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Coaster enthusiasts seek to save Carowinds’ Thunder Road with petition, Facebook page

Fort Mill twins Erik, left, and Travis Williams, both 14, ride Thunder Road as Carowinds celebrated the roller coaster's 30th birthday in March.
Fort Mill twins Erik, left, and Travis Williams, both 14, ride Thunder Road as Carowinds celebrated the roller coaster's 30th birthday in March. lbailey@charlotteobserver.com

A group of roller coaster enthusiasts are seeking to stop the July closure of Carowinds’ roller coaster Thunder Road with a petition and a Facebook page to “Save Thunder Road.”

Carowinds announced Saturday it will shut down the wooden roller coaster, which has twin parallel trains, after 39 years in operation. Final rides will occur on July 26.

The roller coaster’s closure will make way for new additions to the park – what Laresa Thompson, a public relations manager for Carowinds, called a “big splash and more.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, the group had raised more than 3,000 signatures for its petition to save the wooden coaster. The Facebook page had garnered about 1,600 likes.

“We know a lot of people are sad, and it’s a nostalgic time,” Thompson said. “Our guests have asked for what we’re doing, and we have listened.”

Patrick Bennett, who has been active on the Save Thunder Road Facebook page and plans to sign the petition to save the coaster, said the coaster was the very first he rode.

“That was the main roller coaster back in the ’70s and ’80s,” Bennett said. “They’ve got to keep this roller coaster, because it’s a classic.

“It’s a monument for Charlotte itself,” he said.

Matt Glumac, who has never ridden Thunder Road, signed the petition because he supports the historical value of the coaster.

“It is the only wooden coaster in America that crosses a state line,” he said. “It’s one of only a few operating racing coasters in America.”

Thunder Road has given more than 40 million rides, according to a news release from Carowinds. From 1995 to 2008, one of the trains faced backwards, giving riders a different perspective.

The ride was named after the 1958 movie “Thunder Road,” which starred Robert Mitchum and was filmed in North Carolina.

Chaney: 704-358-5197

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