The Well of Death
April 10, 2011 6:30 AM   Subscribe

Ladies and Gentlemen, presenting Maut ka Kuan, a.k.a. Death Pit or Well of Death, a inverted cone of wooden planks assembled for the express purpose of driving motorcycles and cars in circles at speeds that make them stick to the walls. The drivers can collect a little cash along the way.
posted by bwg (42 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's always sad when "too poor or desperate to care about one's personal health or safety" is confused for "bravery".
posted by Thorzdad at 6:42 AM on April 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


I had not seen it with cars before -- it's all kinda nuts, but man. Previously.
posted by Devils Rancher at 6:49 AM on April 10, 2011


Needs more lions.
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:54 AM on April 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


See, if I did this I would choose the car, because when you crap your pants in fear it's probably hard to stay on a motorcycle.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:55 AM on April 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Deathalicious: "See, if I did this I would choose the car, because when you crap your pants in fear it's probably hard to stay on a motorcycle."

Anti-eponysterical!
posted by bwg at 6:57 AM on April 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


As with StickyCarpet "This lacks enough threat to life and limb, let's add lions"
posted by Coobeastie at 7:04 AM on April 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I am SHOCKED that these young men are not wearing helmets.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:14 AM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Let me ride on the Wall of Death one more time.
posted by mr vino at 7:15 AM on April 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


The third photo here is for Amusements of America Wall of Death Hell On Wheels and kind of cool.
posted by Sailormom at 7:22 AM on April 10, 2011


Didn't Elvis do a movie about the motorcycle version of this?
posted by Hardcore Poser at 7:27 AM on April 10, 2011


Hardcore Poser: "Didn't Elvis do a movie about the motorcycle version of this"

"We gotta win this race!"
posted by bwg at 7:28 AM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's always sad when "too poor or desperate to care about one's personal health or safety" is confused for "bravery".

Really? What did you see that made you think "poor and desperate" rather than well-trained and adventurous?
posted by the christopher hundreds at 7:29 AM on April 10, 2011


As if regular roads on the subcontinent weren't bad enough, now you have a section of horizontal motorway to deal with.
posted by The River Ivel at 7:31 AM on April 10, 2011


I'm surprised at how low a speed is required to keep you up on the wall. Those white cars - that looked like our old Peugeot 404 station wagon but are probably some anachronistic Indian make - looked like they were only going about 30km/h.
posted by Flashman at 7:54 AM on April 10, 2011


Seattle has a big weird public art piece in the U District that references the Wall of Death. Seattle Weekly blurb with more info.
posted by Sublimity at 8:03 AM on April 10, 2011


Pinckney Benedict, one of my favorite writers, did a short story about one of these.
posted by dortmunder at 8:11 AM on April 10, 2011


Ever stood on the track at a NASCAR venue? The outside edges of the turns are practically vertical. It's hard to see on TV, but yeah, those turns are freakin' BANKED, man. These guys (and gals) are going 180 MPH across a stretch of vertical asphalt with other cars just inches away. I'm no fan of racing, in fact I fucking hate the sport for a whole list of reasons, but after standing on the track and pondering a bit, I'll never accuse the drivers of lacking intestinal fortitude.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 8:13 AM on April 10, 2011


If those cars are right-hand drive then those are the drivers hanging out the windows!
posted by Jode at 8:18 AM on April 10, 2011


That's kinda nuts.
posted by electricsandwich138 at 8:19 AM on April 10, 2011


I tend to avoid anything with "Death" in the title.
posted by tommasz at 8:30 AM on April 10, 2011


Flashman: "I'm surprised at how low a speed is required to keep you up on the wall. Those white cars - that looked like our old Peugeot 404 station wagon but are probably some anachronistic Indian make - looked like they were only going about 30km/h."

I was too, thinking it was the vertical component of the normal force that was keeping them on the wall, but no, it's friction
posted by valdesm at 8:33 AM on April 10, 2011


Shouldn't the crowd be chanting, "Break a Deal, Face the Wheel" or some similar rhyming Bartertown bylaw for this event?
posted by yeloson at 8:33 AM on April 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


more Previously. And Dark Roasted Blend (has lions). NYT on Samantha Morgan
posted by warbaby at 8:36 AM on April 10, 2011


Shouldn't the crowd be chanting, "Break a Deal, Face the Wheel" or some similar rhyming Bartertown bylaw for this event?

"Kick The Balls, Drive The Wall!"
posted by vibrotronica at 8:45 AM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I saw one of these when I was a kid, motorcycles only. It was quite something in person as you could feel the platform vibrate as the motorcycle went past. So, you have the doppler effect of the exhaust note, the vibration and the visual stimulus of death defying feats, quite something for a wee lad at a carnival.
posted by Antidisestablishmentarianist at 8:51 AM on April 10, 2011


Should anyone in the US wish to see a Motorcycle Wall of Death in person, the American Motor Drome Company will be staging their show again at the Vintage Motorcycle Festival at Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, Alabama. I saw this show at the 2010 Vintage Fest, and even for a gearhead adventure-seeker like myself, it was crazy impressive.
posted by workerant at 9:15 AM on April 10, 2011


There was often a Wall of Death in the travelling fairgrounds in Lancashire in the fifties. I saw one once. Quite impressive. The noise of revving engines and spiel of the barker, at least, if not the physics. It was all over far too soon.

Course if you only had a tanner to spend, it was not an easy choice. For one go at the Wall of Death you could get two goes on the bumper cars. Then again most times I only had a ha'penny or two I'd saved from collection at church on sundays.

It was usually the same romantically enticing ruffians riding the decrepit motor bikes that collected the money on the bumper cars, leaping agilely from car to car as we careered inexpertly around the track.

Running away to join a travelling fair was a tempting thought at times of despair.
posted by jan murray at 9:59 AM on April 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


It's pretty much like this circus act without any choreography required.
posted by kozad at 10:20 AM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


the other wall of death ...

And yeah, I do love that Richard Thompson song (one more time). May the centrifugal friction generated by our velocity allow us to defy gravity. It's almost like being alive.
posted by philip-random at 11:02 AM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thorzdad: "It's always sad when "too poor or desperate to care about one's personal health or safety" is confused for "bravery"."

Can't this be said of what most people do for the vast majority of their waking hours? The degree of detriment to our health varies from "carpal tunnel" to "radiation poisoning" but it's all just a grind to get cream.

Also, does it make a difference in your assessment to know that this happened in North America and Europe before it happened in Pakistan? Because what you wrote kind of feels a bit like "look at those poor brown people".
posted by danny the boy at 11:03 AM on April 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Eat the Peach was an Eighties film depicting a DIY version of the stunt track in Ireland. The story behind the film was based on the two brothers who had watched Elvis' scene in Roustabout.
posted by Smart Dalek at 11:17 AM on April 10, 2011


Really? What did you see that made you think "poor and desperate" rather than well-trained and adventurous?

I met a member of the Indian Army motorcycle stunt riding team once at a party in New Delhi. Poor and desperate he was not but well trained and adventurous? Certainly.
posted by infini at 11:52 AM on April 10, 2011


This picture captures an amazing moment. I also think the orange hair (that matches the orange pants) bumps it up one level.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:54 AM on April 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


The part that seems crazy dangerous to me (besides the hanging out a moving car bits which a person doesn't need a pit to do see all that ghost riding bullshit a couple years ago) are the guys standing in the bottom of the well one mechanical failure away from raining mechanical death. I'd drive a car in one of these things in a heart beat given the chance.

The River Ivel writes "As if regular roads on the subcontinent weren't bad enough, now you have a section of horizontal motorway to deal with."

Aren't most motorways mostly horizontal?
posted by Mitheral at 12:16 PM on April 10, 2011


I need more bread with my circus
posted by Redhush at 2:14 PM on April 10, 2011


Let me ride on the Wall Of Death one more time
You can waste your time on the other rides
This is the nearest to being alive
Oh let me take my chances on the Wall Of Death

You can go with the crazy people in the Crooked House
You can fly away on the Rocket or spin in the Mouse
The Tunnel Of Love might amuse you
Noah's Ark might confuse you
But let me take my chances on the Wall Of Death

On the Wall Of Death all the world is far from me
On the Wall Of Death it's the nearest to being free

Well you're going nowhere when you ride on the carousel
And maybe you're strong but what's the good of ringing a bell
The switchback will make you crazy. Beware of the bearded lady
Oh let me take my chances on the Wall Of Death
posted by Gungho at 2:36 PM on April 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Eat the Peach was an Eighties film depicting a DIY version of the stunt track in Ireland.

Memorably described by Graham Linehan (who went on to do Father Ted and The IT Crowd) as '[the first] Irish film that doesn't make me want to run into the men's toilet and lick all 4 of the walls.'
posted by anigbrowl at 2:37 PM on April 10, 2011


Yeah fucking Richard Thompson! BAM!
posted by Dick Laurent is Dead at 4:29 PM on April 10, 2011


How do they get the cars in there to begin with?
posted by awenner at 5:13 PM on April 10, 2011


Probably similiar to how they get a zamboni on the ice; part of the wall structure is movable. Or they just start building the structure with the cars at the centre.
posted by Mitheral at 5:54 PM on April 10, 2011


I've seen something similar but as a sphere made of metal webbing. Dudes did loop-the-loops, riding motorbikes right over the ceiling. No cars though. Or lions.
posted by chavenet at 2:04 AM on April 11, 2011


I've seen those too: Motorcycles in a sphere. Even more motorcycles in a sphere.
posted by metacurious at 2:02 PM on April 11, 2011


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