As the son of parents who once worked at the Manetta Mill in Lando, Ronnie Mosley is no stranger to hard work.
So when John Roof, then head of maintenance at Carowinds amusement park, asked Mosley if his company could assemble a theme park ride, Mosley said, “Let me look at the drawings.”
His welding and fabrication company located in Richburg was experienced in commercial construction and he had been doing maintenance at the park.
It wasn’t long until Mosley told Roof, “I can do this.”
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The ride was Drop Zone, a tower that lifts people in the air in four-person gondolas with their feet suspended. It drops them 100 feet at a speed of 56 miles per hour. The ride opened in March of 1996.
Drop Zone, now called Drop Tower, was the first amusement ride job for Mosley Erecting. There were other jobs at Carowinds, including roller coasters, and soon, simply by word-of-mouth advertising, his crew was traveling across the country erecting rides.
His latest amusement ride – his 107th – is one for the record books. His crew is building Fury 325, Carowinds’ giga coaster.
Mosley’s eight-man crew is assembling the sections of the coaster’s track. There’s 6,602 feet of teal-colored track to install, some of it just a few feet off the ground. Most of the track is much higher, however.
On Thursday the Mosley crew finished the signature section of Fury – the lift hill and descending track.
The lift hill is 325 feet tall. The Statue of Liberty at 305 feet tall could easily fit underneath it.
Mosley said Thursday’s work was no different from any other day at the office, just a little bit higher and windier than usual.
“The only difference is this is taller and heavier,” Mosley said. “It’s the same sequence, the same alignment as other coasters.”
But being taller and heavier means bigger cranes, heavier rigging and, yes, being more cautious.
Mosley rents the cranes for each job. It took 33 trucks to bring in sections of the 350-foot crane, which was built on-site. The three cranes have been given nicknames by roller coaster enthusiasts, Big Bird, Clifford and Clifford Jr.
On Thursday, Daniel Doster, Michael Jeffories and B.J. Larry of Mosley were suspended on a large yellow platform to connect a section that links the lift hill track to the descending track, which drops at an incredible 81-degree angle. The pounding of their work echoed as cameras and video recorded the event.
Fury 325 was designed by Bolliger & Mabillard of Monthey, Switzerland.
“They are the best in the world to work with,” Mosley said.
Four of the park’s roller coasters were designed by Bolliger & Mabillard.
Each time Mosley has built a B&M coaster for Carowinds, the coasters have gotten bigger and faster.
Mosley Erecting installed the Top Gun coaster, now called Afterburn, in 1998. His dad, Pete, came to watch construction. Looking over the coaster, father told son, “I don’t know where this skill came from, it certainly wasn’t from me or your mother,” Mosley remembers.
At its tallest point Afterburn is 113 feet, and its top speed is 62 mph.
In 2009 Mosley Erecting installed the Intimidator, with a top height of 232 feet and a speed of 80 mph.
Mosley and his team ride each coaster they erect. Looking at Fury, he’s candid: “This one could mess with my head.”
Erecting one of the world’s tallest and fastest – and most extreme – roller coasters close to home is a point of pride for Mosley.
“This makes me feel good, putting my stamp on something that everyone will see,” Mosley said.
And, for Mosley, the stamp is more than just a dramatic visual icon. Before the connecting piece of track for the lift hill was put into place, workers and those attending the event signed the steel.
Mosley not only signed his name but also affixed a company sticker. The sticker features drawings of two of his jobs, the Intimidator roller coaster and WindSeeker, a 30-story ride that spins people at about 30 mph. Mosley erected Carowinds’ WindSeeker in 2011.