Derby Racers

Wednesday, August 12, 2015 12:50 AM

We all know that there are only 2 in the USA, but how many are left operating in the rest of the world? According to this: http://www.ridezone.com/rides/derbyracer/ There is only 1 more, at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. Is this true? Are there similar rides made by other companies than P+C? Google search turns up limited results, usually just the 2 at CP and Rye.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015 9:29 AM

As far as I know, those are the three remaining. At last check, BPPB's has the organ music, Rye's (still?) has the best rotational speed, and CP is the only one with horse movement - unless Rye has fixed theirs.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015 10:10 AM

If I remember corrcectly the one in Blackpool (from what I've read) is actually a reproduction of a Prior & Church racing derby, not an original, so if it's counted in the three I doubt there are others around from other makers. A shame because they're awesome, just rode Cedar Downs last night.

Last edited by Paisley, Wednesday, August 12, 2015 10:11 AM
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Wednesday, August 12, 2015 11:22 AM

Prior and Church get credit for the design on all machines, but for some reason the one at Blackpool was manufactured by someone else. There were five or six machines made, but these are indeed the last three. I think Coney N.Y. had one as well, and I don't know where the last one or two were.

An interesting thing is how the figures differed from ride to ride. Rye's Derby Racer has Illions carved horses, so maybe Prior and Church contracted with various carvers as machines were produced. On Euclid Beach's Great American Racing Derby the horses were replaced for a while by actual bicycles, when cycling was the new craze in America. After a while the horses returned.

Cedar Point's ride is the only one that still has the racing feature in working order. It's also the slowest of the three, with Rye's taking the speed record. It's so fast that the ops are continuously yelling at riders to "lean left" to stay balanced and they station an op to walk the platform and watch riders while the ride is in motion.

I'm so glad Euclid Beach needed the money and sold out to Cedar Point when they approached in 1968. (7?) I can't imagine anyone designing or building such a contraption these days, and we're very lucky to have these few relics available. I worked right next door to Cedar Downs my first summer at Cedar Point and I always loved looking over on a busy Saturday and seeing just about every horse occupied. And it always has such a beautiful glow at night that a night time ride on Cedar Downs is still one of my favorite things in life.

By the way, Paul, the very kind (and totally awesome) woodcarver on the Frontier Trail makes scale models of Cedar Downs horses for purchase. They're beautiful and quit authentic in detail, complete with curved grips and the long yellow slot in the platform. The horse is even adjustable for days when you really feel like a winner!
I had him custom carve a horse for me, with my favorite color horse and shape and design of saddle cloth. (notice next time you ride, there's horses in different running positions and three different shaped saddle cloths to choose from) I absolutely love it and if you're a fan of the ride it's worth stopping by his place on the Trail for a look-see.

Last edited by RCMAC, Wednesday, August 12, 2015 11:27 AM
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Wednesday, August 12, 2015 11:28 AM

Cedar Downs is a ride I always insist on riding. Love it. Thanks for the heads up on the woodcarver, I'll check that out.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015 1:32 PM

What a great ride! I really widh they could make a new version. Perhaps with a bit of roll articulation so alleviate the "lean left" instructions.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2015 10:10 PM

The Blackpool machine was built from a set of Prior & Church plans after the Second World War, after P&C had folded, Blackpool had it made, I haven't been able to find out who exactly did the work.

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