Thunder Road (roller coaster)

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Thunder Road
PCW-Thunder Road.jpg
Thunder Road from the parking lot
Park section County Fair
Coordinates 35°06′01″N 80°56′33″W / 35.1004°N 80.9426°W / 35.1004; -80.9426Coordinates: 35°06′01″N 80°56′33″W / 35.1004°N 80.9426°W / 35.1004; -80.9426
Status Removed
Opening date 1976 (1976)
Closing date July 26, 2015 (2015-07-26)
Cost $1,600,000
Replaced by Carolina Harbor
General Statistics
Type Wood – Racing
Manufacturer Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters
Designer Curtis D. Summers
Track layout Out and back
Lift/launch system Chain
North Carolina (Blue) South Carolina (Grey)
Height 93 ft (28.3 m) 93 ft (28.3 m)
Drop 88 ft (26.8 m) 88 ft (26.8 m)
Length 3,819 ft (1,164.0 m) 3,819 ft (1,164.0 m)
Speed 58 mph (93.3 km/h) 58 mph (93.3 km/h)
Inversions 0 0
Duration 2:10 2:10
G-force 3.4 3.4
Height restriction 48 in (122 cm)
Thunder Road at RCDB
Pictures of Thunder Road at RCDB

Thunder Road was a wooden roller coaster located at Carowinds amusement park on the border between Fort Mill, South Carolina, and Charlotte, North Carolina. Opened in 1976 and built by Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters, the racing roller coaster cost $1.6 million to construct and featured two identical tracks that paralleled each other. The design of the ride was based on Rebel Yell (now Racer 75), a wooden racing coaster at Kings Dominion in Doswell, Virginia. Thunder Road was closed on July 26, 2015, to make room for expansion at the park. On August 27, 2015, Carowinds announced that the Boomerang Bay waterpark would be expanded and renamed Carolina Harbor. The expansion resulted in the removal of Thunder Road.


Thunder Road was named and originally themed after the 1958 movie, Thunder Road. NASCAR celebrities Bobby Allison and David Pearson, along with major newspapers from around the country, were at Carowinds for the grand opening. Thunder Road was originally painted red, white, and blue. Two moonshine stills were originally placed at the entrance but have since been removed.[1]

The ride originally featured trains from the Jetstream, a roller coaster at Chicago's defunct Riverview Park. For use on Thunder Road, the trains were themed to resemble a Sheriff's car and an Outlaw's car to fit the coaster's original theme. The Riverview trains were retired in 1980 and replaced with new, higher-capacity Philadelphia Toboggan Coasters trains.

Thunder Road's trains all faced forward until one side was reversed in 1995 to run backwards. During the 1995-96 off season, the air conditioners and decorative memorabilia in the waiting area were removed. In 2008, all trains were turned to face forward once again. Portions of the track were also refurbished in 2008 and 2009. In May 2015, Carowinds announced that they would be closing Thunder Road permanently on July 26, 2015, to make room for future expansion.[1] The roller coaster was demolished in August 2015.[2]

Ride Layout[edit]

Thunder Road featured a doubled layout with twin trains that ran simultaneously, each on one of the two separate, mirrored tracks. As the trains left the station, they embarked on a gentle downward turn in opposite directions that went out under the brake run. Both tracks met back up to ascend the chain lift hill 93 feet (28 m). As the trains climbed side-by-side, riders passed five sequential signs posted between the two tracks that together read: "Grit your teeth / Bear the load / Enjoy your ride / On Thunder Road / Burma-Shave."[3] The trains "raced" down the initial drop of 88 feet (27 m) and over several medium-sized air-time hills before entering the turnaround section of the track farthest from the station. There the tracks diverged outward, and each train circled back independently toward the station, traveling across more small air-time hills and into the final tunnel-covered hill. Exiting the tunnel, the tracks converged again at last as they reached the final brake run back into the station.


On April 5, 1999, a train collided with another, leaving seven people injured. Sensors on the ride were then replaced, opening the ride again.[4]

Construction data[edit]

  • 500,000 board feet (1200 m³) of treated wood
  • 60-70 tons of nails, bolts, and track
  • 5,500 US gallons (21 m³) of paint (most parts with paint have been replaced)


  1. ^ a b "Carowinds closing Thunder Road roller coaster". The Charlotte Observer. May 23, 2015. Retrieved May 24, 2015.
  2. ^ "'Thunder Road' demolished after nearly 40 years". August 13, 2015. Retrieved September 2, 2015.
  3. ^ "Carowinds: The Early Years". 2017-11-11. Retrieved 2019-07-10.
  4. ^ "Accidents Involving Injuries at Carowinds". Theme Park Insider. 1999-04-05. Retrieved 2011-08-14.

External links[edit]