Intimidator equals tourism

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By Chris Sardelli

A new high-speed roller coaster could help boost the state’s economy, attracting tourists and creating several jobs, said Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer at an unveiling March 26.

Bauer was one of several people to speak last week at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Carowinds’ newest roller coaster, the Dale Earnhardt-themed Intimidator. Carowinds is an amusement park located near I-77 on the border of North and South Carolina.  

Bauer applauded the theme park for investing $23 million into the creation and construction of the new coaster, saying it will help bolster the area’s tourism industry and make Caro-winds “a premier destination in the Southeast.”

“This will grow the economy,” Bauer said. “This is true economic stimulus, creating new jobs while bringing new money into our state. That’s what’s going to restore the state’s economy and that’s what’s going to restore the national economy.”

Tim Newman, CEO of the Charlotte Regional Business Authority, also spoke to the crowd, agreeing that the ride will help boost the area’s hospitality and tourism industry.

“This is helping to lead the way out of the bad times,” Newman said. “This is a great day for the Charlotte region.”

Jerry Helms, vice president of operations for Carowinds, commended the construction and maintenance crews who, he said, “worked hand-in-hand with dedication and pride.”

“I’m finding it difficult to find the right words. Inside I feel true joy. This is indeed a special day,” he said.“We will be a place of national prominence where people come for entertainment.”

Bart Kinzel, vice president and general manager of Carowinds, said he was proud of the accomplishment.

“Today is the greatest day in the history of Carowinds,” Kinzel said. “It was ironic that in the last couple of days before it opened, it was chaos to get everything done. Before you know it, it’s like a NASCAR event. There was a lot of teamwork and pride.”

Turning to look at the entrance to the roller coaster, Kinzel said he needed to send a message to the Intimidator crew.

“Gentlemen, start your engines,” he said.

The Intimidator

The new Intimidator ride is named and themed after racing legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. Consisting of seven hills and several twists and turns, the new ride is the tallest in the Southeastern United States, with one peak reaching 232 feet. It was constructed on the land at the theme park where the former log flume ride once operated. The coaster has also added 10 acres to the theme park, bringing the park to 122 acres.

The $23 million roller coaster, the largest single capital investment in Carowinds’ history, is the theme park’s 13th roller coaster.

It begins with a 211-foot first drop at a 74-degree angle. Over the course of the 3-minutes, 33 -second ride, riders travel up seven hills, which represent each of Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s seven championship wins. The wait line also resembles a race track, with video screens showing moments from Earnhardt’s life.

Also at the unveiling event last week were Jeff Steiner, CEO of Dale Earnhardt Inc., and Carey Earnhardt, the oldest son of Dale Earnhardt Sr.

“The name Intimidator says it all,” Carey Earnhardt said. “It’s a great way to remember my dad. I’m honored to be here.”

Job opportunities

Carowinds employs over 2,500 seasonal workers each year, including ride workers, behind-the-scenes employees and live entertainment performers. There are several professional full-time positions available as well, including those in accounting, information systems, human resources, maintenance, food, merchandise and marketing. Leadership opportunities are available in all departments.

To be considered for employment, applicants must be at least 15 years old and be eligible to work in the United States. Those under age 18 are required to show proof of age on a legal document. Carowinds conducts background checks on all applicants 18 years of age or older.  For questions about jobs call the Human Resources Employment Office at (704) 587-9006 or (803) 548-5300, extension 2006, or visit http://www.carowinds.com/public/jobs/index.cfm.