Riding The Top Thrill Dragster

Major L. Eduardo Caraveo Major L. Eduardo Caraveo, 52, was among the victims of the shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas on November 5, 2009. Caraveo worked with bilingual special-needs students at Tucson-area schools before entering private practice. He was assigned to the 467th Combat Stress Control Army Reserve Detachment at Ft. Hood. southcom.mil

If you're looking for a great summer activity, you might want to head to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio, where the world's tallest and fastest roller coaster just opened. The Early Show sent its intrepid correspondent Melinda Murphy there to check it out.

So how was it?

Murphy says it is not like any other roller coasters she has ever ridden. This is one time when a picture is definitely worth a thousand words.

She caught up with some girls staring at the Top Thrill Dragster, the fastest and tallest roller coaster on planet Earth.

It stands a stratospheric 420 feet tall and goes from zero to 120 miles per hour in just four seconds.

Faster your seatbelts: To ride the Dragster, you have to get to Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio.

Matt Dingeldey made the trip from Orlando, Fla., just to ride the coaster. He says he has wanted to go to Cedar Point for a long time. "For like 12 years now, and I finally graduated from college and I gave myself a trip up here, especially to ride Dragster."

What coaster fan could blame him? After all, Cedar Point has 16 coasters, the most of any park in the world.

But the Dragster is special.

Sean Flaharty says it is his favorite ride and he has reasons to compare. He says he has ridden "over 500" roller coasters.

Paul Gray was first in line. When asked, he admitted he was nervous. And scared? "Probably a little," he said.

Coaster fan Shaunda Wierckz admitted she was nervous about the ride, but then, she said laughing, she was also nervous about being on TV.

But some weren't nervous at all.

Aaron Nelson was one of the youngest in line.Asked if he was freaked out by the Dragster, he plainly said, "No."

Others were equally secure with their decisions.

Manny Martinez was with his daughter Lucy, but he was not going to ride the coaster. "No. Absolutely not," he said.

Lucky for him, they've built bleachers for those wanting to study the ride - including some physics students taking their final exam.

"We have to calculate the acceleration," said student Mary Jo Oester.

All told, it's just under 20 seconds of sheer fun. Murphy says, lucky for her, she rode with one of the guys who built the coaster.

She says she was fine until they started moving. They moved for just a few feet and then waited and waited. Then it began.

There's something about going 120 miles per hour that just sucks the scream right out of you, she says. The coaster went straight up in the air and then they rolled back. Why backwards?

Once in a blue moon - when the track is too cold - the ride doesn't make it to the top. Coaster nuts live for such an event. Murphy was one lucky gal, she had to do it all again.

The second time, after going all the way to the top, she and the other riders plummeted straight down the 400-foot vertical drop where the train spiraled 270 degrees and again, they hit 120 miles per hour.

The speed she says, was incredible. But her favorite thing was seeing her face in slow motion; the G-forces gave her and the guy next to her a cheap facelift!

Dragster cost $ 25 million to build and it's Cedar Point's ninth record-breaking coaster. The park won't say what's next, but offiicals there do say the human body can withstand a bit more.
  • Tatiana Morales

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