Friday, 23 May 2008

Centrifugal Fiction



The existence of the "fictional" force that we all know as centrifugal is obviously crucial to Ken Fox and his team. For practical purposes the force is measured in newtons and the number is arrived at by multiplying the mass by the square of the angular velocity and again by the radius of the arc being described - all we really need to know is that enough F is generated to overpower the only too real pull of gravity. The Ken Fox Wall of Death operation runs a fine fleet of Indian Scouts and three rather ropey CB200 Hondas, the latter (I presume the Scouts are too heavy for a three-up) can be seen ripping around this 'drome, three abreast from top to bottom of the wall, the "fictional" force only too apparent as the whole structure sways and creeks under the strain. The fairground showmanship that is such an important part of the scene here is truly a delight and we must do everything we can to stop it being lost. I believe there are only two or three walls travelling the country now. The monotonous, very well worn draw-patter of the ring master employed to entice passing trade into the tent is beautifully dated and no attempt to jazz things up or dumb down the experience has been made. When under way ".. starting any minute ladies & gentlemen - just room for a handful more - .." the performance is truly thrilling, a mixture of awe and fear can be seen on the spectators' faces, nervous applause as the dare-devils tease the top wire with the wheel rims. The Fox troupe is a truly family affair and I strongly recommend you look out for them before the H&S boys kick 'em into touch. MORE FICTION !

7 comments:

Peter Ashley said...

This is unsung, gaudily lipsticked and ultimately dying England, along with Bearded Ladies, Rat Women, Six Legged Cats and the scream of teeth-pulling in tents on downland bluffs. Quick, where's the next show?

A F-A said...

I love the old Wall of Death! The selection of the right motorbike is a science in itself, one that will be soon be lost along with the walls themselves, as modern engine characteristics don't cut the mustard! A Fireblade on the wall? I don't think so!!

Diplomat said...

Alois - check out Ken's intraweb site and clock the video footage of his steam powered bike on the wall - max torque from zero revs ....... I'm just putting the third page together of some calculations about the speed (suprisingly low) required to keep the Scout ahead of gravity, obviously fluctuations in Ken's weight (before & after breakfast for instance) need to be considered.

Toby Savage said...

A small, select, group of us, including Fred Fibanacci and drinking legend Ron Combo, used to queue to watch the Wall of Death sideshow at Le Mans each year in the late 80's. Thrilled to have experienced the rythmic rocking of the wooden structure first hand. Eat the Peach is a film worth watching on the same subject.

Jon Dudley said...

Cor! Takes me back to the Kursaal Southend around 1961. I can smell the chips and hear the noise of the Indian side-valvers now. The legendary Tornado Smith ran the show along with some younger people... the showman's 'come-on' was a demonstration of trick riding a whitewall-tyred BSA A10 on the rollers outside the Wall. At the end of each performance the crowd was urged to cast their loose change down into the pit with these words "ladies and gentleman, no insurance company will give us cover for our dangerous and daring show. In order for us to be able to continue to provide this entertainment any small change you can spare will be gratefully accepted".

Tornado's Wall, I have on good authority, has ended its days as part of an indoor riding academy somewhere out on the Essex marshes.

Peter Ashley said...

Ah. Kursaal. Wasn't there once a band called The Kursaal Flyers who sang "Little does she know that I know that she knows that...." etc for five minutes?

Diplomat said...

JD - all still true EXACTLY today with Mr Fox's troupe - check out his intraweb thing