Mazda 2 Proves Agility on Wall of Death

The Mazda 2 is probably the most fun to drive car in  its class. And now it has shown another side to its character by taking on the famous Demon Drome Wall of Death.

The Demon Drome Wall of Death measures just 31-foot in diameter and is 85 years old. It's made almost entirely of wood, and it's redolent with the tang of oil, sweat and fear. The track walls are completely vertical.

The Mazda2 slowly edges 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 driver's side of Mazda 2 rides up onto the edge. Behind the wheel, Dynomyte Dave guns the supermini's punchy 102ps 1.5-litre engine. With a burst of speed the Mazda2 flies up onto the wall, all four wheels leaving the floor. Time to go vertical on the Demon Drome Wall of Death.

The Demon Drome is the world's oldest operating Wall of Death. It was built in America in late 1927, at the height of popularity for these adrenalin-fuelled vertical raceways, before being shipped over to Britain by Pat Collins Funfairs shortly after construction was completed. The bespoke wooden structure was then sold on and eventually ended up as an attraction in Skegness where it played to audience until the early 1980s.

The Wall of Death enjoyed a new lease of life when it was rebranded the ‘Motordrome' and travelled around the country until the turn of the last century when it was packed away in storage and forgotten. It was rescued and revived by Cornwall-based ‘Dynomyte' Dave Seymour and his family who completely refurbished the historic wooden track in a meticulous three-year project, christening it The Demon Drome in the process.

Dynomyte Dave, his son Duke and daughter Alabama are at home circling the Demon Drome on their 1920s Indian Scout motorcycles. They make dealing with the 4g force that pools blood in their legs and gives them tunnel vision while hurtling around the wall look like an absolute doddle. They can ride their motorbikes one-handed, standing up, side-saddle and even blindfolded. But a car is something entirely different.

The Mazda2 - a flagship 1.5-litre three-door Sport model - was handed over to Kent-based Jota Sport, the  outfit that also developed the race-winning MX-5 GT that currently campaigns in the British GT Championship. It's technicians removed the seats and installed a bucket seat with full race harness. Simon Cotterell, one of Mazda's own technicians, was then on hand at the track to deactivate the Mazda2's sophisticated electronic stability system and dual front airbags.

The front foglamps were also removed to allow more flexibility in the bumper and the Mazda'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.

Responding to the roar of spontaneous applause that instantly fills the track, 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..."

To see the Mazda2's awe-inspiring laps of the Demon Drome visit http://youtu.be/RtZyxsAT6VA

 

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