Auto Thrill Show's

Pete Chance presents



   
The elite men and women that made Auto Thrill Show History.
Timeline about the history, It's hard to believe, but there was a time when auto thrill shows drew larger crowds than NASCAR races. Spectators packed rickety wooden grandstands to watch daring young men in spiffy white uniforms do the "slide for life" or the "T-bone crash," to drive cars on two wheels, or to jump cars or motorcycles from ramp to ramp. In the late 1950s as many as 29 stunt shows - including Jack Kochman's Hell Drivers, Joie Chitwood's Tournament of Thrills, and Jimmy Lynch's Death Dodgers - toured, the country.
Hell Drivers - The frequently used term to describe, and the very popular title of, numerous automobile thrill-based productions performing at fairs and racetracks by various squads of stunt drivers since the 1930's. Earl "Lucky" Teter was ...the first to coin the phrase Hell Drivers, when began touring his show in 1934. Hell Drivers provided massive audiences with an always exciting show filled with precision driving and deliberate crashes.
The 5,600 seat Auto Thrill Stadium had a banked figure-8 track, the first such track to be created exclusively for stunt driving. Thirty "Hell Drivers" risked life and limb and vehicles, crashed cars and performed other stunts in a daring high-speed show. On the program were; four-car bumper tag, wing ski jumps (drivers careened off a low ramp on two wheels at 50 MPH), a crash rollover contest, and the dive bomber crash (off the ramp with an old car onto the top of a parked car). For the show's climax, a driver piloted a truck on a dangerous ramp-to-ramp flight, hurtling more than 70 feet through the air. Admission; box seats $2.00; center seats $1.50; general admission $1.00. Performances were four shows daily; six of weekends and holidays.
Featured stunts included driving cars on two wheels, crashing through flaming barricades, and jumping an automobile ramp to ramp through mid air. For many years, Hell Drivers were used to demonstrate the dependability of a manufacturers automotive product. Major Hell Driver automotive sponsors have included Chevrolet, Dodge, Chrysler, Ford, AMC Nash, and Toyota.
Later auto thrill shows coining the phrase "Hell Drivers" were launched by such famous drivers and race promoters as Jack Kochman, John Francis "Irish" Horan, Danny Fleenor, and Joie Chitwood.
General Manager of Kochman's troupe was Bob Conto. Conto, a native of Malone, New York in the state's North Country was a former radio-television announcer whose staccato delivery kept pace with the 50-mile per hour events.
2012 TONNY PETERSEN HELL DRIVERS
2011
2010
2000  CHARLIE BELKNAP HOLLIWOOD STUNT SHOW.  Paul Riddell's Imperial Stunt Drivers  In front of a the grandstand near you. Featuring: Tonny Petersen.  Out of a dust cloud...with speed increasing at every turn of the wheels....the Imperial Stunt Drivers have emerged from the pages of thrill show lore to thrill fans once again with the sights and sounds of the auto daredevils.  Representing an international array of thrill show driving talent, the Imperial Stunt Drivers are led into action by Paul Riddell of Quebec, Canada.  A legendary stunt driver and thrill show personality, Riddell started his career at a young age with the famous Congress Of Canadian Hell Drivers. With 53 years of thrill show experience to his credit, the legendary Paul Riddell has thrilled fans with performances around the globe with such thrill producers as Joie Chitwood and Stoney Roberts.  Joining the Imperial Stunt Drivers roster is Tonny Petersen of Copenhagen, Denmark.  With a legacy spanning more than four decades,Petersen has become a true master of the stunt driving trade.  Representing the United States in the International collection of stunt stars is Toby Thibodeau.  Toby, the nation's leading female stunt driver brings 23 years of experience to performances.  Aside from the hard charging action, spectators are able to share in laughter at the crazy comedy car of KoKo the clown.
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In 1991 Walter and Bill Williams were honoured with the Canadian Association of Fairs and Exhibition’s. “Industry Achievement Citation” recognizing their work entertaining audiences across Canada.
1990 NASHVILLE - Jack Kochman, the last great thrill show impresario, died Tuesday at his home in Yadkinville, N.C. He was 97.
In 1989, Kochman retired from the thrill show scene. At the time, the show was the longest-running thrill show production in history. He passed the torch to his most respected employees, Charlie Belknap and Tonny Petersen. They continued to produce the show until retiring from the business at the end of the 2004 season.
Kochman put on automobile thrill shows for more than four decades before his retirement in 1989.
1980 1987 HOLLYWOOD STUNT WORLD JACK KOCHMAN,JOHN ANDERSON, WILLIAM KINGSLEY,PAT JACKSON,WALTER WILLIAMS,PETE GROCE,JIM"CRASH"MOREAU, THE CYCLE ARTIST DON BRENEMAN AND JOHN ANDERSON JR. MORE PERFORMERS JIM EITING,LOUIS TOOMS JIM WALSH AND THE CLOWN JACK"COOKIE"COOK AND THE ANNOUNCERS CHARLES BELKNAP AND PHIL SLAGGERT. NEAL LOTT return to the world of daring-do at Delaware Speedway, August 1983. Jerry Lackey is a veteran of  JACK KOCHMAN HELL DRIVERS precision team.  1977 marks Jerry fourteenth year in the profession.
September 1976. KEN THE MAD CANADIAN CARTER with is mile jump 1977. Also in 1977 HURRICAN HELL DRIVERS. 1970 WALT KING KOVAZ. Businessman LUCKY LOTT shows his past on his Stratford Hotel bar.  Johnny Thunder  started preforming at the age of 15 with is dad's thrill show. The stunts that he preform, wheelie shows, fire tunnel, body burns, car crashes, dynamite chair, ramp to ramp motorcycle jumps,or crashing through blazing walls of fire. I currently live in Decatur Indiana and have traveled through the US Canada and Puerto Rico.
1969 PAUL RIDDELL HELL DRIVERS
"WILD BILL" REED sends a Dodge convertible burtling over 70 feet through space in a spectacular ramp-to-ramp jump at the Florida State Fair in Tampa. HE WAS KILLED IN A REVERSE SPIN STUNT August 22, 1962 in Purchase District Fair; Mayfield, KY. 1965 J.K.PRODUCTIONS presents the ``KING`` KOVAZ AUTO DAREDEVILS.
A fourth unit was produced for 1964 and 1965 to perform shows at the New York World Fair. That unit did 1,200 performances and was featured on NBC's "Today" show. Over the next five years, Kochman cut back to one unit, which toured the world, selling out venues including the Houston Astrodome. RAY JACKSON JASPER THE CLOWN. 1965 Walter & Bill Williams had gained enough experience and expertise in the business of auto thrills, to create their own show, the 'Trans-Canada Hell Drivers'. THE STOBE CAMERA CATCHES JAKE PLUMSTEAD IN A RAMP TO RAMP LEAP IN A 1959 DODGE SEDAN.


 

Was there twin Jasper the clown??? "King Kovaz" better known as "Jasper the Jerk" considered the Number 1 thrill show clown. His unpredictable antics tend to relieve the tension between each thrill stunt offered by the International Auto Daredevils. 
Kochman wasn't blind to the marketing capabilities of the automobile thrill show business, and he started a long-standing sponsor relationship with tire companies and a major automobile manufacturer. With the popularity of the auto thrill show growing, Kochman started production of a second thrill show team in 1957 and a third in 1960. Promoted as the “One Legged American Champion Movie Stunt Daredevil,” Ken Butler and his troupe of crash drivers thrilled audiences across the East Coast. Butler retired from the auto thrill show circuit during World War II, only to come out of retirement on a bet with a friend in the mid- 1950s when he was nearing 50 years of age. 
Kochman retires the Jimmie Lynch Death Dodgers name; however keeps manager Bill Reed and crew intact for new unit called Jack Kochman's International Auto Daredevils.
39 new Dodge automobiles will be split between the two units.
Reed will head up the International Auto Daredevils in Western areas, while the original Kochman show crew, will continue to be managed by Neal Hamiliton in the East.1956
JOHN "IRISH" HORAN DISCONTINUES PRODUCTION OF "IRISH" HORAN'S LUCKY HELL DRIVERS 1956. 
WALTER "KING" KOVAZ the internationally famous Thrill Show clown.
BOB CONTO general agent.  1954 The "FLAMING ATOMIC CRISSCROSS LEAP" here pictured with NEIL HAMILTON and, GEORGE PATTON at the wheel, two automobiles race down the track toward the rampways.
NEAL LOTT talks to cameraman during the making of a promotional movie for the Nash motor company in Peoria, Illinois 1951. NEAL LOTT beginning a high-ski during show at Pekin,Illinois 1951
Beam continued to operate at state and county fairs into the late 1950s, but it was Teter who added the precision driving of new automobiles over elevated ramps. The cars did reverse spins, and stuntmen were added to the show to act as daredevil clowns. 
1950 B.WARD BEAM'S WOLD CHAMPION DAREDEVILS Mid-Century YORK Inter-State FAIR'S Terrific Windup.
1950 B.WARD BEAM'S WORLD CHAMPION DAREDEVILS AUTO LEAP COMPLETELY OVER TRANCONTINENTAL BUS.
NEAL LOTT a ramp-to-ramp jump at Sudbury in 1949.
JOHN HORAN DECLINES OFFER FROM JOIE CHITWOOD AFTER BUY OUT COMES ABOARD KOCHMAN HELL DRIVERS INSTEAD1948
1947-1948
JIMMIE LYNCH WON FAME AS AN AUTOMOBILE STUNT DRIVER DOING THE ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE. HE ALSO FINDS TIME TO SUPERVISE OPERATIONS ON HIS 2000 ACRE RANCH NEAR TEXARKANA TEXAS. PERCY THE CLOWN WHO MERRIMENT TO THE EXHIBITIONS. BOB MAYNARD AND AL GROSS ORIGINAL DEATH DODGERS.
DEAN ROBINSON 1946 Lucky Lott hell driver,
NEAL LOTT in a flaming barrel crash, Peterborough, Ontario Canada.
1944-1945-1946
ALL AMERICAN THRILL SHOW DRIVER HILLMAN c. TROUPE ASSEMBLED BY SWENSON. Also 1945 LOTT'S barrel crash at Louisville's Churhill Downs.
Aut Swenson returned to the thrill show scene in 1945. Partnering with familiar face Frank Winkley and Jerry Mariatt, the trio produced the "ALL AMERICAN THRILL DRIVERS". The show combined auto daredevil stunts with a racing program consisting of motorcycle and midget car classes.Like · 1943
JOIE CHITWOOD'S HELL ON WHEELS DEBUTES 1943.
The war in Europe curtailed auto events at Alcyone Speedway in 1942, when the O.D.T banned the use of rubber tires and gasoline in Auto Thrill Shows. Four years later, in 1946, the B. Ward Beam Thrill Show turned Alcyone into action.
'Lucky' Teter, who packed grandstands and broke attendance records with his Thrill Shows,He was kill in a fatal crash at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis in 1942, the late stunt driver's show equipment was purchased by Kochman, who debuted his World Champion Hell Drivers that summer. Teter's show was part of a benefit for the Army-Navy Medical Relief Fund. .Also in 1942,TOMMY MARCUS in a flaming barrel stunt, Chicago's Soldier Field.
The war in Europe curtailed auto events at Alcyon Speedway in 1942, when the O.D.T. banned the use of rubber tires and gasoline in Auto Thrill Shows. Four years later, in 1946, the B. Ward Beam Thrill Show returned Alcyon into action.
WARD BEAM'S 'For Good Luck, carry a 32mm round brass advertising coin with The lord's Prayer' and has Our Father on it and a car flying over a bus and states 'B.Ward Beam's World's Champions Daredevils. One of Ward Beam`s stunt the ``leap of death``as the motorcycle goes through a ring of fire.
BETTER CROOKS crashes to applause during a show in Wisconsin during the mid-40's. 
During the 1940s, Auto Thrill Shows, would be part of holiday races. They soon were able to attract enough attendance to hold mid-week shows, on their own. 1939, NEAL LOTT does a slide for life with JIMMIE LYNCH'S show. In 1939 they were brought east for the first time to appear as a special feature of the New York World Fair, where for two years they entertained more than eleven million person. 
Also JIMMIE LYNCH in a 1938 Dodge.
1935-36-37
The Death Dodgers were organized in 1935 by Jimmie Lynch. The first idea proposed testing automobiles and accessories for manufacturers, but public interest in these exhibitions was great they soon began appearing at public events, fairs and celebrations. During these early years the Death dodgers confined their tours to the middle and far west.
With the expansion of harness and auto racing, becoming more popular. Auto races were usually held on holidays during the Summer and harness races during the Grange Fair, which was held annually. Harness racing became more prevalent from the 1920s, until 1935.
A former gas station attendant, Teter had put together his Hell Drivers in the early 1930s.
``BARNEY`` OLDFIELD is the first stuntman to drive a car at 60 miles on a oval track. 1933
AUTO DAREDEVILS APPEAR FOR FIRST TIME ON STATE FAIR CIRCUIT August 1928 in Ohio
AUT SWENSON PRODUCES "AUSTYN'S GREATER FLYING CIRCUS AND MOTOR DERBY"1926 in Minnesota Based.
'B.Ward Beam's World's Champions Daredevils is credited as the originator of such a form of entertainment, debuting his Congress of Daredevils in Toledo, Ohio, in 1923. In 1928, Beam's show amazed spectators at the Ohio State Fair in Columbus, the first time an auto stunt show played a fair. Beam's Daredevils did shows in Ohio,Michigan,Indiana from the 1920's to the 1940's . preforming stunts like the Transcontinental Bus Jump, with Rollovers, T-Bones, Dive Bombers, Flying Head-ons, Side Winders, Head-ons, Solid Wall Crashes (both Brick & Ice).
Lucky Lott, 1921 
WARD BEAM STARTS PROMOTING AUTO RACE EVENTS 1914:
Auto and motorcycle match races, in the distances of one and five miles in lengths, were held. As the automobile speeds progressed, the 1/3 mile tracks narrow turns became more dangerous and a nuisance. In 1913, track-owners, George and his brother Dr. Henry Carr, enlarges the track, to 1/2 mile, five -turn speedway. The unique five-turn shape was caused by the inability to expand at either end, because of an amusement park to the East and orchards to the West. The extra distance was added to the backstretch, creating a fifth turn.


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