The concept behind the Derby Racer at Revere Beach, Massachusetts, was a fun one: Two trains raced down parallel tracks to a finish line at the bottom of the ride. You can imagine the scene as teenagers screamed and taunted one another as one car pulled ahead, then the other, through a series of dips and curves on the figure-eight-shaped course. But excitement and friendly competition often turned to tragedy thanks to the coaster's abysmal safety record.
Things got off to a bad start in June 1911 when the treasurer of the roller coaster company was fatally injured, ironically, when he stood up to lecture other passengers about safety. The accident, which was actually the second fatality of the year, forced local officials to revoke the ride's license until workers could install brakes and safety restraints in the passenger cars [source: The New York Times, June 10, 1911 and The Boston Daily Globe, June 9, 1911, June 12, 1911]. Apparently, however, the restraints didn't do much good. In 1917 a man lost his hat as the train headed up a steep incline, and he fell out of his car while attempting to recover it. He tumbled onto the other track where he was hit by a train and dragged 35 feet (10.7 meters). He died, according to the newspaper, after breaking "nearly every bone in [his] body" [source: The Boston Daily Globe and July 16, 1917].
In 1936 the Derby Racer was demolished, but not, evidently, because of its bad reputation. The roller coaster that replaced it was simply called "the new Derby Racer" [source: Francis and Francis].