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Guy Martin Wall of Death - behind the scenes

Published: 07 April 2016

Updated: 05 April 2016

EXCLUSIVE: MCN’s Stephen Davison was one of the lucky few to be in the audience for Guy’s amazing record attempt. Here's how the day unfolded...

I’m amongst the first of several hundred spectators to board a coach that takes us to the ex-RAF hangar where the 37-metre Wall of Death has been constructed from 48 shipping containers.A young guy who runs a tyre business in one of the other properties on the site tells me Guy is going to use the timber from the wall to floor his new house in Kirmington after the record attempt.

4pm to 6.30pm
The two-and-a-half-hour wait reminds me of the royal visits I’ve covered in the past, where the audience is bussed in and we all stand around surrounded by security men awaiting the arrival of the VIP. Guy’s girlfriend Sharon mingles with the crowd but there is no sign of the man himself.

“Can red wristbands come to the front,” a burly bouncer shouts and we shuffle around the outside of Guy’s huge wall to Ken Fox’s tiny traditional wooden structure at the back of the hangar. Here we’re informed that we are the select few who will watch three-time BMX world champion Shanaze Reade attempt to break the cycling speed record on the smaller wall. There isn’t a lot of enthusiasm for this amongst these ardent Guy Martin fans until they realise that we are actually overlooking his backstage area. Some of the crowd shout encouragement and Guy responds with a few thumbs ups and “Alright boys”. 

Guy appears a little nervous as the start of the live broadcast approaches. So nervous in fact that he takes a plastic bottle and clambers beneath the scaffolding to have a quick pee!
6.55pm With something as dangerous as what Guy is attempting, ‘live’ is a relative term. Guy’s Labrador, Nigel, is curled up on the backstage settee, chewing a bone, as presenter Steve Jones interviews Guy and his new Formula One friend, David Coulthard, 20 minutes before viewers at home begin tuning in.

My phone beeps with a message. “How does the wall look?” John McGuinness, Guy’s former TT rival, enquires. Guy and a girl with a Guinness Book of World Records clipboard join us on the top of Fox’s rickety wall to watch Shanaze make her record attempt. “Fair play lass!” Guy shouts as she is declared a new world record-holder. Meanwhile, Nigel continues to gnaw at his bone and refuses to leave the sofa.

We’re instructed to use the earplugs we’ve been supplied with as the Indian roars into life. Cameras swing back and forth on booms as the floor manager, barely audible above the cheering, counts down from 40 seconds to 10 as the real show business begins. The eight times Scarborough Gold Cup winner struggles to maintain a steady throttle opening with the Indian. He shakes his head as he consults with mentor Ken Fox. 

Guy rolls back into the main arena for his second and final attempt at breaking the record. This time he is riding the Rob North-framed 750cc BSA triple that he built at home, especially for the record attempt. “It’s a total bitsa,” his Dad, Ian tells me. “He’s thought it all out and he knows what he wants for the job.”A camera crew catches a close-up of Nigel dozing on the couch.

Guy obviously feels more at home on the BSA. The engine note is steadier and he is faster.After a few warm up laps his mechanic, Cammy urges him to “give it the beans” and Guy blasts up on to the Wall for a second run.He is faster but it’s on his third run that Guy sets the new record speed of 78.15mph. He still isn’t satisfied though and asks for another go. Guy’s extra run causes complete confusion and Steve Jones admits to camera that this wasn’t in the script. Wanting more, the crowd cheer Guy on as he heads back up the wall. His time is no faster and he considers yet another run but is finally told he must stop.

With the world record achieved, the broadcast comes to an abrupt end. Drained, Guy cuts through the crowds to his back-stage couch. “You were funny, you were marvellous and we have had Tweets saying ‘I wish Guy Martin was my science teacher,’ an ecstatic Channel 4 executive gushes. An extraordinary day’s work completed, Guy sups a mug of tea and tells me he will be back to truck mechanicing in the morning.“I’ve got a Scania R620 with a headlight that needs sorting,” he explains. Nigel is fast asleep. 

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