Dual Tracked Racers

Dual tracked wooden coasters aren't anything new. They've been around for over a century dating back to the teens of the 1900s. After a surge of racing woodies in the 1970s, things seemed to quiet down on the concept shortly thereafter. Custom Coasters Inc. introduced a racing/"dueling" coaster near the close of the century, and this was quickly followed by Great Coasters International Inc. a year later with Gwazi. Now GCII has three to their credit. RollerCoaster! takes a quick look to see how they compare.

In 1999, ACE President Bill Linkenheimer III was asked to speak at the opening of Gwazi. Enthusiasts were not only excited about the debut of an exciting new coaster, but it would also be the first woodie for the entire Busch chain. Of note, the company has not built another woodie since, but there is still a chance more wood will find its way to a SeaWorld or Busch park in the future.

Like CCI's Twisted Sisters (eventually to be called Twisted Twins), Gwazi broke away from the mold of the 70s where racing coasters ran fairly parallel throughout the ride experience. Instead, each side of the twin racer had its own unique course, plowing into its own territory with occasional "near misses" with the other train. Where the Kings Entertainment parks found success with out-and-back designs, Gwazi was all twister, as is the norm for a GCII creation. While the ride opened and operated with PTC trains and with the sharpest paint scheme to come along in ages, after more than a decade, these trains have now been retired and GCII's own Millennium Flyer trains now race on the feline woodie.

The following year, Lightning Racer burst onto the scene at Hersheypark in Pennsylvania. Like the racing coasters of the 70s and early 80s, this attraction stayed more true to form with the two trains staying close to each other. But this wasn't just a matter of parallel tracks, this was a brilliantly-designed masterpiece of tracks snaking over and under each other. It opened to rave reviews. Of all twin tracked coasters in operation today, this woodie ranks the highest on Amusement Today's annual Golden Ticket Awards, generally in the top ten.

Now, a decade later after that big success, Joris en de Draak brings GCII back to a twin tracked attraction. With track lengths of  2,585 feet, it is the shortest of the company's racers, but that hasn't inhibited the popularity of this new marvel. Placed in a theme park that knows something about theming, the environment makes this new addition a top tier attraction to the park's four million annual guests. Like Lightning Racer, it features plenty of interaction between the two tracks (Fire and Water), including a rollicking triple up following the initial drops that roars right over the station.

In an industry where observers often wonder "What ever happened to..." many types of attractions, it's nice to see the twin tracked coaster still finding its place in parks around the world.

Tim Baldwin
 

Wood Racers
Wood Racers

Gwazi

Gwazi

Gwazi

Gwazi

Gwazi

Joris en de Draak

Joris en de Draak

Joris en de Draak

Joris en de Draak

Joris en de Draak

Lightning Racer

Lighting Racer

Lightning Racer

Lightning Racer

Lightning Racer

Be sure to check out the new GCII trains on Gwazi. New photos have been uploaded to the ACE Online Census

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