HH Interview
Morgan "Sam" Storm



     October-December 2006





copyright Sturgis Motorcycle Museum.com

~Marjorie Hummel~
First woman long distance rider to attend the Black Hills Motor Classic, known today as the Sturgis Rally.


copyright motordrome.org/sonny pelaquin

~Morgan “Sam” Storm~
Honored for being one of few women riding a motorcycle on the “Wall of Death”, a motor drome with 90 degree angled walls.

~Elizabeth “Boots” Buchholz~
A lifelong member of ABATE, her efforts for motorcycle rights go above and beyond the call, distinguishing her in the Freedom Fighter’s Hall of Fame at the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum.


























An Interview with
Morgan "Sam" Storm          Keeping Drome Riding History Alive
copyright Shook photography

Destiny heard Morgan “Sam” Storm’s call at the young age of 14, where an undeniable drive for excitement ran fierce through her blood. It was love at first sight when she witnessed a "Wall of Death" motor drome performance decades ago, which would seal her life's fate. Her unrelenting attribute of perseverance along with the help of an exceptional mentor, Sam continues to break barriers in the world of motorcycling.

Sam's star has shone brightly this year. This summer, she was inducted into the Sturgis Hall of Fame. In September, not only did Sam set two new land speed records at the Bonneville Salt Flats and participated in a third, she also captured the national spotlight on ABC’s Good Morning America, where she demonstrated her ability to "fly."

Keeping her sport alive is really "all in a day's work," according to Sam. Between performing her stunts on the wall and breaking records, we caught up with Sam to gain insight on her eccentric lifestyle.

Sam after she set a landspeed record at the Bonneville Salt Flats

When did you start riding?
SS: I started riding the Wall at the age of almost 15 lying for 18  (I was a tall, resourceful runaway). I guess I was looking for something - I know I needed to find something... and I met and fell in love with the Wall!

What made you start performing as a Drome rider?      SS: I saw the show for the first time at a carnival (had no idea what I was walking up into... and thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen in my life! Asked if girls could do it (always was a tomboy and worked and played in the boy's arenas). They laughed at first, but after I followed them to their next spot (packed my guitar on my bike and went after them when they left), I guess Sonny Pelaquin (my mentor & teacher) felt sorry for me and let me stay. I think they let me learn to ride to get me to quit naggin' them about it!

How do you prepare yourself before you enter the wooden wall? Any special rituals?
SS:  es. I put on my girlie best (I prefer comfortable clothes like jammies & sweats). A bit of makeup and my best girl clothes (important especially for a single, older girl), tell my dogs I love 'em, have a big glass of chocolate milk and then I'm ready. I guess there's a mind set in there somewhere as well...

photo courtesy Sam Storm

SS: What are the qualifications a person must have to become a drome rider?
SS: One has to WANT TO #1... Most people think they do until they watch from the inside...then change their mind. It's very alien in the pit. The most important thing is to be able to control your head - if you can a little - you can learn... and it makes you stronger with time! We are showmen - there to entertain the public... NOT do DRAMA. We have it for sure - but it HAS to stay behind the scenes, or you're out! No tantrums, prima donnas or showin' your butt is Sonny & my rule... but that doesn't mean other people don't operate that way! That's a personal thing - and Sonny's way kept us safe and making a living - unlike in the older days when people would fight during shows and sometimes run each other off the wall...

Have you taught other females the art of Drome riding?

SS: Yes, quite a few. Most left and got married and had kids (can't hurt the moms!). But then, someone had to stay and ride and have the dogs... and that's me! There is another gal riding in the USA now named Sandra D. She's a great girl, and an awesome rider and friend!

In your opinion, what is the future for this rare form of entertainment?
SS: I really don't know - but it won't disappear because of me! I have an old lion drome that I want to restore (at least with 24 of it's 48 walls -the drome I ride now has 20).   I moved it and was paying on it for 6 years. It is an important piece of history that should NOT have been let to rot away  (it was NOT me)! I salvaged what I could of it (quite a bit), and am at the present hoping to find a partner or partners or sponsors or whatever it takes to get the job done! I'd like to do benefits for animals and kids and the like, as well as maybe try to scratch a living out of it. It's how I'd like to end up.     I do better when I have my own show. I can make a living and keep all my riders safe, and it seems to just work out better... less hatred and discontent among the troops, as it were...being a female and all... 

When you take a spill, how do you physically and mentally recover to go back and do it all over again?
SS: Physically, one has to be strong and lucky, I guess.   I drink a lot of milk (always have - I like it and it helps with the dizziness), and my bones are strong. Also, one gets strong riding in the drome under the Gs, and I've been in there my whole life. Having no insurance, I got lucky finding an angel doctor who put me back together "on the cuff" for a teaching hospital he was affiliated with (still haven't figured out how to thank him for that). I do my own rehab - I'm probably harder on myself than a therapist would be... but again there's that discipline thing with your mind. Mentally, for me, there's nothing so far - just the wanting' to hurry up and heal so I can get back to riding! Maybe someday I'll get on the bike... say, "Nah!", park it and walk away...but I don't feel that way now, nor has it ever crossed my mind to leave. Not for an accident.

photo courtesy Sam Storm


How do you feel when you are on the wall, what kind of thoughts/feelings are going through your head?
SS: Happy. Safe. Centered. Graceful. Pretty. Productive. Positive. All the things I struggle with when I'm on the ground, not at the drome. Up on the wall is my best and strongest place. I'm kind of hyper/scattered... and it feels as if all the different parts of me come together when I'm riding. It's where my self esteem lives. The people reacting to it with all the positive excitement and joy they give us back is a big part of it as well. To make everyone happy with what you do is a powerful incentive. Everyone leaves the show happy and enthusiastic (and many have just seen it for the first time!).


Which stunt is your favorite to perform and why? Favorite motorcycle?                                                            SS: I like sidesaddles up & down, but for up, the bike has to be really right on, and they are not always. I think my favorite one may be the front leafspring stand (only can be done on an Indian with a leafspring. One foot on the footplate, one over the handlebars on the leafspring - lunge forward with arms outstretched. Very pretty trick. That one I've done. I always wanted to ride backwards, though. I can do it on the bally bike (stage bike on the rollers out front), but I never rode an Indian on the wall long enough to get the time in to try it. I rode 13 years on the small bikes before I got my first Indian... and then the owner hired a guy who would only ride if he was trickrider - so there went my bike & my job as trickrider, which I'd been for years. I just wanted to ride, and if that's what it took... you know, sometimes we have to do things just 'cause. Favorite bike - the 101 Indian Scout, of course! Best balanced and handling bike for acrobatics on a wooden wall!

What other types of motorcycling do you enjoy?
SS: All types, pretty much... I like freestyle motocross, trials, street riding as well -my street bike is a modified 1928 101 Indian Scout named Lily. I enjoy racing also (especially vintage) - on a track though - not in the street! Cars, etc., take the fun out of that for me.

What keeps you grounded, inspires your spirit? (Think mind, body, soul)
                                                                  SS: The history of the wall. The spirit and stories of where and how and why they came into being. They shut down the old board track racetracks ('cause of too many accidents), but the riders couldn't be kept down, and that's really how the first of the wall shows started in earnest. The race riders from all the years back then who innovated and developed the shows to the spectaculars they were to become, as well as the lions who joined them on the wall and in the acts. Those people were adventurers in unknown territory.. unafraid and fearless! To come up with this sport and the acts and acrobatics, and to keep pushing the envelope! Walls almost died out and it was still going on...This part of wall history is my passion. No one today will ever know about all that was... and it will never be seen again. I was born too late - after it was all but over, and all the cats gone. I was lucky enough to have been under the tutelage of Sonny Pelaquin, who grew up and rode with his family in a lion drome (his dad was one of the first pioneers of the sport). Sonny loved to ride (always laughed when he did) and had no ego for himself - he was proud of us all and just wanted us safe! He taught us the way his dad taught him (not just how to ride, but how to BE).       I grew up with the stories and pictures of Sonny & his family and the cats he loved so much! They are with me always, and it is to the memory of all they were and all they did, that I credit everything that I have done and that I am.




Samantha Morgan Storm
aka Marsha Green
June 2, 1953~April 24,2008
On April 24, 2008 the motorcycle community lost Wall of Death icon, Sam Morgan Storm. She passed away at age 53 due to complications from back injuries caused by her legendary career. Sam will be incredibly missed by all, her spirit will continue to be an inspiration to women riders on and off the Motordrome. Take a moment to view this prophetic interview video of Sam:


Watch Sam's TV clip from ABC's
Good Morning America
copyright Shook photography



Interview Archives:

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           Paula Johnson-        Riding for Africa


Tribute: AMA Women's Motorcycle Conference 2006


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