Councilwoman Schipske Envisions the Return of the Cyclone Racer

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Vintage postcard depicting the Cyclone Racer.

Vintage postcard depicting the Cyclone Racer.

Pointing out that Long Beach was once the home of the largest and fastest roller coaster in the U.S. that attracted more than 30 million riders, Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske announced last week that she is introducing Agenda Item R10, asking City Council to consider a proposal by Cyclone Racer Project Designer, Larry Osterhoudt, to bring back the iconic roller coaster and place it near the Queen Mary or the Aquarium.

“I’d like to see private investors work their magic and create a tourism opportunity just as Flugtag and the Grand Prix have done,” commented Councilwoman Schipske, “creation of attractions and unique concepts like bringing back an iconic landmark like the Cyclone Racer or creating a park on an abandoned overpass help to draw tourists to our city, creating more jobs and tourism dollars.

“Mr. Osterhoudt has an exciting proposal for bringing back what he calls ‘The World’s Greatest Ride’ and placing it either near the Aquarium or the Queen Mary,” says Schipske, who has written extensively about Long Beach history, “would not only bring back an important part of Long Beach’s early history but would produce significant tourism dollars, not to mention a lot of fun.”

Schipske says she has reviewed Osterhoudt’s idea to re-create the Silver Spray Pier and the Cyclone Racer with a construction he has named “The World’s Greatest Ride”. He has released Google Earth maps outlining potential locations for this 2.5 acre project: adjacent to the Lighthouse south of the Aquarium or by the Queen Mary. Mr. Osterhoudt has indicated that he has secured investors for this project.

“Long Beach has failed to seize many economic opportunities offered in the past years, including: Port Disney, Tesla Motors and the porting of the U.S.S. Iowa,” reminds Schipske. “Bringing back a cyclone roller coaster could potentially revitalize the Queensway Bay development and provide additional synergy for the Aquarium, Shoreline Village and Pine Avenue establishments. We need to check this out.”

Schipske notes that Long Beach’s love affair with roller coasters began very early in its history. In 1902, Long Beach set about to become a major tourist destination in Southern California with the opening of the Pine Avenue Pier, Pacific and Electric Trolley, a Walk of a Thousand Lights and a grand public bathhouse. In 1907, Long Beach got its first roller coaster, followed in 1915 with the opening of the Jackrabbit Racer near the foot of Cedar Avenue adjacent to the area known as Silver Spray Pier. The roller coaster extended over the ocean.

Always the competitor with Coney Island amusements in Brooklyn, New York which introduced the cyclone race in 1927, Long Beach soon had its own Cyclone Racer in 1930. Thousands flocked to this wooden dual-track roller coaster, built on wood pilings over the ocean. It was considered the largest and fastest in the US. The ride was called “racer” because there were two cars on two separate tracks that raced each other. It is estimated that by the time the Cyclone Racer was closed in 1968, more than 30 million had taken rides on it.

“Ironically, the Economic Development Corporation of New York has just announced it is rebuilding the ‘Thunderbolt’ roller coaster on Coney Island as a way to help bring Coney Island back to being one of the top tourist destinations in the world,” adds Schipske. “We can’t let Coney Island out do us.”

Schipske has placed the item for today’s council meeting.


One Response to “Councilwoman Schipske Envisions the Return of the Cyclone Racer”
  1. lmharris says:

    I love the vintage postcard of the Cyclone Racer……but even more of the waves breaking. Let’s bring those back.