At age 18, he built one of Tucson’s first monster trucks, the Cyclops, which are now making their way across the country for shows and even featured in a Super Bowl commercial, he says.
But his “brutal” achievement isn’t what he’s known for around Tucson these days. Instead, it’s the handcrafted 190-foot roller coaster that sits in his yard, slightly hidden by the lush vegetation of the Sonoran Desert.
After posting pictures of the rollercoaster in the “Weird Stuff You’ll Only See in/Near Tucson” Facebook group last month, his post went viral, drawing news organizations and rollercoaster fans from across the country to chat about the unique home allure.
I was never on Facebook before my retirement. So I saw “Stranger Things on the Tucson Set” and thought, “Hey, that’s up the alley: weird,” he says. “It’s crazy how many people are calling and wanting to ride it from the East Back and I’ve got people from TikTok ripping every rollercoaster and wanting to ride it. That’s crazy.”
However, Dickman did not build a rollercoaster that sought national attention. He only wanted the attention of one person: his granddaughter Riley, whom he created five years ago when he found out he was going to be his grandfather.
“When I heard I was going to be serious, I got excited and built a roller coaster,” he says. “It was done before she was born.”
The roller coaster is now named “Riley” after his granddaughter.
Dykman spent three months building the roller coaster by hand, often working 10 hours on weekends and hours upon hours after full working days.
“It was fun. I had a great time figuring out the corners, like the speed of the chain going back to the top of the car,” he says of the experience. “It’s the only time I’ve used a Pi in my life, to see how fast it came and I was amazed that I remembered it.”
The roller coaster features a shiny Cerulean seat from a race car, 24 wheels of skateboard, a chain of straw balers and rollers of chicken plucker, says Dickman.
With the roller coaster able to gain speeds of up to 20 mph, the ship’s seat belt and handlebars ensure riders stay in place as they descend around a Palo Verde tree on the riding route.
Family and friends between the ages of 2 and 64 took a ride on a roller coaster.
And although Dykman puts a sign on the ship that it must be a certain ride height, he usually puts a step stool there, so it looks like the smallest members of the family reach the “required” height and can take slow steps for a ride on the ship.
“I had birthday parties with 10 to 15 kids, and there were probably, I don’t know, four (hundred) or 500 rides in them. We had no problems,” he says.
“I just love them to come see my grandfather.”
Although Dykman may not be one of Disney’s imaginations, he uses his 20 years of experience as a mechanic to create a sense of magic for his three grandchildren.
“It’s great to see them smile, laugh and have a good time,” he says.
For each new grandchild, he builds a new attraction on his possessions.
Over the past five years, he has built “The Riley” roller coaster, a miniature train for his three granddaughters, 5-year-old Riley, and 4-year-old Kinsley. 3 year old Paige. However, he had to remove the train due to the difficulty of the wheels in the desert terrain.
Although a roller coaster is the flashiest of all the attractions, kids’ favorite ride is the simplest and most exotic of them all: a whirlpool, which Dickman says they can spin for hours.
“They talk about having a fourth one (grandson). So I hope I get a fourth one and I will build something else.”
What could be the highest roller coaster? Well, Dickman isn’t sure either. However, he has one idea on his mind – a volcano waterfall that features red water and shoots, but it’s something he’d like to build in his brother’s house, he says.
No matter what he builds next, he always has the same goal in mind: to find a way to keep his grandchildren coming back to Grandpa’s house.
“I love them to come see my grandfather, you know, give them a reason to come here and keep them here, like when my kids were growing up,” Dickman says.
We do not recommend building a roller coaster in your home unless you are experienced with the craft. Check with your city or county for permit information.
FOX41 Yakima © FOX11 TriCities ©