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!
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."
I'm going by what I remember hearing, so I may not be right... but I'm 90% sure.
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.
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.
--Dave Althoff, Jr.
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