One crazy ride!
Located on Lake Shafer in Monticello, US park Indiana Beach has just introduced a jaw-dropping tower coaster. Steel Hawg is the first El Loco model from S&S Worldwide and, according to Paul Ruben, it’s one crazy ride.
This, one of the 82-year-old park’s largest investments to date, is Indiana’s first major steel coaster. Steel Hawg is also Indiana Beach’s sixth rollercoaster and the first to take riders upside-down.
The ride features a 120-degree first drop, now the steepest in the US. More than 400 riders per hour race through the 1,384ft-long layout in what feels like four layers, descending lower with each turn-around.
Seated in single four-passenger cars, riders reach speeds of up to 41 mph and are turned upside-down twice. They negotiate tight turns, 90-degree banks, inversions and various unique elements during the 65-second ride. The most startling element is a 45-degree outwardly banked 180-degree turn. It’s so wrong and so bizarre, but taken at moderate speed it works.
The public’s reaction to Steel Hawg so far has been impressive. “The response from the guests has been overwhelmingly positive,” reports John S Collins, general manager of Indiana Beach Resort. “From the high speed run up the lift hill, to the 120-degree first drop, the 45-degree outwardly banked turns and the inversions, the ride has a fantastic and exciting pace.”
Stan Checketts, CEO of S&S Worldwide, was sure Collins would be pleased: “I consider El Loco to be an amazing coaster. We have packed many different elements into a very small footprint, including an amazing 120-degree first drop and a delightful barrel roll, and our team tied all of these fun aspects into some very smooth and perfectly timed transitions. The pacing couldn’t be any better.”
Collins rides frequently, and loves it: “I like all aspects of the ride, however the outward turn and roll are my favourite part. Not only is it a fantastic attraction, the ride and structure is striking and it is as much fun to watch as it is to ride. S&S delivered a first class ride experience in a small footprint.”
The very compact Steel Hawg occupies a ground space of just 90 by 200ft, but rises 100ft into the air. At the top of the lift hill riders briefly enjoy a postcard view of the park and lake. Since the first appearance of the Screamin’ Squirrel in 2002, S&S has worked to perfect its version of a tower coaster, and El Loco is the answer. It is unlike any other coaster anywhere.
The sleekly-styled orange and black cars seen at Indiana Beach are reminiscent of those on the Screamin’ Squirrel, complete with a snug lap bar and a redundant shoulder restraint. The biggest difference between the Squirrel and El Loco, however, is the addition of so many different elements. S&S let senior engineer Alan Schilke create something new and different. Though the manufacturer made a name for itself with the air-powered rides, air is used on Steel Hawg only to activate the restraint system at the loading platform. The biggest challenge for S&S was to complete the necessary design work, engineer the ride and produce and install a world-class coaster in less than eight months from signing of the contract.
“Indiana Beach wanted a coaster that would complement their fun personality and draw families to the park,” concludes Checketts. “The ride itself was planned to contain as many exciting elements as possible in a very small footprint and to provide a ride experience that was thrilling but not too intimidating.”
The choice of the name Steel Hawg, incidentally, does not refer to a metal swine, but rather a large motorcycle, which is colloquially referred to as a “hawg.” Specifically, it pays homage to the late actor James Dean, born 70 miles east of Indiana Beach in 1931, and who famously loved bikes. Now you know.
Under New Management
In addition to Steel Hawg, Indiana Beach also features over 30 other rides and attractions, a large sightseeing paddleboat, miniature golf, two campgrounds and a hotel. The adjacent waterpark features six slides, a sprayground, and an action river, while the boardwalk features a sandy beach, shopping, dining and dancing.
It was the campgrounds in particular that encouraged new owner Morgan RV Resorts to purchase the property from the Spackman family back in February of this year. The largest private owner and operator of RV (recreational vehicle) parks and resorts in the United States, Morgan’s destination resorts provides affordable family getaways combined with add-ons like swimming pools, playgrounds and various other entertainment options. Why not an amusement park too?
Indiana Beach was founded as Ideal Beach in 1926 by Earl Spackman with his son, Tom, working alongside him. When his father passed away in 1946, Tom took over. A year later he introduced the first permanent rides. The Spackman family vision drove Indiana Beach to grow from a swimming area in a cornfield to the largest amusement resort and vacation playground in Indiana, a destination enjoyed by nearly 750,000 visitors annually. Several Spackman family members are still working for the park, and in fact Tom Spackman continues to dine in the Skyroom restaurant almost daily.
Since acquiring Indiana Beach Resort, Morgan has not only invested in Steel Hawg but also spruced up the park by painting various facilities, adding new sides to buildings, planting more flowers and introducing more landscaping. There are also new food and games locations throughout the park and a number of additional accommodation options. A range of fresh ticket options has also been introduced to enable guests to enjoy the park for two or three consecutive days at a reduced rate. Indiana Beach remains open weekends until October 26.