PKI Racer questions

Friday, January 16, 2004 10:26 AM
Its that time again: time for Rob's daily "Boring Day at the Office" question (copyright pending).

I've been doing a little research on the Racer and see that it has seen its share of modifications during its 33 years. Then again, it seems that the majority of PKI's wooden coasters see modifications throughout the years that significantly alter their original personalities.

I have heard a few comments about a "second chain lift"... something I assume is in place to help the train over a hill that would otherwise cause it to valley. Is this on the large camelback before the trains split apart and head towards the turnaround, or is it on the turnaround itself? Is it always on? Does its speed match that of the train at that point, or is there a little slowdown/jolt that occurs as the train catches the chain? It sounds as if this was the same set of circumstances that led to an "assist chain" on Coney Island's Thunderbolt (those who know the T-Bolt will know what I'm talking about).

I also know that much was said about the removal of the final speed hill on each side. Does anyone know why this happened (I think that Dorney did the same to their Thunderhawk a few, or more, years back)? I can't see any benefit to doing this, especially if the brakes were changed from skids to fins, as fins would probably take up a lot LESS space than traditional skid brakes. Was there a problem with the trains making it over that final hill?

I am most likely going to PKI this summer as part of an Indiana/Illinois/Ohio/Kentucky trip, and the Racer is actually one of my most anticipated rides (I get as excited about Schmeck & Allen rides as I do about CCI rides). Is the Racer actually a good ride with airtime that is expected of a John Allen ride, or is it merely a shadow of the ride that it once was? I rode Rebel Yell last year and walked away quite disappointed.

I know, I know... lots of questions. But hey, I'm bored!

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Friday, January 16, 2004 10:40 AM
I'm no expert on this, but I always thought what looks like a second chain was just a metal strip to catch the chain dog, to keep the train from rolling back if it didn't quite make it over that hill. It is indeed on the large camelback before the trains split up.

As far as the missing last bunny-hop, I've heard the reason was either because of the brake switch, or to make room for the tunnel that leads to Flight of Fear. I really miss that bunny hop, it had great head-choppers, and the ride feels incomplete without it.

The Racer has been getting better recently though. You can expect a few moments of gentle floating airtime. If you ride backwards, the giant camelback (after two tiny hills) will catch you by surprise. The only thing that really sucks about it is that the trains never get close enough to slap hands, and you can never tell who "won."

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Friday, January 16, 2004 10:40 AM
Thunderhawk's track profile has not been modified in the last 15 years to remove any bunny hills on the return to the brakes. A new station was built and swapped positions with the transfer table. This caused a trim brake to be installed on the return run, effectively killing the excellent airtime hill entering the brake run. Maybe that's what you're thinking?
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Friday, January 16, 2004 10:54 AM
I'm pretty sure that a speed hill was removed, although it may very well have occured more than 15 years ago. I know that the new station sits where the old transfer table used to be, but I'm pretty sure that the track between the final speed hill and the beginning of the brake run was flattened out, thus eliminating one of the ride's speed hills.

I'm going by what I remember hearing, so I may not be right... but I'm 90% sure.

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Friday, January 16, 2004 5:55 PM
There is a chain guide with anti-rollbacks at the top of the ...ummm... I think it's the third hill on Racer...the tall one between the lift and the turnaround. It's usually in place and frequently operating in the early season, then once the ride breaks in a bit they pull the chain out of the guide, then remove it entirely. When it is operating, it runs very slowly, and if you didn't see it you'd never notice it unless the train actually stalled going over the top.

No idea why they removed the last dip from the Racer, or from Beastie, but I suspect that in both cases the loss of the final dip is somehow connected with the extra trim brake on the turnaround.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Saturday, January 17, 2004 1:04 AM
I never knew... (runs off to search for pictures of the chain).

Rob, I went on a brief trip to Ohio last year (TR here), and was underwhelmed by Racer, even after five rides (4 forward, 1 backward). I got a little air, but there was a lot of shuffling and/or washboarding that caused some discomfort. It kept reminding me of a junior-sized American Eagle. Woodies are definitely temperamental, though, and I saw plenty of other trip reports from last year that raved about Racer riding well.

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Saturday, January 17, 2004 12:32 PM
I noticed last year that the South track ran significantly better than the North track. Which is a shame, as I never really cared for riding backward.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Saturday, January 17, 2004 1:27 PM
From what I have read in other forums, the last dip was removed because of the last brake run that was added/extended before entering the station.
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Sunday, January 18, 2004 12:58 PM
When I went late alst May, I found Racer forwards ok, no great shakes. A little more physical than I like my wood. But backwards was a religious experience (first coaster backwards ever), and never did re-ride forwards, but got in a lot of rides backwards. Way more air, for me, and much smoother, IMO.
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