MORGAN "SAM" STORM & SONNY PELAQUIN
Hall of Fame Inductees 2006
When board tracks were outlawed for being too dangerous in the mid-1920’s, thrill seekers with a need for speed filled the void with motor dromes. More commonly known as the “Wall of Death”, the motor drome was a portable race track, made of wood in the shape of a bowl. Today’s motor dromes push the envelope with walls banked at an amazing 90 degrees. Drome riding was popular from the 20s through the 50s and were a big draw at traveling carnival shows.
Sonny Pelaquin was born in to a family of wall riders – with a twist. Owners of one of the few remaining Motor Dromes in the United State, the Pelaquin family incorporated lions in their act, lions riding in sidecars on a 90 degree wall, going very fast. Sonny was an extremely talented rider and was chosen to do the stunt riding for Elvis Presley in the 1964 film Roustabout.
When Sonny took over the business drome riding had begun to change. Dromes were fading, partially due to safety concerns and Sonny understood that if he was to keep the sport alive, changes would need to be made. It was no longer appropriate for the team to live the rowdy lifestyle; he demanded professionalism, unimpaired riding, safe riding and excellence in showmanship. Due to his foresight and mentoring his show succeeded and Sonny was able to stay in the business longer than any of his predecessors, with one exception.
Sonny’s protégé, Morgan “Sam” Storm, joined him at the tender age of 14. Under Sonny’s tutelage Sam learned to harness her passion, control her adrenalin and to focus. Always the perfectionist and consistently safety conscious, Sonny guided Sam through years of grueling training, honing her skills and strengthening her confidence.
Sam grew to adulthood in the drome. Being a part of the lifestyle is not for the faint of heart. She slept in the drome, set it up, tore it down, maintained her vintage bikes, all while riding in 4 shows in the course of 16 hour days. Sam recalls that she fell in love with riding the barrel the first time she “saw that guy riding a bike on the side of a 90 degree wall, and I knew what I wanted to do with my life.” Sam has broken her back three times and survived many frightening tumbles, but nothing can diminish her passion and love of riding the wall.
Sam has traveled around the world, sharing her unique gift and love of motorcycling with the people she meets along the way. She is respected by her piers and considered one of the top extreme sport performers in the motor drome business today. “The smiles these folks give us, and the memories they take away, are a testimony to the talent and daring of all those many riders who came before…and to the few who remain, still riding high on the wall.”