Guy Martin’s Wall of Death (Part 1)
This Easter Monday Guy Martin will ride around the largest Wall of Death ever built, aiming for a top speed of 60mph and a Guinness Word Record, all live on TV. Here’s everything you need to know before the big event…
Road racer, daredevil, truck mechanic and tea-quaffing TV star. He’s Evel Knievel meets Fred Dibnah
he Wall of Death is ridiculous. Daredevils ride 100-year-old Indian Scouts inside a big barrel, actively defying the laws of gravity as they perpetually flick round and around, battling serious motion sickness, blackouts and crushing G-forces. Somehow they stick to the wall as their tyres skim inches from the top where spectators stand, gawking in awe.
But that’s not enough for Guy. No, he’s going to attempt a Wall of Death world record. To get the Guinness record he’ll need to reach 60mph and then come to a controlled stop; that means riding the biggest wall the world has ever seen, faster than anyone before him and with more G-force than any rider has ever experienced. Oh, and he’s doing it live, in front of millions of TV viewers, and the word is he wants to hit 80mph. So no pressure then, apart from the 6G of it draining the blood from his brain.
Guy’s record attempt harks back to the days of Evel Knievel's epic live stunts. The wall has thrilled audiences since the early 1900s, but not like this. Not at this speed and not at this incredible, gob-smacking size with more G-force than astronauts endure.
“When I first heard the idea, I genuinely thought ‘that’s the best idea anyone’s come up with ever,’” says Guy. “I’m the luckiest man alive getting to do this. Let’s get stuck in, let’s have it. It’s gonna be a right night!”
Good luck sir, and hats off to you.
Who is Guy Martin?
Guy burst on to the road racing scene back in 2002 when he defected to Irish roads after clashing with officialdom in the British short circuit scene. Fast straight out of the box, he made an immediate impact and returned home to win his first Scarborough Gold Cup in 2003. Dozens of top class road race wins have followed but, so far, never that elusive Isle of Man TT victory.
Guy’s non-racing (but equally crazy) records
• Guy set a new record as Britain’s fastest cyclist by pedalling to over 112 mph behind a truck on Pendine Sands in Wales in 2013.
• Hit the water head first at over 30mph as he rode a motorcycle 65 metres over the surface of the water at Lake Bala in Snowdonia.
• Went head first down a ski slope in Andorra at over 83mph to set a new world record for the fastest speed ever recorded on a toboggan.
Guy has won eight Scarborough Gold Cups, taken six podium finishes at the North West 200, won three Southern 100 Championship races to equal Joey Dunlop’s record at the event, taken 11 Ulster Grand Prix race wins and has 16 podium finishes at the Isle of Man TT, more than any other rider who has never won a Mountain course race.
What’s the Wall of Death?
With its roots in US board tracking, the Wall of Death dates from 1911 when the first riders tackled a vertical wooden drum in touring shows and fairs. In the 1920s Indian used the Wall to prove the reliability of its bikes.
Expert view - Stephen Davison
Only a fool would dismiss him
Some people have suggested that the actual logistics of the wall he has to ride will make it difficult for him to succeed, but I am sure the team of engineers and technicians Guy has worked with to build it have done all of their sums correctly.
These ventures are risky and, even though every risk is addressed, things can still go wrong, as Top Gear’s Richard Hammond found in 2006 when he was badly injured in a drag car crash for TV.
As a road racer, Guy is more familiar with risk than almost anyone else. Given everything he has achieved in racing and in his daredevil exploits for television only a fool would dismiss his chances of breaking the Wall of Death record.
The training he is doing for his Tour Divide cycle race in America this summer will ensure he is superfit for the attempt but – perhaps most important of all – there is absolutely no question about Guy’s skill and bravery in taking on the challenge. He is just the man for the job.
Photos: Ryan Mcnamara/Channel 4