Defying death in a Mazda 2

Back in 2011 we took a Toyota Prius to Millbrook and proceeded to do silly things with it. There were J-turns, high speed runs, injury inducing slides, and we even managed to get the car some distance off the ground. We didn’t think to try putting it round a Wall of Death. Mazda did though, so sent their Mazda2 to the circus for a day…

The Demon Drome Wall of Death is an 85 year old wooden cylinder less than 9.5 metres in diameter, and the track walls are completely vertical. The venue is assembled from the back of a truck, the old metal work and wooden planks bearing plenty of scars, and plenty of history; built in 1927, the team still use original 1920’s Indian Scout motorcycles in their daily shows, but today they’ll be replacing them with a modern family car, the Mazda2.

Dynomyte Dave (no, really) and his two children, Duke (no, really) and Alabama (no, really) look completely at home circling the Demon Drome on antique motorbikes. Riding at 30 mph, six metres up and parallel to the ground, the constant 4g force send blood pooling to their legs and reducing their ability to see clearly. That’s probably best, as daughter Alabama rides side-saddle in the shape of a crucifix.

A Mazda2 is a different beast, though. Slowly edging up and away from the horizontal base of the Wall of Death and onto its upright walls, the right front and rear tyres chirp, momentarily slip, and then grip as the car rides up. Dynomyte Dave guns the supermini’s 100 bhp 1.5-litre engine and with a burst of speed the Mazda2 Sport flies up onto the wall, all four wheels leaving the floor. The car and driver are now vertical, side windows revealing just ground or sky. The reinforced wooden structure bends and groans as it takes up the load as the car rises higher and higher up the four metre vertical wall, lapping the Demon Drome every 2.5 seconds.

Dynomyte Dave raises his arm triumphantly out the window and waves at the cheering crowd. He rockets around the Drome a few more times before bringing the Mazda back down to the horizontal. “That was incredible. Just amazing – I’m so stoked!” says Dynomyte Dave at the end of his ground-breaking run. “It was a bit tricky getting the Mazda up onto the vertical, but once it was there it was rock steady. Great fun. But I don’t think I’ll be doing it again. Not for a long while…”

Preparations were minimal. The seats were removed and replaced with a single grippy bucket seat with full race harness, while the stability control and airbags were deactivated. The front foglamps were also removed to allow more flexibility in the bumper and the supermini’s MacPherson strut front and torsion beam rear suspension was fitted with uprated bump stops to handle the incredibly high compression rate – at least twice the force of gravity – as it hurtled around the wall’s diameter. Everything else about the car was completely standard. No chassis gimmicks, no electronic trickery.

Well done Mazda, you bested us. Toyota, can we borrow that Prius again?

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Phil is a motoring writer for print and web, failed racing driver, car hoarder and banger rally competitor. Nominated for the Headline Auto Rising Star award and a MGMW member, Phil freelances for outlets as diverse as Diesel Car magazine, and Cambridge Magazine, amongst many others. He also maintains a fleet of unloved motors, but spends most of his time driving an old Corvette.

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