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.
there were tuesdays as a kid that i rode thunder road for hours. “you going again?” “yep.” one (12) final rides, @lindsaybiggers?
— Lauren Biggers (@laurenbiggers) May 25, 2015
Thunder Road is closing at Carowinds? I am not complaining about that. That and its whiplash will not be wept over. — The Rogue Report (@thejournalist44) May 24, 2015
The real Thunder Road for people my age died when they took away the backwards option https://t.co/zH685aUxxX
— Ivan Corriher (@IWCorriher) May 23, 2015
Thunder Road may no longer be the ride it once was, but it is one of the park’s icons and is a part of the childhood memories of many
— Carowinds Connection (@carowindsfans) May 23, 2015
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.