It was the star attraction when the park opened in 1972. The renowned late John Allen of the Philadelphia Toboggan Company was quoted as saying, "It rides like a baby coach."
That "baby" has been the focal point of the Coney Mall sector of the park for the past four decades. Racer is credited for re-igniting the roller coaster building boom in the early 1970's. More than 96 million guests have taken a ride on Racer since it opened April 29, 1972 – the most in the park's history. Its record year was 1976, when 3,681,338 rides were given.
In addition to being considered an important part of the roller coaster renaissance of the 1970's, Racer was the site of several world-record riding attempts and is notable for its appearance in The Brady Bunch episode entitled "Cincinnati Kids," filmed at the park in 1973. On May 28, 1982, one side of Racer became the world's first full-length, backward-travelling roller coaster. (Trains on both tracks now face forward.)
Allen was coaxed out of semi-retirement by Kings Island officials for the task of designing and building Racer. He started to design the ride's blueprints in 1969, physical construction began in September of 1970, and the first trial run took place the following September. As Allen predicted it would, it worked perfectly the first time. He considered Racer to be the finest roller coaster he ever built.
Racer was the first roller coaster built structurally on the ground with prefabricated sections lifted into position and bolted. It was one of the largest roller coasters ever built at the time, and the largest that Allen had built. More than 600,000 board feet of lumber were used in the dual-tracked ride.
Kings Island opens for its 40th anniversary season on April 28. Daily operation begins May 11.