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New Coaster will Be a Head Chopper

Preview of Evel Knievel, the coaster debuting at Six Flags St. Louis in Missouri

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New Coaster will Be a Head Chopper

Evel Knievel cycles into Six Flags St. Louis in 2008.

Six Flags St. Louis 2007.
Updated December 11, 2007
Instead of going with a tried-and-true Warner Brothers cartoon character or a DC Comics superhero, Six Flags St. Louis' new wooden coaster will be themed to Evel Knievel. While he's a well-known icon, the chopper stuntman would seem to be an odd namesake for the thrill machine. According to the info that Six Flags has released thus far, it appears that the coaster will be a fairly typical woodie and, other than appropriating his name, will have little to do with Mr. Knievel or motorcycles.

Evel Knievel Stats

  • Type: Wooden cyclone coaster
  • Height: 82 feet
  • First drop: 80 feet
  • Top speed: 50 mph
  • Track length: 2700 feet
  • Height Restriction: Minimum 48 inches

The Coaster's Cycles

The new coaster, to be built by Great Coasters International, will feature GCI's 24-passenger Millennium Flyer trains. The company has been getting rave reviews for its sleek, smooth-riding trains and for its recent thrill machines such as Renegade, the wooden coaster it built for Valleyfair in Minnesota for the 2007 season. While Evel Knievel won't be quite as tall, long, or fast as Renegade, it should be a great ride.

Instead of a straight drop, the woodie will bank 90 degrees to the left as it navigates its initial 80-foot plunge. At the bottom of the first drop it will travel under another section of track. This should yield a high-speed head chopper, a term that coaster fans use to describe the illusion that passengers won't be able to clear an overhead beam. As opposed to an out-and-back coaster, Evel Knievel will be a twister or cyclone coaster (named after Coney Island's famous Cyclone) and will cross over itself 14 times. That'll be a lot of head chopping.

After the initial drop, Evel Knievel will deliver a 55-foot double-down drop. Sixteen more hills will offer plenty of airtime and lateral G-forces as the trains encounter high-banked turns, abrupt direction changes, bunny hills, and other elements.

The high-flying Evel Knievel (the man) offers a potent subject around which a wild coaster could be themed. An LIM-powered steel coaster, for example, could stop mid-course, rev up to speed on a straight piece of track, fly up a ramp, and soar through a ring of fire. Or an inverted steel coaster (in which the trains would hang from a track above), with cars made to resemble motorcycles, could incorporate buses (hey, how about a bunch of those Mr. Six buses from the old Six Flags commercials?) over which the "cycles" could fly. But a wood coaster offers few opportunities to capitalize on the Evel Knievel legend. Hmm. Perhaps Six Flags should hire me as a ride consultant.

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