Thunder Road to close

In 1973, the brand new Carowinds Amusement park opened near Charlotte on the North / South Carolina border. No longer did young people have to go to Myrtle Beach for summer fun.

In 1976, they opened their brand new wooden roller coaster. Thunder Road originally had a NASCAR theme. It’s what roller coaster geeks call an “out and back”. Very simple and very boring by today’s standards. What made it unique is it played on the supposed rivalry between North and South Carolina – with side by side out and back coasters configured to “race”.

A video from 1997 shows them racing, but current ones show the two trains released independently. I suspect engineers have detected that simultaneous trains put too much stress on a 40 year old wooden coaster. It also means fewer staff can handle the loading and unloading

This coaster was likely inspired by a roller coaster of my early youth – the Racer at Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh. Kennywoods Open!

People would try to slap the hands of people in the other train. If you notice closely, you started on the left track but finished on the right track. There is no “blue side” and “red side”. The cars alternate sides. Don’t gamble on the outcome. One track is shorter than the other.

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