In an effort to recognize and promote rides that are noteworthy in roller coaster history, the American Coaster Enthusiasts (ACE) Roller Coaster Landmark program was established in 2000. This special designation is reserved for rides of historical significance, as determined by ACE.
Two of Kings Island’s most iconic roller coasters, The Beast and The Racer, are part of an elite group on ACE’s Landmark list of storied attractions that include Coney Island’s 1927 Cyclone, Disneyland’s 1950 Matterhorn Bobsleds and the 1902 Leap-the-Dips in Pennsylvania, the world’s oldest operating roller coaster.
The Beast was granted landmark status during the ride’s 25th anniversary season in 2004. It’s opening in 1979 shook the roller coaster world to its very foundations, breaking all existing records as the longest, the fastest and, well, just plain baddest ride in the world. In roller coasters, there had been nothing else like it anywhere and it took riders to a place they’d never been before, delivering the next level of big thrill, adrenaline-pumping excitement. For sheer size, speed and thrills, The Beast stood alone in a class by itself.
The record-breaking features of The Beast included a 7,359-foot long track (1.4 miles) and ride time of four minutes, 10 seconds; vertical drops of 135 feet (at a 45-degree angle) and 141 feet (at an 18-degree angle); a 125-foot long underground tunnel at the bottom of the 135-foot drop; eight banked turns, some to 45 degrees; a massive, 540-degree helix tunnel near the end and speeds up to 64.77 miles per hour.
There may be more attention focused on other roller coasters these days at Kings Island and throughout the industry than the Racer, but once upon a time it was the most talked about ride in America.
Prior to the Racer, the demand for roller coasters, and more specifically wooden roller coasters, had been in decline since the Great Depression. Literally hundreds of roller coaster built from 1890-1930 met the fate of the wrecking ball. By 1965, only about 200 of the 2,000 roller coasters built through the 1920s remained in operation. Then along came the Racer with the opening of Kings Island in 1972. The ride’s instant popularity rekindled America’s interest in roller coasters, sparking the “second golden age” of the roller coaster.
The Racer acted as the catalyst for other potential high-capacity racing coasters including Racer 75 (formerly Rebel Yell) at Kings Dominion and Gemini at Cedar Point. It has also been the site of several world-record riding attempts and is notable for its appearance in the “Cincinnati Kids” episode of The Brady Bunch, filmed at the park in 1973. In 1982, one side of the Racer was transformed into the world’s first full-length, backwards traveling roller coaster, offering a unique ride experience that lasted for 26 seasons.
Who can say how many roller coasters would have been built if the Racer had not paved the way?
Founded in 1978, American Coaster Enthusiasts is a nonprofit organization of more than 6,500 members from 16 countries. making it the world's largest enthusiast organization.
Among ACE members are the most educated, dedicated, and passionate amusement park guests. ACE’s activities are extensive and include award-winning publications, action-packed events, and exhaustive preservation efforts. ACE is highly visible in the mainstream media. Local television stations and newspapers often consider ACE events in their area to be major news items. ACE members are frequently on hand for the debut of major new roller coasters at amusement and theme parks. In addition, numerous shows made for television networks such as The Discovery Channel have prominently featured ACE. Ultimately, ACE’s mission is to promote and enjoy roller coasters everywhere, regardless of type or size.
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