KINGS ISLAND, Ohio – “It rides like a baby coach.”
That was the opinion of the renowned John Allen of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, who’s “baby” was the Racer roller coaster at Kings Island.
The Racer – really its twin racers – has been the focal point of the Coney Mall sector since opening with the park in 1972, and with good reason. The Racer is credited for re-igniting the roller coaster building boom in the early 1970’s, thus beginning the second golden age of the roller coaster.
This summer, the Racer will give its 100-millionth ride, far and away the most in park history. Its record year was 1976, when a park record 3,681,338 rides were given.
In addition to being considered an important part of the roller coaster renaissance of the 1970’s, the Racer was the sight of several world-record riding attempts and is notable for its appearance in the “Cincinnati Kids” episode of The Brady Bunch, filmed at Kings Island in 1973. On May 28, 1982, one side of the Racer became the world’s first full-length, backwards traveling roller coaster (both sides now face forward).
Kings Island officials coaxed Allen out of semi-retirement for the task of designing the Racer. He started to design the ride’s blueprints in 1969. Actual construction began in September, 1970. The first test run came in September, 1971. It worked perfectly the first time as Allen had predicted it would.
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.
There’s more than 600,000 board feet of lumber in the ride. Nobody knows how many nails. The construction crew started with 6,000 tons of nails which lasted only 60 days.
Kings Island opens for the 2014 season Friday, April 18. Daily Operation begins Friday, May 9.
Kings Island is owned and operated by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company, a publicly traded partnership that is listed for trading on The New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “FUN.” In addition to Kings Island, Cedar Fair owns and operates ten other amusement parks, three outdoor water parks, an indoor water park, and five hotels. Cedar Fair also operates the Gilroy Gardens Family Theme Park in Gilroy, Calif. under a management contract.