Masters of disaster

Roller coaster designer Premier Rides earns its living dreaming up adrenaline-spiking terrors. We asked the company to tell us about its favorite, scariest and most unusual creations.

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Soaring above the Strip
Speed: The Ride
NASCAR Café, Sahara Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas
Date installed: 2000

This ride certainly lives up to its name: After boarding Speed inside the NASCAR café, passengers are promptly shot out a few feet above the Las Vegas strip, going from zero to 70 miles per hour within seconds.

Speed was one of the most complex rides developed by Premier, taking more than two years to complete. "Incorporating a ride into an existing building posed a lot of engineering challenges," says Premier Rides President Jim Seay.

Speed's rapid acceleration is made possible by Premier's linear induction motor, developed jointly with Paramount Parks. It's a computer-controlled system of electromagnets that injects energy into the ride very quickly at any point - and stops it equally suddenly.

The coaster's most stunning moment comes after a couple of underground dips and a loop-the-loop, when the car shoots vertically up 250 feet, only to reach the end of the track. Then the riders are taken through it all again -- in reverse. The coaster shoots back into its station in the NASCAR café at the same breakneck speed it launched at, all in full view of the restaurant's clientele.

NEXT: Cute cars and big bangs
LAST UPDATE: Mar 17 2009 | 11:22 AM ET
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