Racing wooden roller coasters are some of the most sought after roller coasters today, as they tend to have great airtime and great competiveness. These elements all exist while having another train a few feet to the left or right racing with you through the entire course. Six Flags Great Adventure in Jackson, New Jersey has their very own racer, Rolling Thunder. Rolling Thunder was built by Don Rosser and William Cobb and has been operating since 1979. In 1984, Rolling Thunder's second track was renamed to "Gnillor Rednuht" and the side actually raced backwards. This was done to honor the 100th year anniversary of roller coasters in the United States.
Rolling Thunder is a figure-8 style roller coaster that is located in the back corner of the park, adjacent to the tall and famous Kingda Ka. The trains run through a course of 3200 feet of wooden structured track. At times, the trains separate and are not always racing right next to each other. One train could be peaking over a hill while the other is on the bottom of its hill beneath. In fact, very rarely are the trains next completely next to each other during the ride, yet they are still racing. There are several moments where the trains pass each other where one could be going up a hill, and the other going down. This is a unique concept to a racing coaster in that it gives the riders more sense of speed and racing as they catch multiple glimpses and fast encounters with their rivals on the other side. The two minute and ten second ride takes riders up to a maximum height of 96 feet up the first hill, and then plummets down the main drop reaching top speeds of around 56 miles an hour. Two trains operate on each track of Rolling Thunder, making the entire coaster consist of 4 different trains. Each of the 4 trains is a different color, making them easy to identify. As of July of 2009, the red and green trains run on the first track and the blue and yellow trains run on the second track. Four cars make up each train, with each having 3 benched seats, creating a maximum of 24 riders per train on each ride. With Rolling Thunder able to operate twice as many riders due to it being a racing rolling coaster, it is able to push through a whopping 3,840 riders an hour.
Riders are taken out of the station and around a quick 70 degree turn to the left before heading up the duel lift hills. Once at the top, riders scream to their friends in the train next to them and downward they go. The train on the right hand side will experience more airtime than the left since it has a lower first hill than the left hand side does. One more hill is experienced on both sides before heading into the first turnaround of the figure-8 design. Even during the turn around the trains are rarely right next each other. The right side comes up and meets the track of the left side for a quick second, before dipping down again going into the long stretch of airtime hills. The two trains battle it out during the home stretch of the ride going over the several hills, all while exchanging heights and speeds. Once riders survive the many hills, they are taken into the second turn around section of the ride, which takes them directly back into the station.
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