ROCK HILL - Thrill-seekers who got a sneak peek Friday at Carowinds' new Dale Earnhardt-themed Intimidator ride weren't just on a literal roller coaster Friday, but an emotional one as well.
Among the feelings elicited by what's billed as the tallest, fastest and longest coaster in the Southeast:
Regret. "About halfway up, I thought we'd made a mistake," said Rock Hill resident Mike Daly, 62, of the ascent to the huge initial drop, which measures 211 feet and dives at a 74-degree angle.
Nausea. "I had to close my mouth because I wasn't feeling too good," said Colton Clyburn, 11, also of Rock Hill. (He ended up reboarding at least two more times after that.)
Fear. Said Kelsey Peigler, a 17-year-old Olympic High School student: "I thought I was gonna fall out of my seat!"
The $23 million steel coaster - which boasts 5,316 feet of track and surges to speeds up to 80 miles per hour - is being unveiled to the public today, when the theme park opens its gates for the 2010 season.
Adding to the overall ride experience on Intimidator is the use of open-air, stadium-style seating on the trains, which are fashioned to mirror Dale Earnhardt's 1998 RCR No. 3 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. The design gives riders an unobstructed view of the Intimidator's seven steep drops - one for each of his NASCAR championships - and intense finish through a spectacular diving spiral.
And just remember: Once the safety restraint locks into place and the train begins to glide forward, you're not getting off the ride for another 3 minutes and 33 seconds.
No matter how much or how loud you scream.