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November 4, 2021

The Girl Who Flirts With Death: Amazing Photos of Motorcycle Stunt Rider Lillian La France in the 1920s and 1930s

“It was the thrill of risking my life that made me to take to drome riding. I was the girl who flirts with death. From childhood I was inspired by wanderlust. I was always alone, dreaming of adventures– how to ride a pony out West, to follow my calling to fame. This was my secret. I shared it with no one.” – Lillian LaFrance

Lillian La France (1894–1979) was born as Lillian Ossage, but she changed her last name when she got into riding in motordromes. In 1916, she ran away from home in Kansas to be part of a traveling carnival. La France was billed as the world’s foremost woman motorcycle stunt rider, one of a handful of female stunt riders in the 1920s and 1930s.

La France started riding the Wall of Death carnival sideshow and motordrome in 1924 at the age of 30. She used a “skull and crossbones” logo, and was skilled at riding motorcycles and driving four wheel vehicles, and was the first person to ride a wall in a scaled down midget racing car. She was one of the first and most popular female wall of death riders of the 1920s and 1930s. At the time, walls of death were often called silo-motordromes.


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