between the beckoning red lines that are your sweet spots between gravity pulling you, hot steel and gas to certain disaster, or going the other way and becoming the first motorbike astronaut, with no landing ramp.
This is no exaggeration, there were and still are people prepared to carry out this stunt for the pure fun of it.
This is the famous WALL OF DEATH, built in the 1920’s and brought to NZ in 1946 by The Mahon Bros Circus, some of you might remember, it was ridden at the NZ Royal Easter Show and the Life Style Show (Now the Home show) between the 50’s and 70’s by Graham Pickup and Ronnie More, the famous speedway champion.
I’m wondering if today it would get a PC filter, such as something like WALL OF COURAGE, or MAN OF STEEL (Flipping from Marvel to Justice League), you definitely needed a couple made of steel to ride it. None of these famous guys wore pads, gloves or even a helmet.
If you’re a little younger you might remember Roger Boyd, one of the fierce riders from the 90’s at events such as The Big Day Out and the National Motor Cycle Show. They rode it famous old school.
Today Roger has teamed up with a cabinet maker Grant Stewart and a dedicated team who have formed the NZ Original Wall of Death Incorporated Society to rebuild this piece of NZ’s history.
The wooden wall made of Jara, Kauri and ribs of Rosewood has been stored for the last 20 years and rot has taken its toll. A strong community of businesses such as Three Sixty have remade the crucial spines with their 5-axis router and Fortress, Custom Hoist Hire, Fortress Fasteners, Combined Haulage and Bostic have contributed in kind to help with the rebuild and the project is planned for completion in early 2021.
The Pickup family has given the wall of Death to the New Zealand Original Wall of Death incorporated Society so the wall and its daredevil stories can be protected for our future generations to marvel over.
Watch out in for Nov beach Hop in Whangamata where a static wall display, bikes and merchandise will be displayed – you can get a selfie with Roger too if you’re quick.
The plan is to have the ramp ready to ride at the next Kumeu Hot Rod Show, don’t miss this sure to be a highlight of the show.