Enter… The Globe of Death: A Study in 3-D Motorcycle Choreography

Story & Photos by Randy Twells

View the Globe of Death photo gallery!

View the Globe of Death videos!

A regular feature at both Spring and Fall Street Vibes is the Globe of Death Stunt Show—using a huge metal ball made of criss-crossing strips of steel about 4 inches apart all around, all welded up with a door in the side, that the performers enter on bikes and ride around in a choreographed dance of high speed maneuvers. Lots of people watch this and get their autographed poster, or a photo of the action from the crowd, but several years ago I thought, I’m going to get the best shot ever—so I asked the show’s owner and main guy John Stotts if I could go underneath the Globe and shoot directly up through the grids to show the action inside the Globe unimpeded by the framework and he said Yes! So every year I do this.

Of course, I have to hold the camera lens just below the actual open space between the grids because, there is actually a motorcycle tire rolling over that spot numerous times during the show, and the whole globe shakes, rattles and rolls due to the forces exerted by the bikes rolling in all directions, just enough that if you don’t have nerves of steel like the Globe itself, don’t try this!! And as John says, “if this Globe’s a rockin’, don’t come a-knockin’!” So I avoid getting my camera lens embedded with a motorcycle tire track, and shoot away, bracing the camera with my little finger against the grids and the lens just about ½” below the opening- any farther out and I lose the wide angle shot of the action inside.

This time John’s ride partner was Daniel, who used to also perform stunts with him at the “Splash!” show in Las Vegas in the late 1980’s (coincidentally along with Tamara Evans our National Anthem singer from the Flag Raising!). Seasoned riders both, there is a technique and order of what they do to get things rolling, literally, without killing each other—thus the term “Globe of Death”— one wrong move, and yep you could be fulfilling that moniker. In the history of other similar Globe acts, 3 people have actually died while performing, so yes it can bite, hard.

One rider goes in and begins his circuit inside the Globe, moving his line of travel to either go around the equator or, doing an overhead vertical loop or changing line of travel from one to the other type of circuit.

For a second rider coming in, now it gets complicated. They start out both at the bottom. One rider starts into the loop around the equator. Then the second rider enters that same line of travel so that they are opposite each other. They coordinate with left arm outstretched reaching to center to line up with each other. Then when they know they are exactly opposite, they can then synchronize for their pre-choreographed plan where one can alter his line and drop down to start the overhead vertical loop while the other stays in the equator position. This is very complicated in a confined globular space of only 14’ 6” in diameter! Also gravity defying yet all following the laws of physics which permits them for a moment, to be suspended in mid-air upside down. Also they do what looks like an “X” pattern, where they loop diagonally up and down and cross over each others’ path.

To do this safely you must understand how to lean within the Globe, keep a constant speed, and how to keep track of the other rider at all times in your peripheral vision.

Then however, you have to also STOP. Hmmm…. There is a skill to knowing when, where and how to stop so you do not hit the other riders!

So no they are not riding 10-foot choppers in there! Rather, Yamaha RT 100’s are their bikes of choice, modified with custom wheels, tires, beefed up suspension, custom exhaust, and custom carbon fiber uni-bodies. Disclaimer: “Do not try this at home…” John has been riding motorcycles for 22 years and BMX bikes doing stunts for many years before that.

This year John also brought his teenage son Jordan with him, who helped me climb over the Globe’s hydraulic stand components and not destroy my camera (or the Globe– hey I can be dangerous don’t let me run with a Globe of Death) and as usual his Manager Marty Romley was there too taking care of announcer duties when John gets his helmet on and jumps into action. You can find out more at www.globeofdeath.com Check the FAQ’s and learn a lot!! So the next time you see John Stotts and Daniel out there, like at this year’s 19th Fall Street Vibrations Sept. 24-29, stop and say Hello and let them know your comments or questions! They are always happy to talk!

At last Fall Street Vibes I also shot GoPro video from under the Globe – Wow!! This time I gave John the GoPro and they put it on their mount and did the video for me! Then I also got our now regularly scheduled shot where John stops and looks straight down into the camera- a killer shot! At this Spring Rally, John and Marty joined us for the official registered participant VIP Party in the Nugget on Saturday evening just before his 7 pm show. We all sat at a table with a family whose little kids were just thrilled to be on the same planet with this amazing rider, let alone having munchies at the same table!

All weekend, John and Daniel wowed the crowd—make sure you check ‘em out again at Fall Street Vibrations September 24-29!

View the Globe of Death photo gallery!

View the Globe of Death videos!

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About Randy Twells

One comment

  1. do you do lessons on the ball of death or do you know anybody that can help me of the Derbyshire area?