"Speak Out" is an expression of opinion from the Editorial Board of WBTV, and is presented by General Manager, Nick Simonette.
For more than 40 years, Carowinds has been a major tourist attraction for people in our area.
The theme park opened its gates on the North and South Carolina border in 1973.
And within about a year, more than a million visitors had filed through the turnstiles.
There were some early financial challenges.
But a thrilling new roller coaster helped pack the park and really got people’s hearts racing.
“Thunder Road” debuted in 1976, and was an immediate hit.
The name came from a 1950s movie that showed the excitement of high-speed moonshine running.
It featured two trains racing along on parallel tracks on a massive wooden frame.
At times they both went forward; at others, one ran forward while the other ran backward.
Well, after 39 years and more than 40 million riders, Thunder Road will make its final run this Sunday.
It’s been a source of shared fun and pumping adrenaline for at least three generations.
Newer coasters may be faster, taller, offer more twists and turns.
But none have quite the feel of the furious clickety-clack, ups and downs, and hairpin turns of the original.
Thanks for the memories. And if you’d like to give it a try for one last time, remember this slogan:
Grit Your Teeth,
Bear the Load,
Enjoy Your Ride
On Thunder Road.