Old wheels, new thrills

Wheels Through Time celebrates 11 years with Wall of Death
By Jessi Stone Assistant editor | Jun 21, 2013
Photo by: Jessi Stone Wahl E. Walker rides his 1975 Harley Davidson on the Wall of Death Friday at Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley.

Motorcycle fans were offered a piece of nostalgia on Friday when a classic traveling show rolled into town.

American Motor Drome set up The Wall of Death on the grounds of Wheels Through Time Museum in Maggie Valley to be a part of the museum's 11th anniversary celebration. The motor drome is like a tall cylinder and spectators watch from the top as motorcycles speed along sides of the walls.

The boards under your feet shake, the sounds of the motors are deafening and the warnings to hold onto your belongings are serious as the stuntmen fly by the top on the wall — just inches from your face.

“I’ve never seen anybody die on the wall of death but the wall of broken bones just doesn’t have the same ring to it,” said Wahl E. Walker, as he pointed to all the skid marks and dings left on the drome floor.

Walker has been with the traveling show for 13 years. The Wall of Death travels to about 30 states throughout the year to give motorcycle enthusiasts a fast-past thrill.

“This type of entertainment is the original extreme motor sport,” he said. “This concept is 100 years old.”

The motor drome shows originated in the early 1900s when they traveled with carnival shows like Amusements of America.

Rider Charlie Ransom rides a 1926 Indian Scout motorcycle during the show. He even rides on the wall at a 90-degree angle with his hands up in the air.

Walker rides a 1975 Harley Davidson and the finale features Walker and Go-kart rider Sparky J. Lightnin' riding the wall at the same time.

As Walker pointed out during the show, there’s no insurance policy to cover this type of profession. The riders work together to raise money for injuries. Spectators were encouraged to hold out a donation while Sparky J. Lightnin’ road by the edge of the wall to pick the bills from their hands.

For more information, visit www.americanwallofdeath.com.