On Friday August 8th 2014. Angel Marshall of Chattanooga, TN received a big surprise after riding the King's Island Racer. She became the official 100 Millionth rider, of one of the few remaining original attractions dating back to Opening Day, April 29, 1972. The Racer is generally credited with kicking off the Second Golden Age of roller coasters, after decades of decline.
Even though the Wach's family sold Cincinnati Coney Island to Taft Broadcasting in 1969, they still were involved with the moving of the park to the present location in Kings Mill, OH for the 1972 season. The Racer, which was destined to be the signature attraction for the new Kings Island park when it officially opened on May 27, 1972. This signed advertised both the new ride and the new park at Coney Island during Kings Islands construction.
John Allen, the last remaining designer from the First Golden Age, had already retired in 1968 due to the decline in popularity of wooden roller coasters. But, Kings Island officials were able to coax Allen out of semi-retirement, for the task of designing the Racer. He started drawing up the blueprints in 1969.
With this old photo, you can see that construction has progressed well, due to assembling prefabricated structures on the ground and lifting them into place. You can also see the kiddie coaster, the antiques cars tracks, and the iconic Eiffel Tower. The actual construction took twelve months, There’s more than 600,000 board feet of lumber and the first 6,000 tons of nail lasted only sixty days.
With first drop of over eighty-two feet, Racer, actually twin racers, speeds along 3,415 feet of track for a two minute ride.
Here the Banana Splits, an old Kings Island mascots, are winning the race against the Red Racer in the background. Both trains faces forward, and in 1973, the "The Cincinnati Kids" episode was filmed at the park, featuring the Racer. Both trains were still running forwards at that time.
On May 28, 1982, the trains on the south side were reversed, so guests could choose to either "See what's coming up," on one side, or "See what happened," on the other side. It was only planned for the 1982 season, but it remained so popular that the option to ride backwards was kept until the trains were turned back forwards by Cedar Fair in 2008 after a twenty-six year run. The traditional art deco station has long been one of the most beautiful buildings in the park.
Looking at the signs and the top of the lift, the trains are still traveling in opposing directions while they continue to race. For many years, the backwards Racer, or "Recar," to locals, far dominated as the choice of the guests.
The signature air time of Racer has always been its strong point, although it was reduced by one hill for the entrance pathway to Flight of Fear in 1996. Racer stills delivers excellent airtime, and continues to be one of Kings island more popular rides.
The Days of Thunder Action Theatre was installed between the turnarounds for the 1994 season. The split turnaround was a first for a racing coaster, because before Racer the tracks were kept close to each other.
The American Coaster Enthusiasts recognized the importance of Kings Island's Racer as a Roller Coaster Landmark in 2007. Congratulations to Kings Island, for retaining this classic, and here's hoping we will celebrate the 200 Millionth rider sometime in the near future.