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Homepage. This page: A stunt-car act displaying at a meeting during 1955 somewhere in the UK.

The Hollywood Motor Rodeo featuring the Trans-World Auto Daredevils, 1955.

This small batch of photographs turned up in mid-2010, with a programme for the outfit's 1956 displays turning up in 2012 (see below). The photos all appear to have been taken at a meeting for daredevil stunt-car drivers, although the venue is hardly bursting with spectators so perhaps it was a practice day? A number of cars are present. The first photograph shows a pair of American motors, emblazoned with signwriting for the "Trans-World Auto Daredevils" and, on the front doors, "Hollywood Motor Rodeo". I believe the photos all date to 1955, the first year of the Rodeo's appearance in the UK.
At first glance I assumed that this was an American team photographed somewhere in the US, but it appears not. Despite the two liveried cars being of American origin, and both being LHD, the venue is in the UK. Just visible in the background is a British Bedford PC van, and further in the distance, a small 1930's car - possibly a Series 1 Morris 8. The two cars in the foreground also have British registrations. Final confirmation is given by the signwriting just visible on the nearest car's bootlid - Goodyear Tubeless Tyres (not Tires), and the presence of a Mk1 Ford Zodiac to the right, registration 169 CPU (from Essex, post-March 1955).
(Please click the thumbnail to view full-size image.)
The Hollywood Motor Rodeo - Trans-World Auto Daredevils

Trans-World Auto Daredevils.

The second photgraph shows one of the Trans-World Auto Daredevils' cars in better detail. A Bedford CA van, with Goodyear livery, can just be seen on the left. Was this event in some way sponsored by a Ford dealer? It would explain the presence of the Mk1 Ford in these photographs. Over to the right, in the distance, are two vintage motor-cars, crudely daubed with paint advertising "English's For Ford". These look like a pair of old b*ngers that would be sacrificed during a "show".
Stunt-car drivers
The third photo in this set shows the Mk1 Zodiac in more detail, also sporting advertising for the motor "rodeo". Closer inspection of the photo shows a block behind the rear wheel, and a jack underneath the driver's sill. There's a chap underneath the front of the Ford, and the whitewall tyre on the offside front wheel looks decidedly grubby. Another, very poor, photograph that I've not reproduced here, just about reveals a motorcycle jumping a line of parked Zodiacs as part of the display.
A classic Ford at this stunt car display

A car is rolled.

The next sequence of three photographs shows a car in the process of being rolled over. First the car is shown as its offside wheels leave the launch ramp, tipping the car into the first of what must have been several rolls. Just visible in the far distance are various new Fords lined up on show, again suggesting the involvement of a Ford agency, probably English's (?). Photo number two shows the car as it comes back down, and is followed by a final shot of this car's destruction as the marshalls roll it back onto its wheels. Another car in the livery of Hollywood Motor Rodeo can be seen to the right.
A car is rolled over

Venue anyone?.

Does anyone recognise the venue? The final photograph in this set shows the entry turnstiles, not in themselves particularly interesting but it may help identify the location of these photographs.
Name the venue?

The Hollywood Motor Rodeo display.

Searching around brings up a few references to this stunt car display. I read elsewhere that it was formed by a racer of stock cars, namely Gerry Scalli, however more recent updates correct and clarify the situation (see further down). The Motor Rodeo toured around, appearing at various locations across the UK incorporating one or two acts under the Rodeo banner. Harringay Stadium, a regular stock car racing venue at the time, welcomed the Rodeo in May 1955, as did Odsal Stadium.

A programme for the 1956 Hollywood Motor Rodeo displays.

While rooting around in a secondhand bookshop, a rare copy of the Hollywood Motor Rodeo visitor's programme turned up. This was for the show's second year of displaying in the UK, 1956. The cover features illustrations of cars being rolled, crashed and trashed, while the rear cover promotes their usage of Goodyear tubeless tyres, for the second year in a row.
Programme for the 1956 Motor Rodeo in England
Priced at one shilling, it introduced the reader to the dare-devil drivers who took part in the displays, and the changes introduced for 1956, some of which are outlined in the paragraphs below...
America's greatest motor daredevils, assembled from among the outstanding stuntment of the moving pictures, speedways and expositions, will be seen in action in a death-defying and continuously thrilling series of spine-tingling stunts with the Hollywood Motor Rodeo show to-night.
Making their second annual visit to England and Europe, nothing has been left undone by Producer Earl F. Newberry, dean of American thrill show impressarios and Abe Saperstein, celebrated owner of the Harlem Globetrotters basketball team under whose sponsorship the Rodeo has crossed the Atlantic, to excel last year's presentation.
In America, the names of Al Gross (voted "Mr Daredevil" by the Stuntmen's Association of Hollywood, for 1955), Chuck Beeler, Jim Williams, Speed Berquist, Don Woods and the others are synonymous with courage and spectacular driving. A new surprise personality will be "Captain Dynamite" who will be featured in a thrill event never before presented on this side of the Atlantic.
The stuntmen will duplicate many of the best feats they have performed in the moving pictures, on television, for newsreels, and in speedway performances. They will drive brand new cars up and over inclined ramps, side by side and bumper to bumper at a rapid rate of speed, then criss-cross and perform spectacular precisions that will have you gasping. They will drop from speeding motor-cycles on to the track through walls of fire; lie on the hood of a racing car and with their helmeted heads smash a flaming wall; speed a car up an incline and hurtle it 75 feet through the air over a car driven underneath, and land on another incline, if all goes well; perform similarly with a motor-cycle over four or five parked autos, and so on down the line.
Drivers of the Trans-World Auto Daredevils display team
Joining the Rodeo for 1956 was the Cytrix Troupe, a group of British stunt motorcycle "equilibrists" who had already appeared in several films, displayed in front of the Queen, and earned an international respect among the many people who'd seen their two-wheeled acts. A photo of four members of the Cytrix Troupe, balanced upon a single moving motorcycle, appears on page six of the programme. A motorcyclist is also shown jumping a row of Mk1 Ford Zephyr Zodiacs, cars that are in the same registration series as the Zodiac referred to in the photos higher up this page - in the programme's photograph, cars registered 165 CPU, 166 CPU, and 168 CPU (plus one other) are visible.
In all there were 19 different displays due to take place at each Motor Rodeo, performed by either the Trans-World Auto Daredevils, or the Cytrix Motorcycle Equilibrists. The producers are given as Earl Newberry and Abe Saperstein. The Rode organiser's address is 159 North Dearborn Street, Chicago 1, Illinois, USA.
Does anyone reading this have any memories of attending a Hollywood Motor Rodeo, or have any links with the Cytrix motorcycle display team?

More information turns up in 2013.

Robin contacted me in July 2013 with the following information regarding the Motor Rodeo, and the later "Hollywood Motor Maniacs" and also "Hellfire Stunt Drivers" :
"I have just been looking over your very informative classic cars site and very good it is too! My name is Robin Godbeer and I am working part time for a Mr Ellis Daw of Sparkwell, in Devon. I have already helped Ellis to write his autobiography entitled "From the Lamb to the Tiger", which is an account of his varied careers from a farm boy, 13 yr old home guard member, dairy farmer, to owner and founder of the Dartmoor Wildlife Park (where I worked for over 22 years!). In between all that, Ellis also had a very successful career as a stock car racer (P32) at the very start of the sport in this country, and also a stunt driver! We are now working on enlarging the stock car section of his autobiography into a standalone stock car book, after prompting from members of the Veteran's Stock Car Association.
"I am currently going through the early days of his stunt car days and working on the Hollywood Motor Rodeo information. Ellis also has a copy of that same 1956 program and also a copy of the 1955 program too (the very first UK tour).
"A couple of points, Gerry Scalli - the Plymouth Car Dealer, didn't have anything to do with the Hollywood Motor Rodeo! The HMR was a purely American team under the leadership of Abe Saperstein (a London-born emmigrant to the USA) and General Director Earl Newberry. The first tour of the UK and Europe in '55 had 13 events, and was so successful that the follow-up tour the next year expanded to 19 as shown in the program. During that first tour, the Yanks found that the British Ford Zodiac and the newest B.S.A. motorcycles were so superior to their imported American Fords and Harley Davidsons, that they bought an entire fleet of them to continue the tour with!
"I'm not sure how many further tours the Americans performed, but when they eventually came to a close a certain Gerry Scalli decided that he could make money out of the same thing so he formed a completely un-connected team which he called "The Hollywood Motor Maniacs Ltd" (nothing at all to do with Hollywood though!). Among his drivers was one Ellis Daw! Gerry Scalli's team only lasted a year or two at the most, Ellis always believed that the stunts were too tame and towards the end he left the team and founded his own stunt team which he called the "Hellfire Stunt Drivers". Ellis' team, which included his younger sister Maureen, went on to perform at many stock car stadiums with the help of his good friend Gerry Dommett. Ellis has a large collection of '50's stock car programs, many of which feature the Hellfire Stunt Drivers on the cover.
"That photo of the turnstiles rings a bell with Ellis but his fading memory refuses to divulge the location! Sorry about that. Yours is the first source I have found for actual pictures of the Hollywoods, I can now put a description of their cars into Ellis' book, many thanks for that!
Thanks for the additional information Robin.
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