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Racer makes coaster history

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Source: http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/art...EWS01/706180378

 

Racer makes coaster history

Coaster fan club names classic Kings Island ride a 'landmark'

BY BEN FISCHER | BFISCHER@ENQUIRER.COM

 

Some of the world's most discriminating roller coaster riders hopped on the Racer at Kings Island on Sunday, knowledgeably sharing notes on other parks' sleek new rides they've seen this season.

 

Back-to-back rides later, the riders - all members of the American Coaster Enthusiasts club - gave the 35-year-old Racer rave reviews.

 

"It's still one of the top 50 wooden coasters," said an exhilarated Dave Lucas of Bridgeville, Pa., as the carspulled to a stop and seat restraints unlatched.

 

To honor the Racer's staying power and place in American theme park lore, the Enthusiasts will name the ride an "ACE Roller Coaster Landmark" during a ceremony today at the park.

 

Club officials and Kings Island executives will unveil a bronze marker near the entrance to the Racer imprinted with a brief history of the ride.

 

The Racer joins the Beast, a Kings Island coaster honored in 2004, among the group's honored rides. Landmark status goes to historically significant coasters that don't qualify for the club's more limited "American Coaster Classics," which usually are vintage rides that predate modern parks.

 

Club members credit the Racer's early popularity with helping trigger a rebirth in wooden coasters.

 

"If it wasn't for this, we wouldn't have the Beast," said club member Bob Redman of Charleston, W.Va.

 

Kings Island is the first park to have two rides earn landmark status, said ACE president Mark Cole. The club has named 14 landmark coasters to date.

 

"It's a very traditional ride. It's one of those things that endures the test of time," said club secretary Bill Linkenheimer. "It's a tradition like baseball and the Fourth of July picnic."

 

ACE is holding its annual convention at the park this week, a four-day event for roughly 530 members from 35 states and three other countries.

 

The group will share coaster reviews and enter its own coaster photos and videos into club contests. Members also will get behind-the-scenes tours of some rides.

 

But mostly, ACE members look forward to "exclusive ride time" - off-peak hours when club members get unlimited access to roller coasters.

 

The wooden Racer is hardly the fastest, longest or flashiest ride at Kings Island. But like all wooden coasters, it brings a certain something to even the most jaded coaster riders.

 

"The steel coasters are more controlled, feel more well-engineered," said ACE member Mike Matscherz of Allison Park, Pa. "But wood coasters feel more fun."

 

The Racer Historical Marker

 

Kings Island opened April 29, 1972, surpassing Cincinnati's beloved Coney Island, which endured periodic flooding from the Ohio River. For the new park, the signature attraction was The Racer, an 88-foot-high, twin-tracked wooden roller coaster whose design was inspired by the venerable Coney Island Shooting Star (1947-1971). Engineered by John C. Allen and built by James L. Martz, its two tracks totaled 6,830 feet in length, with an initial drop of 82 feet, 2 inches. Constructed at a cost of $1.2 million by park contractors, modified versions of the ride were eventually built at two other parks.

 

In addition to being considered an important part of the coaster renaissance of the 1970s, The Racer was the site of several world record riding attempts and might be best remembered in a television episode of "The Brady Bunch." On May 28, 1982, it became the first racing coaster to run trains backward.

 

Highly rated among riders of all ages for its classic ride experience, The Racer remains an integral part of Kings Island's collection of roller coasters.

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That's awesome that KI gets to be the only park with two landmarks. I didn't even see the historical marker today. I'll have to look for it next time. I had little kids shoving behind me at the entrance :angry:

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That's awesome. The Racer was my first real coaster and I spent an entire summer riding backwards because I was afraid to see where I was going. LOL. The picture of the empty queue bums me out though. Back in my day (yes, I'm "older") that queue line was always full. It's nice to be able to just walk on rides but at the same time it's depressing to think that not everyone appreciates a great ride like this one.

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