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


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.


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


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