There may be more attention focused on other roller coasters these days at Kings Island than on the Racer, but once upon a time it was the most talked about ride in the industry.
The Racer was the first roller coaster that I ever rode and while bigger, faster, longer and more thrilling rides have opened at Kings Island, it will always hold a special place in my heart and in the hearts of true roller coaster enthusiasts for a variety of reasons.
Who can say how many roller coasters would have been built if the Racer had not paved the way? People throughout the industry scoffed at what Kings Island was doing, building a roller coaster. The Racer's instant popularity, however, proved there was still great interest in roller coasters and thus launching the second Golden Age of the roller coaster.
Here are nine things you may not know about the Racer:
- John Allen of the Philadelphia Toboggan Co. was asked about the possibility of building a new roller coaster for Kings Island when plans to build the park began in 1969. He accepted and was commissioned to design and supervise the construction which began in 1970. His design was truly inspirational, a twin-tracked, out and back racing coaster, unlike no other ever built.
- The Racer was the first roller coaster built structurally on the ground with prefabricated sections lifted into position and bolted. It was one of the largest roller coasters ever built at the time, and the largest that Allen had built. He considered the Racer to be the finest roller coaster he ever built. And, he built a lot of them!
- Authorities credit the Racer as the inspiration for what has been developed and built since the destructive period from 1945 to 1970, a time when most of the greatest roller coasters ever conceived fell victim to the wrecker’s ball.
- Kings Island management, in one of the industry's best moves, got exactly what they needed in the Racer. In one coaster they had: high capacity, graceful aesthetics, and one of the best rides in the country.
- In addition to unusual characteristics, such as the spectacular track split at the turnaround and a total of over 1,200 feet of weightlessness (negative G’s), the Racer acted as a catalyst for other potential high-capacity racing coasters including Racer 75 at Kings Dominion and Gemini at Cedar Point.
- In addition to being considered an important part of the roller coaster renaissance of the 1970’s, the Racer was 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.
- On May 28, 1982, one side of the Racer was transformed into the world’s first full-length, backwards travelling roller coaster (both sides now face forward).
- The Racer has given a park record 106 million rides since its debut in 1972.
- In 1976, the Racer gave 3.6 million rides – the most rides given in one season by a Kings Island attraction.
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