Thunder Road cartoon ad promotion from 1976 - HERE
More Thunder Road images from 1980 - HERE
Thunder Road tops out in May, 1975 - HERE
Thunder Road took it's last riders on July 26, 2015. The coaster that saved Carowinds is no more. Carowinds management decided to retire the 39 year old coaster in favor of a large water park expansion, announced in late August, 2015. The coaster still has its many fans and the announcement about its removal has not set well with many. There have been numerous "SAVE THUNDER ROAD" petitions and Facebook pages created to help save this iconic ride but obviously had no impact. The announcement has caused quite a stir with the media and the ole woody is getting its share of air play in the final days of its existence. This will likely go down as the biggest loss in Carowinds history.

Here's a little history of this great coaster. Built at a cost of $1.6 million, Thunder Road was an all wood racing coaster that opened to the public on April 3, 1976. It opened in what would 3 years later become the County Fair section of the park. A quick history lesson here. The name Thunder Road (the best coaster name at Carowinds in my opinion), was taken from the 1958 Robert Mitchum movie depicting moonshining in the Carolina mountains. Route 9, going north from Atlanta, was nicknamed Thunder Road during the prohibition when bootleggers with souped up car engines would race to outrun the law & revenuers.

These photos display the original 32-seat rolling stock that operated on it between the 1976 & 1980 seasons. Two trains were purchased (one for each side) from Chicago's world famous Riverview Park's, Jetstream Coaster after that park closed in 1967. The front ends of the trains were modified to depict the Outlaw (yellow) & Sheriff (blue) as depicted in the lower photos above. The top photos show the trains with the original V-shaped front end, as it looked at Riverview Park.

The trains were particularly heavy, causing major stress on the wooden track over the years. Eventually, one 4-seat car was removed from each train to help reduce track stress (top, right photo). Ironically, this also reduced hourly capacity for the popular coaster. To remedy this, Carowinds eventually bought 4 new matching trains from PTC in 1981 to increase rider capacity and the old Riverview trains were said to be scrapped. A very sad ending with unfortnuate foresight. Many enthusiasts would love to have preserved these classic coaster trains.

Actual demoltion of Thunder Road started on August 6, 2015. In just 1 weeks time, it was completely leveled. The photo below was taken on August 16, 2015.