The end of an era: Thunder Road to close in July

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The story

The classic Carowinds wooden roller coaster Thunder Road will make its final circuit July 26.

It is being retired to make room for future growth, part of a $50 million multi-year investment plan that includes the new Fury 325.

Sure, there are shiny new coasters at the park and Thunder Road has seen better days — it’s a bit of a jerky, bumpy ride — but I’ll be sad to see the old-school coaster go.

The ride has been a part of countless childhood memories. A friend waxed poetic on the ride for a solid five minutes when I told him it was closing. I wish I’d recorded it. It was beautiful.

Thunder Road Fun Facts

– The coaster was built in 1976 using 539,000 feet of treated wood at a cost of $1.6 million.

– It was named after the 1958 movie “Thunder Road” starring Robert Mitchum.

– Thunder Road weaves in and out of North and South Carolina.

– From 1995 to 2008, one of the two parallel racing trains faced backward. I remember riding it backward in high school. Scared me to death.

– It was modeled after the Racer, a wooden racing coaster at Kings Island in Ohio.

– In 39 years, Thunder Road has taken nearly 40 million rides.

– The ride lasts 2 minutes and 10 seconds, features a 93-foot drop and reaches speeds up to 45 mph. That’s it? Feels faster.

Twitter reactions

C5’s take

Coaster enthusiasts have started a petition to save the coaster. I don’t know if it will work, so I’ll be making a trip (or seven) to the park to ride the coaster before July 26.


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Corey Inscoe is editor of CharlotteFive. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyInscoe.

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