Carowinds prepares to close Thunder Road

Coaster fans try to stop closing of ride

FORT MILL, SC (WBTV) - The name "Thunder Road" conjures up all kinds of memories for people across the Carolinas. Fans have a shared experience with nearly 40 million other Carowinds park-goers from the past four decades.

"To me, Thunder Road is about the clickety-clack of going up the big hill," said Carowinds visitor Jason Waldrop, who enjoyed the roller coaster as a kid.

Thunder Road is about what we hear and feel.

"It's the big drop," said 13-year-old Logan Tran.

"Something about a wooden roller coaster reminds me of my childhood," said Thomas Gay, who came to the park with his daughter. Gay said he also appreciated Carowinds providing free entrance to veterans like himself on Memorial Day.

Gay said losing Thunder Road made him feel sad. For a lot of people, the memories flash back faster than the cars go around the track.

"I didn't remember it being that fast. It was really fast!" said Tiani Gay. She said Thunder Road reminds her of waiting in line with her parents at the age of ten. When the ride was over, they would go get ice cream.

"It's like a whole memory with it," she said.

Carowinds officials say the wooden roller coaster will be retired July 26 after nearly 40 years. The closing is part of a multi-million dollar improvement project.

Carowinds is mum on what's next for the site. There will be a send-off for Thunder Road over the next several weeks.

An online petition aimed at showing public support to save the roller coaster surpassed 2,000 signatures Monday afternoon. Carowinds officials say the nostalgia and memories are wonderful to share, but the plan to close Thunder Road is not changing.

Here are some facts about the roller coaster:

  • Thunder Road was built using 539,000 feet of treated wood at a cost of $1.6 million.
  • Thunder Road is modeled after the Racer, another classic wooden racing coaster at sister park Kings Island in Ohio.
  • Thunder Road was originally covered in 5,500 gallons of red, white and blue paint.
  • From 1995 to 2008, one of the trains faced backward giving riders an even greater thrill.

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