West Coast Racers Review – Get Ready To Race
This past weekend the long-awaited West Coast Racers opened for member and passholder previews at Six Flags Magic Mountain. We were lucky enough to get an invite from the park to come get a first ride on the new racing roller coaster.
West Coast Racers Experience
West Coast Racers was first announced way back in August 2018 as a new for 2019 roller coaster. Designed by Premier Rides, it uses their signature Linear Synchronous Motors (LSMs) to provide four total launches on the ride. The first track on the circuit turns into the second track for the next race, making it a “Mobius” style dueling coaster. So riders go through one side of the track first, then through the other side before getting off. After the train loads, it pulls out of the station on the white track alongside a train pulling out of the mid-course “pit stop” on the yellow track. From there, the trains take off and the race begins.
The First Circuit
The initial launch isn’t the massive acceleration you see from a lot of launch coasters. It’s a more gradual take off sending the trains up a hill into the first big element of the coaster. As the trains crest this first hill from the launch, they bank inwards towards each other for a high five effect. It provides a pop of air and the first of many awesome dueling moments. The trains take a 180 degree turn over the midway, with the white track going through a zero-G stall, crossing over and then back under the opposite train. These initial ten-ish seconds give a hint at where West Coast Racers really shines: the constant series of dueling and racing elements.
The ride then really enters the meat of the layout. The tracks dip-down into a hidden stretch blocked by walls on both sides. Here they hit the second pair of LSM launches. I’m not positive, but I’m pretty sure these boosts are where the ride hits its peak speed of 55 mph.
The trains pull up out of the boost into the best looking element on the whole track, a pair a rising parallel corkscrews.
The trains drop from the inversions into the “spaghetti bowl” of track, a set of back to back helixes where the trains cross over each other multiple times. It’s hard to tell in the photos, but it’s sort of a figure-8 shape, each helix being probably about a 270 degree turn.
The white track comes out of the second helix into a nice little air-time bump awhile the yellow track corkscrews over it before they head into the station. If I counted right, there are a total of at least seven different sections where the tracks cross over each other.
Mid-course Pit Stop and the Second Half
While the yellow track heads back into the main loading station, this is where the white track heads into the mid-course “pit stop”. The park partnered with famed auto shop West Coast Customs — probably best known for the TV show Pimp My Ride — on the design of West Coast Racers. You see that in the design of the trains, the station and queue (made to look like the West Coast Customs shop), throughout the new land (now called The Underground), and here in the pit stop.
As your train comes to a stop while you wait for the train you’ll be racing to load, a video showing highlights of West Coast Customs work plays. Then WCC founder Ryan Friedlinghaus comes on to tell you a bit about the ride, and offer you an upgrade. Sound effects below signal his crew working on your “car”. The pit-stop area is still a little bare, but the park is still working on the ride before the official opening date, and I’m guessing some decoration in the shed is part of the remaining effort.
Once the newly loaded train is ready, the two trains pull out of the parallel workshops, and you go through the race on the yellow track. I was worried it might feel like a long wait in the station, but the dispatch was quick enough that pretty much as soon as Friedlinghaus’ video finished, we started to pull out, and dispatches seemed pretty quick all day except when the ride went down (remember, technical rehearsals, they were working through kinks).
The second circuit mostly parallels the first, but there are a few different elements for the yellow track. Instead of the zero-G stall on the first turn you get an airtime hill (and the chance to look up at the hanging train above you). You also get an extra corkscrew crossover to close out the ride. In total through the two circuits you’ll experience four launches, four inversions, two high-five elements, four helixes, and a whole bunch of crossovers. West Coast Racers lasts about 3 minutes, give or take a little bit depending on how long the hold in the “pit stop” takes.
Overall Thoughts on West Coast Racers
I don’t think anyone would ever call it the most intense of coaster. It’s not the fastest, hitting “only” 55 mph, and it’s certainly not the tallest, mostly staying close to the ground. It doesn’t have the most inversions, the fastest accelerations, or the most air time. But a good coaster doesn’t need to break records to be fun. West Coast Racers excels in areas that make it a fun ride even if it isn’t breaking records. The dueling is some of the best I’ve ever experienced on a coaster. Constantly crossing back and forth over another train, with the two trains staying close together throughout, all while actually racing. The low to the ground sections, like the midcourse LSM boost and the back to back helixes, are exciting and keep the pace up throughout the ride. They might not be the most forceful, but they don’t slow down.
I saw multiple people on Twitter wondering why Magic Mountain needed this ride when they already had a dueling coaster in Twisted Colossus and a Premier Launch coaster in Full Throttle. After riding it, I think there are a couple of ways West Coast Racers still fits in their coaster lineup. First, its much less intense than either of them. While Twisted Colossus is awesome, it can be almost painful in how forceful it is (like a lot of RMCs), and Full Throttle is best known for its gigantic vertical loop. West Coast Racers fills a niche in the park for riders who aren’t quite ready for the X2s and Tatsus of Magic Mountain (or those of us who need a bit of a break after those).
More importantly though, West Coast Racers is better at a lot of what it does than Twisted Colossus or Full Throttle. I love Twisted Colossus (there’s a reason it made our list of top-10 steel coasters that opened in the 2010s), but I can’t remember the last time I got actually got to race on it. The turn around times just aren’t fast enough (not helped by the RMC trains). On the other hand, West Coast Racers will ALWAYS duel. The train in the pit stop can hold indefinitely until the train in the station is ready to go. It also helps that the trains only hold 12 people, so they should be able to load quickly.
On the Full Throttle side, it has a good launch, but I’ve always found it to be a kind of lacking coaster. Its elements just aren’t very interesting to me. Like I said in our rating of every Magic Mountain coaster, it feels like half a ride. In contrast, West Coast Racers packs its layout with interesting elements, especially when accounting for how much fun the dueling makes things like a helix or parallel corkscrew. It’s less intense, but it’s not less fun than Full Throttle.
So if you go in expecting West Coast Racers to knock your socks off and blow your mind away, you might be disappointed. But, if you go in expecting a moderate intensity ride that does some unique things, I think you’ll be very happy. It’s certainly one I’ll ride every time I’m at the park, and one of the best dueling coasters based on just on how well it does that.
While West Coast Racers was clearly the star of the morning, and had a giant line as soon as the park opened for member previews, the whole area got a major face lift, now known at “The Underground. The area is themed to LA streets, with large murals of graffiti art and street markings painted on the ground. This includes small touches like parking spot lines marked out in front of retail and food shops. The whole land is nicely book-ended by pathways under West Coast Racers with signs for “The Underground”. You can tell that the West Coast Customs team helped in the design of the whole land as well.
Along with the detailed design work, the area has new restaurants and retail spots, including one restaurant that wasn’t open yet. I tried the new Twin Charged Tacos, and, honestly, this may be the best meal I’ve ever had at a Six Flags park. I ordered the sopes topped with chili lime chicken. The huge portion came with a hot, fresh base, and a generous piling of beans, meat, and toppings. Later in the day I returned and got myself a cajeta stuffed churro, a special item for their “Taste of Holiday In the Park” food festival. It was freshly fried, and the cajeta filling was delicious. Major props to the Magic Mountain team for really upping their food game back here!
Magic Mountain has been refreshing sections of the park over the last few years as they’ve added new coasters, but this feels like the biggest and best of them all. You can guess that part of why West Coast Racers took so long to open is the amount of work that went into re-doing this whole corner of the park. If I had one concern it would be that the area is very exposed, so I can imagine it getting pretty toasty on a hot summer day. Luckily the West Coast Racers queue is nicely shaded. Also, it’s worth noting Apocalypse is open again, and it was running great (I took multiple rides on it after West Coast Racers got packed). For a forgotten section without much back there except Apocalypse before, this is an awesome rejuvenation.
West Coast Racers fully opens to the public on January 9th, 2019, but passholders and members can keep getting previews of through January 4th. Meanwhile the land is open, so you can get in there and ride Apocalypse and try out those sopes even if you aren’t a passholder. For more on the previews and opening date, check out the Six Flags Magic Mountain West Coast Racers page. And if you’ve already gotten a chance to ride, let us know in the comments what you think!