Ron Toomer dead at age 81

Monday, September 26, 2011 11:18 PM

RIP Ron Toomer. I'll be the first in this thread (and possibly the last) to praise one of my favorite of his creations, Drachen Fire. :)

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011 12:05 AM

I imagine that the Angel of Death walked him to the entrance of the Big Bad Wolf, and Ron climbed into the front seat of the black, suspended train, and took a ride straight to roller coaster Heaven.

Thanks for the great rides, and even the not-so-great rides, Ron.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011 12:12 AM

Lots of good times were had because of Ron Toomer. For that, I am grateful.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011 12:29 AM

In case you're interested, I've got video on-line of his keynote addresses to CoasterMania in 1999 and 2009:

CoasterMania 1999

CoasterMania 2009

And for what it's worth, I really liked Drachen Fire, but thought it really needed to lose the shoulder bars... :)

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011 1:10 AM

I think a lot of us giggle about the wire coat hanger bit from one of those documentaries, but remember that the vast majority of Arrow rides come from a time before we all had PC's on our desk (or in our pocket, these days). I had been one to curse the guy while riding some of these torture machines, but he and the Arrow engineers obviously were pioneers.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011 2:23 AM

It was the clothoid loop that he was most proud of wasn't it? Lost Kause I would hope the angel of death wouldn't have put him on a roller coaster, unless he's going to hell? He didn't ride roller coasters. I bet he's going to heaven and perhaps without any fear he will get a chance to ride his own creations. Or perhaps he still won't care to. :) This is very sad. A good long life though.

The New York Times reported back in 1988 that his company arrow dynamics was responsible for helping get Disneyland off the ground. Part of that was the Matterhorn I think.

Here's the link to the 1988 Technology article. All about the new looping technology both corkscrew and clothoid.

http://www.nytimes.com/1988/08/02/science/upside-down-at-70-mph-the...all&src=pm

Last edited by aerodynamic, Tuesday, September 27, 2011 2:39 AM
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011 2:50 AM

Since he is now deceased, I imagine all fears of riding his creations are probably gone. Big Bad Wolf is "dead" too, and it is said that loved ones meet you after you pass away to accompany you to the gates of Heaven. I was giving BBW a personality, as if it were one of Mr. Toomer's deceased loved ones. It was just a bit of my goofball imagination coming out. Since I had to explain, I guess it wasn't as beautiful of a thought to some others as it was to me. :)

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011 3:39 AM

I think it's a beautiful thought LostKause. I'm just not sure Ron does. :) Thanks for the links RideMan. I just finished watching the videos. He mentioned the 2nd row of the last car as the sweet spot on magnum from what he understood and people in the audience agreed. I just happened to get a ride in that exact seat on my one ride on it this year on my way back from Cleveland 2 weeks ago. I very much agree.

Ron mused about what makes Magnum succeed in public opinion where other coasters like it fall short. I would say it's the location and design. Heading out toward a great lake with the second hill holding you briefly over the beach and water and high in the sky and then dropping you into a highly effective black tunnel filled with the perfect ratio of air and speed. The juxtaposition of those two elements are it's heart for me. I've really grown to love the turn around now that I've learned to ride defensively and in a middle row. Ron mentioned twice he was was hearing it's the return run airtime hills that people like. That part is just dessert for me. Those tunnels being so tight and the roar inside just seem to rocket the train. Even that last little stroll back around and about to the station works out as genius to me because it gives everyone a moment to process and enjoy. I'm glad he said yes to 200 feet.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011 9:09 AM

RideMan said:

And for what it's worth, I really liked Drachen Fire, but thought it really needed to lose the shoulder bars... :)

No doubt, though I think most coasters need to lose the shoulder bars. I just don't feel compelled to mention that in every other post I make.

Hugs. :)

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011 10:23 AM

I rode Drachen Fire during it's first year, and I really liked it too. The layout was unlike anything ever built or built since.

Magnum gets a lot of hatred around here sometimes, but I am glad that this topic brought out people who respect it. It's one of my favorite rides of all time.

And that right there describes the way I viewed Ron Toomer's relationship with coaster fans. Some people may not have liked a lot of his coasters, but the man always seemed to me to get the respect that he deserves.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011 10:59 AM

R.I.P Ron Toomer- You started this crazy idea of 220 ft plus roller coasters!

Last edited by darienlakefan returns!, Tuesday, September 27, 2011 11:00 AM
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011 11:40 AM

RIP Ron. Truly one of the all time greats. He created many rides that we are familiar with to this day. His hand was in the creation of coasters that almost every major park had, if you really think about it.

I had the opportunity to get my first ride on a coaster on one of his creations which was the old corkscrew at GL. However, it wasn't until late 96 that i rode the magnum for the first time. Once, i finally rode the Magnum it was then that i knew i loved coasters. Some may not be the smoothest and some may not be the fastest, but he truly made some of the first groundbreaking coasters of their day.

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011 11:54 AM

Vater said:


RideMan said:

it really needed to lose the shoulder bars... :)

No doubt, though I think most coasters need to lose the shoulder bars. I just don't feel compelled to mention that in every other post I make.

Hugs. :)

Oh yeah ;) I can sit back and watch others do my work!
http://fullyarticulated.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341d0baf53ef00e554fdcb998834-800wi

My mission is nearing completion!

(and I haven't even mentioned it in months!)

Last edited by CoasterDemon, Tuesday, September 27, 2011 11:55 AM
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011 12:14 PM

Let's see...1, 2, 3, 4 posts (5 if you include seat dividers), this month alone. Nope, no mention of restraints at all. :)

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011 12:32 PM

Don't worry, Billy. Once you allow a passion to die, you allow a little bit of yourself go along with it. :)

Last edited by LostKause, Tuesday, September 27, 2011 12:32 PM
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011 12:34 PM

^Right on, Travis :)

^^Wow, Vater, I thought I had too much time on my hands. Seems that 2 of those are the same page in the same thread, and it wasn't a direct mention of the restraints that I refuse to mention (for now).

Last edited by CoasterDemon, Tuesday, September 27, 2011 12:36 PM
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011 12:36 PM

Really sad to see him go, I dig Maverick.

It's not a toomah!

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011 12:54 PM

CoasterDemon said:

^^Wow, Vater, I thought I had too much time on my hands.

That didn't take but a couple minutes. I'm just thorough. :)

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011 12:54 PM

Loch Ness Monster promo video:
http://www.youtube.com/user/tvnewsguy42#p/u/7/gHQH4zrnCo4

My favorite part at about 0:35 "lives up to it's reputation for shyness - and quickly goes into hiding!"

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011 12:55 PM

Well, Drachen Fire was a particular offender. I never saw anybody admit to it, but a friend of mine is pretty sure he figured out why. His observation was that the seats on Drachen Fire were *wider* than on other Arrow loopers, meaning the seat did not do a good job of positioning your body under the restraint. His tactic was to jam his elbows in between torso and seat, stabilizing the upper body and reducing some of the violence of the ride. Another issue on that one is that some of the elements were taken at a very slow pace, meaning that you don't have angular acceleration working in your favor. Drachen Fire was a ride on which the bars were a particularly egregious problem, much like Flight of Fear '96.

There are some basic misconceptions going around right now...

The first modern tubular steel roller coaster was not the Runaway Train at SFOT (1966) as has often been reported, but the Matterhorn at Disneyland (1959). Arrow Development did deliver much of the ride package for Disneyland and later for Walt Disney World. Toomer joined Arrow in 1965, and according to "Roller Coasters, Flumes and Flying Saucers" his first job was working on water flow for Pirates of the Caribbean, and he quickly moved on to working on the aforementioned Runaway Train. Obviously many of the actual "inventions," including the Corkscrew, are actually properly credited mostly to Karl Bacon and Ed Morgan. But that doesn't diminish Toomer's contributions, not the least of which were his leadership of the company in getting it out from under Rio Grande and Huss in 1986, just in time for some of the perhaps less innovative, but certainly most noteworthy and ambitious projects Arrow ever built.

The book I mentioned above is essentially a biography of Arrow Development through the careers of its two founders, Ed Morgan and Karl Bacon. But there was a third person who was there from not quite the beginning until not quite the end, who was there for almost all of the important stuff in between, and that was Ron Toomer.

--Dave Althoff, Jr.

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