First look at the world’s fastest roller coaster: Formula Rossa

The incredibly fast Formula Rossa has taken the world’s fastest roller coaster crown from Six Flags Great Adventure’s Kingda Ka. The Formula 1-themed coaster, located at the new multi-billion dollar Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi, has eclipsed Kingda Ka’s 128 mph launch by pushing the envelope to an insane 149.1 mph (240 kmh).

After the powerful launch briefly turns the rider’s faces into play dough, the train climbs a hill that appears to be lined with trim brakes that sap a lot of the roller coaster’s initial speed. Who’d want to go that fast for too long anyway?

Then, much of Formula Rossa seems a bit uneventful. I’m sure those banked turns so low to the ground are fun, but this video doesn’t have me booking my plane ticket to Abu Dhabi just yet. To be clear, I’m definitely not the type to invoke U-S-A chants when it comes to theme parks. I’m envious of roller coaster fans in other countries like Japan and Great Britain. However, in this case I’d rather ride the former record holder, Kingda Ka. While this is just a video, and videos can never completely do a ride justice, Kingda Ka looks like a more fun ride with it’s skyscraping height of 45 stories and that twisting drop back to Earth.One has to wonder if we’ve reached the speed and g-force limits that the human body should be exposed to. In a New York Times article, officials from Ferrari World shared that while Formula Rossa will be able to attain nearly 150 mph, they might actually operate it at lower speeds. So, Ferrari World can claim the World record, but not have to deal with rider complaints from the ridiculous g-forces this thing must pull. This may be smart from the park’s standpoint, but kind of stinks for roller coaster enthusiasts. Imagine traveling half way around the World for that record-breaking launch and unbenounced to you, they’re running Formula Rossa at only 125 mph.

Still, Formula Rossa looks like fun and I’m looking forward to more videos of Ferrari World, its dual track racing coaster Fiorano Challenge, and the other rides.

Roller coaster crash injures 10 people at Knott’s Berry Farm

Two roller coaster cars collided Thursday night on the Pony Express ride at Knott’s Berry Farm, sending 10 riders to the hospital.

According to KTLA-TV, a ride car leaving the boarding station “rolled back,” slamming a second car car inside the station that was boarding other guests.

The crash happened during Knott’s “Halloween Haunt” event about 8:15 p.m. on Thursday. Authorities said the injuries were minor.

The Pony Express was built at Knott’s Berry Farm in 2008. It launches from zero to 38 miles per hour in 3 seconds and reaches a top speed of 40 miles per hour, relatively tame by today’s roller coaster standards.

Rollbacks, while not common, are a regular occurrence on roller coasters. They happen when a ride car is not launched fast enough to make it to the top of the first lift. This can be caused by a number of factors, including wind gusts, cold weather and ride cars that don’t have enough passengers and therefore they don’t have enough momentum.

Most coasters have a chain lift or other device to prevent rollbacks, as well as a braking system to stop a car if it does roll back.

There’s no word yet as to the cause of the Pony Express roller coaster rollback.

Another roller coaster at Knott’s Berry Farm, the hydraulically launched Xcelerator, is known for having rollbacks. On the Xcelerator, a car that rolls back is stopped by magnetic fins before it re-enters the boarding station.

Two other U.S. roller coasters based on the Xcelerator’s design – Kingda Ka at Six Flags Great Adventure and Top Thrill Dragster at Cedar Point – are also known to have more frequent rollbacks.

Here’s footage of a Kingda Ka rollback:

[Image credit: Flickr user Magic Madzik]