My friend Doug and I drove to the middle of nowhere in Indiana to visit a favorite: The Blue Flash. We visited John Ivers and rode his coasters in 2007. Doug was able to visit in 2010, but it had been about four and a half years since my visit, and I was itching to go back.
We got to John Ivers' place before noon on June 3. The two blue roller coasters stand out among knee-high cornfields off U.S. Route 150. Blue Flash is his most famous coaster, with its lift hill on the side of a shed and full loop and helix. John fired up Blue Flash and gave it a test ride. After a couple of laps, it was my turn to go. The seat is a car seat on a chassis with wheels. The restraint is a bulldozer seat belt. John pushed me to the lift hill and up I went.
The day before I had ridden Voyage, Legend and Raven at Holiday World in the dark and while it was raining. Voyage is 163 feet tall. Blue Flash is maybe 20 feet tall. Yet Blue Flash filled me with a fear I hadn't felt in a long time. Was I going to die? Could I hold my head steady so my neck doesn't snap in the loop? Why can't I see the beginning of the drop from the top of the lift?
WHOOSH! Down I went. A high, sharp bank to the left swoops to ground level and immediately enters the loop. The G-forces are extremely high, and I held on for dear life. After exiting the loop, there's a small hill followed by the helix and a straightaway before the lift hill. Then the car engaged the chain again, and I went for a second lap. This time wasn't as scary, and I was a little more familiar with how to hold my body in the loop. After the ride, I got a third trip in a row on the scariest coaster ever built.
Then Doug rode. He traversed the drop, in the loop and helix. He rode again.
Now it was time for Blue Too, his smaller coaster that Doug and I were among the first people ever to ride. Blue Too has a number of improvements over Blue Flash. Though it doesn't have a loop, it has two cars, a mechanism at the top of the lift hill to turn off the chain after the car passes, a loading platform and a brake. The track also is several pieces held together with bolts, unlike Blue Flash, which is one continuous piece welded together.
John gave it one empty run before Doug got in. Doug sat in the back seat. After Doug's ride was my turn. The first drop is fun, and the ride's just gentle and relaxing. There are some slightly banked turns and a couple of little hills, but not like what Blue Flash has. The brake holds on tight, and the car stops abruptly in the station after the ride. It's an enjoyable ride and is good for non-thrill-seekers.
After riding both coasters, we talked with John and his wife for a little bit before heading out. He told us about testing Blue Flash when he first started building it. The lift, drop and loop were complete, but nothing else after that was. He wanted to know if it would make it through the loop. Sand bags flew out in the loop, so he strapped himself in and took it for a ride. He made it through the loop! But with the track unfinished, he landed in the grass. He laughed about that as he told us the story. The rest is history.
John said he'll sell the rides when he no longer has the means to maintain them. He doesn't want to try painting them again because it's difficult. Spray paint didn't work. He oils the chains twice a year and replaces the wheels on the cars. Blue Flash will have to be taken apart with a torch, but Blue Too can easily be removed. Blue Flash has some underground footers, while Blue Too rests on footers above the ground. He said he'd build the rest of the supports for Blue Flash's lift hill since the shed's not going anywhere.
John is a crazy genius. He's living the dream so many coaster enthusiasts have. When he wants to ride a coaster, he can just fire up his backyard masterpieces and ride, and he told us he does it occasionally. I'm glad we got to make this side trip after HoliWood Nights.
For videos of our rides from this year and 2007, check out my YouTube channel.