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IRS man got his fill of ups and downs on The Beast

Don Helbig

Area Manager, Digital Marketing - Kings Island

Twitter: @DonHelbig

When most people think of an Internal Revenue Service employee, they envision a no-nonsense, grim type of individual. Carl Eichelman, however, was not your average tax man. The Toledo, Ohio native was an extroverted, uninhibited, fun-loving, ingenuous individual who accrued a Beast-record 4,400 rides from 1979 to 1985.

Carl, who passed away in 2017 at the age of 77, was the original Beast tamer. His travels on The Beast took him over 6,100 miles, careening over hills and slicing through densely wooded terrain along 7,359 feet of track at speeds up to 65 mph. In total, he spent over 360 hours (or roughly 15 days) of his life on a Beast train.

Carl first became intrigued about The Beast almost a year before the ride opened in the summer of 1978 when he saw aerial construction footage on a Dayton TV news station (WDTN). He began contacting Kings Island asking for construction updates, initially every couple weeks and then multiple times a week. Ruth Voss, Kings Island’s public relations manager at the time, fielded most of Carl’s inquiries, eventually telling him, “We can’t tell you how many bolts we put in since yesterday.”

His interest in The Beast was noted by Ruth and other Kings Island officials, and he was extended an invitation to attend media day on April 13, 1979. He rode the coaster six times that day, all in the pouring rain, but he didn’t care. He came off soaked after his first ride and thought since he was soaked, he’d just keep riding. There were several phones in the Beast station for media to call back to their station, so he would call a couple of people at the IRS and hold the phone out as the train would come back into the station and say: “Here it comes! Listen!”

Soon he found himself riding The Beast daily, riding 530 times in 1979 and 1,230 times in 1980. By the time he reached 2,000 rides in 1981, he had become somewhat of a celebrity, doing literally hundreds of TV, newspaper, magazine and radio interviews from coast-to-coast about his unusual hobby riding the same roller coaster over and over. His excitement and passion for The Beast was genuine and came shining through in every interview he did and with everyone he spoke to about the ride.

Carl was recognized in 1981 in an Ohio Senate resolution after he reached the 2,000-ride mark on The Beast, making him the only person in America who has ever been honored by a state Senate for coasting through life.

State Senator Cooper Snyder couldn’t resist the temptation to drag out a batch of roller coaster puns when he drafted the resolution to honor Eichelman.

“Carl Eichelman is, indeed, a remarkable individual, combining limitless energy and enthusiasm with personal motivation in the single-minded pursuit of this outstanding record.

“In these times of rapidly accelerating world events and a plunging economy, it is heartening to be able to look up to Carl Eichelman as he reached the pinnacle of success of achievement in his special pursuit of tracking America’s roller coasters.”

It has been almost 34 years since Carl Eichelman last visited Kings Island almost daily to ride The Beast. Time has not diminished what he accomplished. His legacy will always be part of the history of The Beast.

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Don Helbig

Area Manager, Digital Marketing - Kings Island

Twitter: @DonHelbig

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