May 31, 1930|
|Died||September 26, 2011
|Occupation||Roller coaster designer|
|Known for||Arrow Dynamics|
Ron Toomer (birth name: Ronald Valentine Toomer) (May 31, 1930 – September 26, 2011) was an American roller coaster designer credited for designing 93 roller coasters around the world. He graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1961 with a degree in mechanical engineering and was a part of the design team responsible for the Apollo spacecraft heat shield.
Ron Toomer was hired by Arrow Development founders Karl Bacon and Ed Morgan in 1965 to help design a mine train ride called Run-A-Way Mine Train at Six Flags Over Texas. It opened in 1966 utilizing the tubular steel rail technology that had been developed by Arrow for Disneyland's Matterhorn Bobsleds. The concept caught on quickly and Toomer designed 15 more mine train coasters for Arrow. All but one still operate today. Following almost four years of development, Toomer introduced the modern looping roller coaster in 1975 with the opening of Corkscrew, the first in the world with two inversions, at Knott's Berry Farm. Knott's is credited with having the first, but three more identical coasters opened later that same year. The following year he introduced the familiar Arrow teardrop-shaped vertical loop on a custom corkscrew coaster at Cedar Point amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. At Cedar Point in 1989, Toomer unveiled the first roller coaster to top 200 feet (61 m) known as Magnum XL-200.
In 1981, Arrow Development was purchased by Huss Maschinenfabrik, which merged with Arrow Development to form Arrow-Huss. Toomer was made vice president and manager of engineering. In 1986, 13 of the company's American officers negotiated a buyout, and formed Arrow Dynamics to which Toomer was named president. In 1993 he was promoted to chairman of the board then became a consulting director in 1995. Toomer retired from Arrow Dynamics in 1998.
Although Toomer primarily designed coasters for Arrow, he also assisted with some of the other Arrow products, which included providing structural engineering for the company's Log Flumes.
A common misconception is the Ron Toomer never rode any of his rides. Although he did suffer from motion sickness, he would ride a coaster once, maybe twice. He was quoted as saying "I've ridden enough to know what they are like."
Ron Toomer's designs were highly innovative with many of his coasters breaking records. Notable designs include:
- Runaway Mine Train (Six Flags Over Texas), first mine train type coaster.
- Roaring 20's Corkscrew, (Knott's Berry Farm), first coaster with two inversions.
- Corkscrew (Cedar Point), first with three inversions.
- Carolina Cyclone (Carowinds), first with four inversions.
- Viper (Darien Lake), first with five inversions.
- Vortex (Kings Island), first with six inversions.
- Shockwave (Six Flags Great America), first with seven inversions.
- Motorcycle Chase (Knott's Berry Farm), first modern-day steeplechase coaster.
- Loch Ness Monster (Busch Gardens Williamsburg), first with interlocking vertical loops.
- Orient Express (Worlds of Fun), introduced the Arrow Boomerang Element, originally called a Kamikaze Curve.
- The Bat (Kings Island), prototype suspended coaster, although not the first suspended, it was the first in an amusement park.
- Gemini (Cedar Point), only Arrow racing coaster, record breaking height when opened.
- Magnum XL-200 (Cedar Point), first to exceed 200 feet.
In 2000 Ron Toomer was inducted into the IAAPA Hall of Fame as a Living Legend.
- Rutherford, Scott (November 2011), "Industry legend, roller coaster designer Ton Toomer dies at 81", Amusement Today 15 (8.1): 33–35
- Seifert, Jeffrey (December 2011), "Ron Toomer 1930-2011", ACE News 24 (2): 3
- "Roller Coaster Search Results, Title=Mine Train". Retrieved January 26, 2012.
- "Arrow Legend Ron Toomer Passes Away". NewsPlusNotes. September 27, 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2012.
- Rush, Jan (2007). "100 Moments in Roller Coaster History: Runaway Mine Train". RollerCoaster! Magazine 28 (2): 18. ISSN 0896-7261.
- Scheinin, Lisa (2007). "100 Moments in Roller Coaster History: The First Corkscrew". RollerCoaster! Magazine 28 (2): 18. ISSN 0896-7261.
- Seifert, Jeffrey (2006). "Arrow". RollerCoaster! Magazine 27 (4): 12–13. ISSN 0896-7261.
- Rush, Jan (2007). "100 Moments in Roller Coaster History: The First Modern Steeplechase Coaster". RollerCoaster! Magazine 28 (2): 19. ISSN 0896-7261.
- Baldwin, Tim (2006). "In Suspense, the Contemporary Suspended Coaster Celebrates a 25th Anniversary". RollerCoaster! Magazine 27 (4): 15–19. ISSN 0896-7261.
- Rush, Jan (2007). "100 Moments in Roller Coaster History: Gemini". RollerCoaster! Magazine 28 (2): 18. ISSN 0896-7261.
- Rueben, Paul (2007). "100 Moments in Roller Coaster History: Magnum XL-200 breaks the Height Barrier". RollerCoaster! Magazine 28 (2): 39. ISSN 0896-7261.
- "Coaster Landmark Awards". Retrieved January 24, 2012.