Why Wooden Roller Coasters Give 'Out of Control' Thrills
Chad Miller's Voyage: the world's best roller coaster?
By Mark Russell, Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2012 3:35 PM CDT
Voyage Coaster at Holiday World, rated by many as the top wooden roller coaster in the world.   (MrRctfreak)

(Newser) – Any job with lingo like "head choppers" and "air time" has got to be fun. And this one certainly is: designing wooden roller coasters. In a profile of Chad Miller, the "rock star" of wooden roller coaster designers, the New York Times looks at his company, Gravity Group, and Miller's means of creating nerve-rattling rides. Safety comes first, of course, but after that it's about making drops, curves, and parabolas that maximize the amount of time riders stay airborne.

Steel coasters may be faster, higher, and more extreme, but wooden ones have tighter turns. On the other hand, wood tracks must be checked daily and repaired quickly, and wood is trickier to work with. “If it’s cold, then you are going to have one amount of friction loss," says Miller. "If it’s hot and just rained, mixed with the oil on the track, it’s going to fly like crazy.” Still, many obsessive roller coaster fans say Miller's 1.2-mile-long Voyage at Holiday World in Indiana is the world's greatest. “What is amazing to me is how well thought-out this ride was," says a veteran rider. "I like the out-of-control feeling.”

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Showing 3 of 12 comments
zazz
Jul 11, 2012 7:12 AM CDT
We, here in Rochester, have one at the local amusement park SeaBreeze have a extremely old wooden coaster called the Jack Rabbit. I wonder if it is an identical ride to the one mentioned below.
YetAnotherCollegeKid
Jul 9, 2012 4:12 PM CDT
The only wooden roller coaster I have ridden is my favorite (traditional) coaster: Twister II, at Six Flags Denver.
bubbahotep
Jul 8, 2012 11:40 PM CDT
I absolutely agree, wooden coasters have it all over the newer metal ones, for all the reasons mentioned here. All the new ones do is wrench your spine and pop your eardrums. Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh has 3 great wooden coasters -- The Racers, The Thunderbolt and The Jack Rabbit.