Friday, July 27, 2012

Tales from the Firing Line- Test Track: The Legend of Car 19

Happy Friday!
And it's a wonderful Friday for Insanity Lurks Inside, because it's VACATION TIME!
I love vacation, even though our planned trip was cancelled due to circumstances beyond our control it's always nice to have a few days off from the grind! If nothing else it gives time to write out more fun pieces for you wonderful viewers! Cause viewers make me happy and hopefully I give all of you some entertainment too!

Since it's Friday, it's time for yet another "Tales from the Firing Line" and do I ever have a special tale for you today! While it's not a tale of 'When Stupid Attacks.." it is a story your not likely to hear unless you know the right folks who where in the right place, at the right time.

I present to you..

Test Track:
The Legend of Car 19 

Now like most of my stories, this one also requires a basic understanding of the situation. 
When Test Track opened, it was supposed to have exactly 33 ride vehicles. However, it opened with 32 which is still the same number which operated until it went down recently for the massive refurbishment.  The missing car was "Car 19" and let me tell you a story, passed to me from someone who was there to watch it in person.

Before any attraction opens, in any theme park across the country they go threw rather rigorous testing. Not only to work out the kinks in the programing but to ensure the ride is as safe as humans can make it. The more complex the ride and it's systems, the longer and more detailed the testing will be. 

Before Test Track soft opened to the public in December of 1998, they where going threw training and testing when this all began one night.

As we all can guess, the computers controlling Test Track are very complex and have multiple redundant systems controling every action of not only your ride vehicle but the elements of the ride also. This was a seriously complex system, one entire system was devoted to "Car" controls and another massive system controlled the ride elements (Such as the Hot and Cold testing as well as speed and breaking systems which are part of both computer systems).

When the ride went into testing mode before the soft opening, they ran several cars around the track under normal operating parameters, such as the exact show we've all seen. Things worked great!
Then those nice people, the engineers at WDI decided they wanted to know what would happen if there was a major failure or a massive computer problem, when the two controls (One for the cars and one for the Track) stopped communicating. This is when things got interesting.

This is as exact as I can remember it being explained to me.

"So they yanked a few cords to see what would happen just in case. Well they yanked the cords that kept the car in touch with the computer. Imagine a giant sound proof wall stuck in between two things trying to talk. The computer keeps yelling "STOP, STOP!" the car can't hear anything so it assumes everything is normal.. and translates that silence as "Okay, Go anyway!".

So the redundancies in the programing of the car allow it to remember the programed coarse, HOWEVER the braking on the speed test was controlled entire by the computer.
Yeah, so you see the problem and exactly where this is going!

The computer is going "Stop. Stop? STOP!!!" the car is going "Faster. Faster? FASTER!" making it's merry way around the track and as no surprise..  it completely missed the break spot thanks to no computer (telling it when to brake and if it missed the area to stop it) and well.. GIANT FUCKING HOLE was the result.

Car 19 ripped nearly in half with parts falling into the backlot, there was a huge whole in the steel side of the building. For a year or so one could spot the welding marks before they replaced that panel in 2009.  One half that car was dragged in from the emergency tow chains on the bottom. It was bad.. that's why they don't have a car 19 on the track.
 Some years later, another car was painted and marked as "Car 19" but for the first few years one simply didn't exist.  Rumor has it that in the "Testing" area of the queue line the remnants of Car 19 lurked but I was personally never able to find it. Now with Test Track being completely re-themed and refurbished, we may never know.

Now, before you panic.. the ride wasn't open yet when this happened! It's what is normally called "A dry test run" when no one, not even ride dummy's are in the ride vehicle.  So no humans or dummy's where hurt in the testing of this ride.. just the wall!
This also wouldn't be reported as an accident. It was technically still testing, it let them fix a flaw in the computer systems that otherwise would have existed without a heavy testing period. So now if communications did somehow get cut off between the cars and the computer system the ride can and will Emergency stop the entire ride, even in the middle of the speed run.

This has been the Legend of Car 19.

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