A lion, a sidecar and a wall of death

Via: Sidecar Pete’s

This great old image struck my fancy and after a bit of searching I was able to find a bit of info associated with this photo which was thought to have been taken circa 1929 in Revere Beach, MA and provides a historical reference for one of America’s craziest professions—the sideshow lion drome daredevil.

Via: Jay Lightning’ & the American Motor Drome

These type of “Wall of Death” or Thrillarena exhibitions were an amazing draw for the carnival, circus and traveling sideshows of the early to mid 1920’s. Called motor dromes—they came in all shapes, sizes and configurations. Set against the cheers and screams of fans and a busy depression era midway, many of these acts were performed on 90 degree (straight up and down) wooden barrel board walls, others were fully enclosed within steel and iron cages. None of which offered the riders any protection against injury, in the case of a wreck, or from being attacked by the animals used in the acts. Promoters of all sorts hurried to sign daredevils who were capable of both marveling the crowds with their death-defying driving skills and taming the wild beasts used in the shows.

The Looping Nixies Globe of Death Via: Thrillarena

Via: Thrillarena
Left: an unknown female lion drome rider.
Right: Ethel Purtle with the well-known star of the show—”King”

8 thoughts on “A lion, a sidecar and a wall of death

  1. Pingback: Pages tagged "sidecar"

  2. Pingback: Who is Onehippie? - Page 4203 - MyLesPaul.com

  3. Ihave these picTURES of Ethel & King in my home my grand-father trained King and rode with him countless times.i have many more hoping to set up a place for them to be viewed.

    • Donna my name is I was very close to Mrs. Purtle during the 1970’s. She was like a grandmother to me. If you have any information or pics that you can share please contact me!

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