One Intimidating Ride

The new coaster is tabbed as the tallest, fastest and longest coaster in the Southeast.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Intimidator, a new roller coaster inspired by NASCAR legend Dale Earnhardt, took its first laps on Friday in a media preview before the ride opens to the public on Saturday, March 27 at Carowinds in Charlotte, N.C.

Earnhardt Sr.'s son, Kerry, was on hand for the ribbon cutting for the new coaster that is tabbed as the tallest, fastest and longest coaster in the Southeast.

From there, Kerry took part in the preview rides and rode in the front car of the coaster train that resembles Dale Sr.'s 1998 Goodwrench Chevrolet.

The coaster, which has a ride duration of 3 minutes and 33 seconds, carries riders 232 feet up in the air before dropping them 211 feet at a 74-degree angle at speeds up to 80 mph.

"That's the best ride I have been on," Earnhardt said. "They have done a great job with that. It's very intimidating.

"It does simulate a lot of the way you feel going into the banking in the race tracks. The first drop...wow, that's amazing."

MRN Lead Pit Reporter and Executive Director of the NASCAR Hall of Fame Winston Kelley also was one of the first to take on the Intimidator.

"That was bad to the bone," Kelley said. "If you like roller coasters this is what you need to do."

The timing of the coaster's opening couldn't come at a better time with the grand opening of the NASCAR Hall of Fame coming in May.

"We have got a package deal that we are already working with, and this makes the perfect marriage," Kelley said. "Jerry Helms (Vice President of Operations, Carowinds) and the team called us early on and let us in on the secret before they even announced it and said 'we want you to be a part of it and we want to be a part of what you are doing.'"

Carowinds auctioned off the first rides on the Intimidator and raised more than $10,000 for the Dale Earnhardt Foundation and several other charities.

"It's a great way to remember my dad while contributing to so many worthwhile charities out here," Earnhardt said. "I'm honored to be here on behalf of the Earnhardt family and the Dale Earnhardt Foundation to thank Carowinds and the whole staff at Carowinds."

There are many items in the midway leading up to the ride that pay tribute to Dale Earnhardt Sr., including videos, racing facts and a No. 3 Goodwrench Chevrolet.

"That's very special," Earnhardt said about the car that is on display with a list of all Earnhardt's 76 career Cup Series wins. "I was looking at the car earlier today and it brought back a lot of memories and times we had in the garage and at the race tracks together. Just seeing that car makes you feel at home."

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