BBC Autos

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Driving the Wall of Death

About the author

Editor of BBC Autos, Matthew is a former editor at Automobile Magazine and the creator of the digital-only Roadtrip Magazine. His automotive and travel writing has appeared in such magazines as Wired, Popular Science, The Robb Report and Caribbean Travel + Life. He lives in Los Angeles with his wonderful wife and four-year-old daughter.


In Afghanistan, driving the Wall of Death

(Noorullah Shirzada/AFP/Getty Images)

Take one part centrifugal force, add two parts pure fearlessness.

During festivities on the third day of Eid ul-Fitr, a feast holiday marking the end of the Ramadan season, a particularly daring circus performer drives a car along the Wall of Death at a local Afghan carnival as a perilously close crowd watches along the edge.

The concept of the Wall of Death, also called a motordrome or silodrome, dates to the US in the 1900s, when motor racing on wooden-plank tracks begat more daring stunts involving motorcycles or automobiles. By the 1930s, dozens of travelling carnivals featured the act.

The pictured driver, seen here in 2012, lived to compete again in 2013.