Rocky Mountain Construction. The very name leaves coaster enthusiasts gushing, ranking, and daydreaming. Yep, there may be no coaster manufacturer who's more transformed the amusement industry in the 21st century than "RMC."
Today, we're taking a cross-country roadtrip to look at six landmark RMCs of the past and present – including rides that redefined what roller coasters can be. Then, we'll dip our toes into some forecasting, looking at two high profile projects that lay just over the horizon for the cutting-edge, industry-changing coaster manufacturer... and for all of us who love thrill rides. Strap in and hang on!
1. New Texas Giant (Six Flags Over Texas)
It all began in Texas. That's where Rocky Mountain Construction – at that point, a manufacturer no one had heard of, and with no coaster projects in its portfolio – took on one hell of a fixer-upper. Like many wooden coasters of the late '80s and '90s, Six Flags Over Texas' Texas Giant turned out to be a big problem. Built in an era when "woodies" were racing to keep up with their steel sisters by growing to untenable heights, Texas Giant was big, violent, and generally aging like an old tomato... basically, a giant, unpopular liability.
Though no one had any context for what it meant, we can now understand in retrospect that the Texas Giant project would be the debut of RMC's patented I-Box track. Make no mistake – by replacing Texas Giant's stacked, laminated wooden track with I-Box, it unquestionably became a steel coaster. It also became a very different coaster, using some of the original ride's wooden supports, but vastly altering the ride's elements to include steeper drops, wilder turns, and an iconic 95° over-banked turn.
New Texas Giant doesn't have any inversions – soon to become an RMC staple – but it still established the beginnings of the company's familiar customized layouts. And more to the point, the first RMC blew the coaster community away, turning the old, lumbering woodie into a headliner once more. Over the next five years, five more Six Flags woodies would be "RMC'ed" from wood-to-steel using I-Box track (Fiesta Texas's Rattler to Iron Rattler, Mexico's Medusa to Medusa Steel Coaster, Magic Mountain's Colossos to Twisted Colossos, New England's Cyclone to Wicked Cyclone, and Discovery Kingdom's Roar to Joker). But in the meantime, RMC's innovations didn't end...
2. Outlaw Run (Silver Dollar City)
After smashing onto the scene with their wood-to-steel conversion via I-Box track in 2011, RMC shattered all expectations with Silver Dollar City's Outlaw Run just two years later. Outlaw Run doesn't use steel I-Box track, but RMC's next patented technology – Topper Track. Essentially, Topper Track takes the idea of classic wooden coaster track (made of seven layers of stacked, laminated wood with a thin metal strip that train wheels roll along) and modernizes it.
Topper Track keeps the first five layers of stacked, laminated wood, but replaces the top two layers with a thicker, steel running rail – theoretically, an up-sized evolution of that metal strip that a wooden coaster's wheels run along. Though debate at the time was fierce, ultimately, the dust seemed to settle with an agreement: roller coasters that use Topper Track do count as wooden coasters. That's a very important distinction to arrive at because if Outlaw Run is wooden, then it does things no other wooden roller ever had.
That includes its record-shattering 81° first drop and... drumroll please... inversions. Yes, just months after the Lost Legend: Son of Beast met the wrecking ball (and seven years after it had lost its record-breaking vertical loop), Outlaw Run opened with not one, but three inversions – an incredible 153° overbanked turn, and a double heartline roll. In addition to leaving coaster enthusiasts salivating over the idea of what Son of Beast could've been at RMC's hands, the debut of Topper Track on a from-scratch coaster proved that RMC wouldn't just subtract woodies from the world via I-Box conversion, but add them via Topper Track.
And then of course, there's the ride that mixes both... Read on...