In the run up to the Oktoberfest 2011, the traditional fairground ride 'Pitt's wall of death' and the Heinkel-Club Germany e.V. repeated the daredevil experiment of riding a 9.5 PS Heinkel Tourist up the steep face.
For almost 75 years now, foolhardy men and women have been performing in bold acrobatic acts on the steep face. Family owned since the 1930s, the steep face has been lovingly restored two years ago. Since then, the old wooden construction of the encircled area - 8m high and 12m wide - shines in the splendour of the past in its original colours red and ivory. Hardly anybody still remembers that in the early 60ies, in the heydays of the economic miracle, the company 'Heinke had tried to draw the public attention to their Tourist model by means of spectacular marketing campaigns. A steep face seemed the ideal location to demonstrate the scooters sturdiness and reliability. 50 years after this happening, the Heinkel Club Germany e.v. initiated the re-enactment of the historic moment on Pitt's wall of death. One of the Heinkel-Club members had found old photogrphies in the archive, showing Heinkel scooters on the steep face. The first thought was: 'This is so cool. We have to do it'. It took almost a year to let the idea become reality. But back to the beginning of the story:
Luckily the logo of the fairground ride was recognizable on the historical pictures. After extensive research, the Heinkel Club got into contact with the current operator of 'Pitt's wall of death'. Now started the most difficult part of
the project for the members of the club. How could you convince a steep face performer to ride a Heinkel Tourist up the wall? 'What exactly is a Heinkel scooter?' was the first question, of course. Normally heavy Indian motorbikes with
rigid frames are used for riding up the steep face. With only 9.5 PS and the small tyres a real challenge for man and machine. But 50 years ago, the Heinkel Tourist had already proven that it was possible.
If the performers of today would also be able to conquer the steep face on the Heinkel remained yet to be proved... The Heinkel Club members were told that the historical steep face is no longer travelling, but is only put up once a year
at the Oktoberfest in Munich. So they invited steep face rider Jagath Perera to take a closer look at the scooter. The steep face is putting a high pressure (in fact three times higher than normal) on rider and scooter. A real challenge
for the Tourist's suspension. Would the ground clearance be high enough? As the steep face was not yet built up, you were not able to test it in advance, but had to test it right on the spot. Nobody knew if the scooters were prepared for
this action or not.
The members of the Heinkel Club had three month to prepare for the event, to coordinate the escort team, a photographer and agree on a date. With a speed of more than 50 km/h on a narrow wall, taking good pictures was definitely a job
for a professional photographer like Volker Rost, who is specialised on this type of action shots. As nobody could tell if the experiment was going to be sucessful, the happening was kept a secret within the inner circle of the Heinkel
On thursday, one week before the Oktoberfest started, the secret mission to Munich started. The next morning, the photo shooting started right during the MOT's certification of the steep face.
First the tyre pressure was increased, then the tread was modified with the angle grinder to make sure it would provide a good grip. After a short test on the ground, the scooter was rady for the wall and after only a couple of roudns it
was clear: it would not work like that. The scooter's stand was grinding into the freshly restored surface of the steep face at the transition to the 45° slope. So the stand was demounted and the tyre pressure was increased again. Also
the initial speed had to increase in order to reach a right angle between scooter and wall as quickly as possible. The Heinkel succeeded! Alongside the pictures that the photographer took in a truly artistic manner, there was also an
onboard cam installed on the scooter to record the daredevil experiment from the rider's perspective, who's pleasure to ride a more than 50 years old scooter in the steep face. increased with every round.
Text: Jürgen Weber - Edito rollerJOURNAL
Jun 05 2012, 12:27