US 3674269 A
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United States Patent Cooper et al.
 APPARATUS FOR STARTING AND TERMINATING A TOY VEHICLE RACE  inventors: Julius Cooper, New Hyde Park; Edwin A.
Nielsen, Oceanside, both of NY.
 US. Cl. ..273/86 R, 46/1 K, 104/60  Int. Cl. ..A63f 9/14  Field of Search ..273/86 R, 86 B; 46/202, 1 K; 104/60; 238/10 A, 10 E, 10 F  References Cited UNITED STATES PATENTS 3,135,068 6/1964 Einfalt ..46/202 3,071,377 1/1963 Willett ..273/86 R 3,481,279 12/1969 Cooper 104/60 3,456,596 7/1969 Cooper... ..104/60 3,413,754 12/1968 Einfalt ..104/6O X Primary ExaminerAnton 0. Oechsle Attorney-Richard M. Rabkin  ABSTRACT An apparatus is described for starting and terminating a race between toy vehicles traveling over a toy track. A start-finish track section is provided with vehicle stalls which are successively arranged to receive arriving vehicles at the end of a race. Stall selectors are employed which are operated in sequence at the end of the race to divert the arriving vehicles into successive stalls in the order of vehicle arrival at the startfinish track section. The vehicle stalls are provided with vehi- 4 Claims, 11 Drawing Figures PATENTEBJUL 4 I912 SHEET NF 7 PKTENTEDJIJU4 1972 SHEET 2 OF 7 ME Y B PATENTEDJUL' 4 1972 SHEET 5 BF 7 INVENTORS quuus COOPER fl EDWIN A.NEILSEN SHEET 6 OF 7 PATENTEUJUL '4 [972 9 a NM mom P'A'TENTEDJuL' 4 I972 SHEET 7 UF 7 INVENTORS JULIUS COOPER EDNIN A. NEILSEN By M 78mm APPARATUS FOR STARTING AND TERMINATING A TOY VEHICLE RACE BACKGROUND AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION This invention generally relates to a mechanism for registering the results of a toy vehicle race in an automatic manner. More specifically, this invention relates to a mechanism for controlling the start and finish of a toy racing game.
Automatic racing games have achieved a wide degree of popularity with both adults and children. Such games usually include a miniature track assembly of interconnectable and interchangeable track sections which are capable of being arranged in a variety of track layouts or courses. Usually the play of the game involves the use of one or more miniature cars, each of which has a speed controller which enables the operator to make his vehicle traverse the race course at varying speeds. The winner of any given race is determined by the elapsed time for traveling the particular race course. Typical installations usually have plural racing lanes of approximately the same length. The finish of a race is commonly determined by the elapsed time for traversing the track. The traversal time, however, may be subject to dispute and may lack the exactness demanded by competitive play.
In an apparatus in accordance with the invention, a mechanism is provided whereby vehicles racing along a track towards a finish line are diverted into vehicle retaining stalls according to the order of the vehicle arrivals at the finish line.
In a preferred embodiment of the invention, access to the vehicle retaining stalls is controlled by vehicle actuated stall selectors interposed between the stalls and the racetrack. The stall selectors are located to divert arriving vehicles to stalls in the order of vehicle arrival. Thus, for instance, a first arriving vehicle is diverted onto a first stall, and upon entering such stall actuates a stall selector which directs the next vehicle onto the next successive stall, and so on, so that upon completion of a race all vehicles are lodged in stalls in an order corresponding to the results of the race.
A vehicle release mechanism is employed whereby vehicle retention devices may be simultaneously actuated to release the vehicles to traverse the track at the start of a race. Vehicle release is accompanied by automatic reset of the stall selectors. When the vehicles are traversing the race course for the last lap, a finish lever is actuated to divert the racing vehicles towards the finish line formed by the stalls.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. 1 is a top plan view of an exemplary racetrack utilizing a start-finish mechanism in accordance with the invention.
FIG. 2 is a broken perspective view of a portion of the racetrack and a vehicle mounted thereon for racing along the track.
FIG. 3 is an enlarged plan view of the start-finish mechanism of the invention.
FIG. 4 is an enlarged, exploded perspective view of separated start and finish sections forming the start-finish mechanism shown in FIG. 3.
FIG. 5 is a partial enlarged top plan view of the stall electors of the start-finish mechanism shown in FIG. 3.
FIG. 6 is an enlarged perspective view of a portion of the start-finish mechanism shown in FIG. 5, with a top member broken away to illustrate a stall selector in detail.
FIG. 7 is an enlarged perspective view of a portion of a start section employed in the start-finish mechanism shown in FIG. 3, with an upper plate partially broken away to illustrate a vehicle retaining device used in a stall.
FIG. 8 is an enlarged perspective view of a retaining device used in a stall.
FIGS. 9 and 10 are partial top plan views of the start section with elements thereof shown in different operational states.
FIG. 11 is a top plan view of the start-finish section with vehicles in position at the end of a race.
The same reference characters refer to the same element throughout the several views of the drawing.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT With reference to the drawings, and particularly to FIG. 1, a toy track layout 10, typical of many, is fonned by a plurality of connected track sections 12. The track sections 12 are provided with a race course including a pair of lane-defining grooves 14-14 which are aligned with one another to form a pair of parallel continuous inner and outer toy vehicle race lanes when track sections 12 are connected. Selected track sections such as 18 may. be formed with lane cross-overs to enable the vehicles to travel from inner lane 14 to the outer lane 14' and vice versa. Toy vehicle track 10 is preferably formed in the manner more specifically described in a copending U. S. Pat. application entitled Vehicle Racing Games, filed by Julius Cooper and Erwin Benkoe and identified as Ser. No. 868,449, filed on Oct. 22, 1969, and assigned to the assignee of the present invention.
With a toy vehicle racetrack as described in the above identified patent application, a vehicle 20 such as is illustrated in FIG. 2 is provided to traverse the grooved lanes 14 or 14' of the track sections. Each vehicle 20 is provided with a depending lane follower 22 which is shaped in the form of a pin to follow the grooves along the inner or outer race courses 14-14 The vehicle 20 may be self-propelled by an internal electric motor and battery power supply in a manner which is not a part of this invention and is well known in the art.
An advantageous feature of the track 10 is a start-finish device 24 which enables vehicles to be simultaneously launched onto the racing lanes 14-l4', and also provides a finish line which determines the order of finish of the vehicles at the end of a race. The start-finish device 24 includes a number of successive vehicle retaining stalls 26.1 through 26.4. The vehicle retaining stalls 26 include vehicle guideways 28.1 through 28.4 and 30-30 which couple the stalls 26 to racing lanes 14--14'. The start of a race is commenced by launching vehicles along these guideways 28 and racing lanes 14-14 in the direction of arrow 29, and a race is ended by diverting vehicles from the racing lanes 14-14 through guideways 30-30 to vehicle stalls 26. The stalls 26 thus function as a starting gate and as a finish line for the racing vehicles. A start lever 32 is provided to initiate simultaneous vehicle launching from the stalls 26, and the finish lever 34 controls the diversion of the racing vehicles from race lanes 14- 14' towards stalls 26.
While the vehicles are racing around the track tocomplete the number of laps desired, the players attempt to divert their respective vehicles into the shorter and inner race lane 14 ahead of the opponents vehicle, thus forcing him to take the longer outer race lane 14' for passing. When the vehicles are on the last lap, finish lever 34 is actuated to divert them to stalls 26.1 through 26.4, which the vehicles respectively enter in that order, in accordance with their order of arrival. As soon as the last vehicle has arrived in a stall, start lever 32 may be again actuated to launch vehicles onto the track and thus repeat several races in as hectic and quick a manner as the speed of the vehicles and the dexterity of the players permit.
The start-finish track device 24 is illustrated in greater detail in FIGS. 3 and 4. This device is formed of two separable portions: a start section 40 and a finish section 42 which are secured together (as are all the sections of track 10) by elements (for example elements 15) which interengage in response to a pivoting motion of the track sections (see arrow 17) as is well known in the toy field. Vehicles are guided to all the stalls 26 by a common vehicle guideway 44 coupled to guideways 30-30 and to the entrance of each stall 26. Entrance to the stalls is controlled by stall selectors 46 which are pivotally mounted on pins 47. One end 48 of each stall selector 46 is a trip lever which extends into one of the vehicle stalls 26 for actuation by the follower pin 22 of an entering vehicle, and the other end 49 of each stall selector 46 is a vehicle diverter located at the junction of the common vehicle guideway 44 and one of the stalls 26. The vehicle diverter ends 49 of the stall selectors 46 are in the form of switch blocks which, in the positions as shown in FIG. 3, allow the leading vehicle to reach stall 26.1. As soon as the leading vehicle enters stall 26.1, the trip lever end 48 of stall selector 46.1 is pivoted counterclockwise to bring its switch block 49 into the common guideway 44, thus diverting the follower pin 22 of the next arriving vehicle in a manner to close stall 26.1 and open vehicle stall 26.2. Stall selectors 46.2 and 46.3 respond in the same way to vehicles entering stalls 26.2 and 26.3 respectively, to close those stalls and open stalls 26.3 and 26.4 respectively.
Each stall 26 is provided with a pivotally mounted vehicle braking arm 50 that swings into a grooved guideway 28 to form a braking wedge for the follower pin 22 of a vehicle 20. The brake arms 50 may be shaped to trip a vehicle mounted switch (not shown) and disconnect electrical power from the vehicle motor drive.
A start slide 52 is located below the top plate 64 of start section 40, and operates brake arms 50 in response to actuation of start lever 32. Start slide 52 is mounted for movement in the directions indicated by arrows 54-54 (FIGS. and 8). Start slide 52 is provided with bent cam slots 56.1 through 56.4 which are engaged by pins 58 located on brake arms 50. The brake arms 50 are mounted for horizontal pivot movement about pivots 60.
The start-finish device 24 has a generally flat multilayered structural shape for stable mounting on the ground. The upper plate 64 of start section 40, and the upper plate 67 of finish section 42, are provided with the grooved racing lanes 14- 14 and guideways 28, 30 and 44. Start slide 52 forms a movable bottom plate which is slidably suspended from upper plate 64 by slide pins 61 which engage straight slots 63 in the start slide 52, which are oriented to define the direction of movement of the slide. Brake arms 50 and stall selectors 46 form an intermediate layer, and rest on the slide 52. The slide is spring loaded in the vehicle retaining position by a spring 65. In FIGS. 5 and 6 the structural features of the stall selectors 46 are illustrated in greater detail. Each stall selector 46 is fonned with a flat plate 62 which rests on start slide 52 and is pivotally engaged by the upper plate 64 of the start section 40. The pivot pin 47 extends downwardly from upper plate 64 to engage a hollow in a cylindrical post 68 mounted generally midway of stall selector plate 62.
The trip lever ends 48 of the stall selectors 46 protrude through cut-outs 70 in side walls 72 of the guideways 28 for actuation by the follower pin 22 on a vehicle 20. Trip lever end 48 is formed with an extended raised edge 74 which is curved parallel with the curvature of the guideway 28 at the cut-out 70. A raised vehicle post 76 is located at the end of edge 74 facing oncoming vehicles, to assure vehicle engagement with the stall selector 46.
Each selector 46 is normally pivoted to a reset position as illustrated in FIG. 6, whereby its trip lever end 48 protrudes into the associated guideway 28. When a vehicle enters that guideway, the trip lever end 48 is pivoted counterclockwise until edge 74 is flush with side wall 72. The side wall 72 is cut away to from a V-shaped recess 80 which receives the post 76 to clear guideway 28 and allow the vehicle to enter stall 26.
Each plate 62, e.g. that of stall selector 46.2, is so shaped that its switch block end extends to the junction of common guideway 44 and the next succeeding guideway, i.e. 28.3. Each switch block 49 is shaped to provide a non-diverting surface 82 aligned with wall 84 of common guideway 44 when the stall selector 46 is pivoted to an extreme clockwise (i.e. reset) position. When the stall selector is pivoted to an extreme counterclockwise, or tripped, position as indicated in short dashed lines in FIG. 5, a diverter surface 86 e.g. of selector 46.1 is aligned with wall 88 of the next guideway 28.2, and protrudes into common guideway 44 to direct oncoming vehicles towards vehicle stall 26.2
Resetting of tripped stall selectors 46 is achieved by engagement between the switch block end of plate 62 and the slide plate 52 as the latter is operated in the direction of arrow 54, i.e. from vehicle release to vehicle retaining position. This engagement is achieved by slide plate protrusions 90 formed on the boundary of an internal opening 91 cut into the slide plate 52, and extending towards each selector plate 62. As slide plate 52 is moved, these protrusions 90 contact their respective plates 62 and pivot all the stall selectors 46 clockwise to their reset positions.
FIGS. 7 and 8 illustrate a typical stall such as 26.4 in greater detail. The brake arm 50.4 thereof is formed of a flat plate resting on start slide 52, and pivotally engaged with top plate 64 of start section 40. A pivot pin 60.4 extends from brake arm plate 100 into a recess 102 in top plate 62. A brake edge 104 extends upwardly from the plate 100, and when the plate 100 pivots the edge 104 may be moved through a cut-out 106 in side wall 88 of guideway 28.4 in either direction to stop or release a vehicle.
The brake arm 50.4 is positioned over cam slot 56.4 with which it is engaged by means of a depending pin 58.4. The cam slot 56.4 includes an idle segment 108 which is parallel with the direction of motion of start slide 52, and trailing active segment 110 which is slanted to cause pivotal movement of stop arm 50 in the directions indicated by arrows III-- 111. Thus, for motion of start slide 52 in the direction of arrow 54 when pin 58.4 is at the location in cam slot 56.4 illustrated in FIG. 8, the brake arm is pivoted clockwise about pin 60.4 when pin 58.4 engages the active cam slot segment 110. Each vehicle stall further is provided with guide edges such as 112 located alongside the brake arms 50 and angled to decelerate rapidly arriving vehicles.
Returning to the view of FIG. 3, it can be seen that the cam slots 56 are shaped to provide selective control as to which pair of stalls 26 are to be actuated. Cam slots 56.1 and 56.2 are each formed with an idle segment 114 which is parallel with the direction of movement of slide 52, and a leading rather than a trailing active segment 116 oriented to cause pivotal movement of brake arms 50.1 and 50.2. As to cam slots 56.3 and 56.4, however, their active segments 110 trail their idle segments 108. As a result, either all stalls 26 are in the vehicle retaining state (for the start slide position illustrated in FIG. 3, i.e. pins 58 at the lead ends of slots 56), or only stalls 26.1 and 26.2 are in the vehicle release state (for the start slide position illustrated in FIG. 9, when pins 58 are between the idle and active segments of slots 56), or all stalls are in the vehicle release state (for the start slide position illustrated in FIG. 10, when pins 58 are at the trailing ends of slots 56).
Placement of start slide 52 is controlled by start lever 32 which (as shown in FIG. 3) is pivotally mounted upon start section 40 by pin 124 for movement in a horizontal plane. One end of lever 32 is provided with a pin 126 which engages a slot 128 in the start slide 52. With the start lever 32 pivoted to the illustrated extreme counterclockwise position (FIG. 3), the start slide is at a position such that all brake arms 50 have been pivoted to a vehicle retaining position as shown in FIG. 3.
When the start lever 32 is pivoted to the FIG. 9 position 120, start slide 52 is moved to a position which causes pins 58.1 and 58.2 to traverse the active segments 116 of cam slots 56.1 and 56.2, while pins 58.3 and 58.4 merely traverse parallel cam slot segments 108. Thus only stalls 26.1 and 26.2 are opened to release their vehicles to racing lane 14'.
Continued pivotal movement of start lever 32 to the position illustrated in FIG. 10 causes the start slide 52 to bring pins 58.3 and 58.4 into operative engagement with active cam slot segments 110, opening the remaining stalls 26.3 and 26.4. Reverse (i.e. clockwise) movement of start lever 32 causes closure of stalls 26.3 and 26.4 first, and then of the remaining stalls.
Returning to FIGS. 3 and 4, finish section 42 is of flat construction similar to start section 40. A finish slide 124 is mounted below the upper surface of section 42 and slidably mounted to the upper surface with rivets 126 engaging main guide slots 128. These main guide slots are aligned to guide the finish slide along the directions indicated by arrows 130.
Finish slide 124 traverses the facing lanes 14-14' at their junctions with guideways 30-30 respectively. Upstanding switch elements 132-132 are mounted and oriented on finish slide 120 for movement therewith into racing lanes 14- 14' respectively when the race is to be ended.
Finish lever 34 is pivotally mounted to finish section 42 at pivot 134, and one end 136 of that lever is provided with a pin 138 which engages a curved slot 140 in the finish slide 124. Slot 140 is oriented and shaped so that the switch elements 132l32' may be retracted (when lever 34 is the solid line position of FIG. 3) into recesses 142-142 formed in the side walls of racing lanes 14-14 respectively. When finish lever 34 is actuated to end a race, it is moved to the dashed line position in FIG. 3 (see also FIG. 11) to bring the switch elements 132-132 into the racing lanes 14-14' and divert the vehicles from the racing lanes via guideways 30-30 towards stalls 26.
The advantageous features of the start-finish device 24 may be more fully appreciated in view of the following description of operation. Assuming that four vehicles 20 are mounted in respective stalls 26, the first pair of vehicles are released from stalls 26.1 and 26.2 to racing lanes 14-14' respectively by moving start lever'32 from its FIG. 3 position to its FIG. 9 position. Subsequently the vehicle from stall 26.3 is released to lane 14 (behind the vehicle from stall 26.1) and the vehicle from stall 26.4 is released to lane 14' (behind the vehicle from stall 26.2) when start lever 32 continues to the position shown in FIG. 10. These operations cause start slide 52 to release the brakes in the stalls 26, which is followed by a rush of the vehicles onto racing lanes l4-14.
After the vehicles have been released, the spring 65 acts on the start slide 52 to return the latter to its vehicle retaining position, illustrated in FIG. 3. As slide 52 is returned, the resetting projections 90 are moved past the switch blocks 49 to reset the stall selectors 46.
After the vehicles have traversed the track 10 a desired number of laps, the finish lever 34 is actuated to the position illustrated in FIG. 11 to divert the vehicles to the start-finish track section 24. Because stall selectors 46.1 through 46.3 are reset, the first vehicle to arrive is permitted to pass the last three stalls 26.4, 26.3 and 26.2 in that order, finally entering the first stall 26.1. As the first vehicle enters the first stall 26.1, the first stall selector 46.1 is tripped and pivoted into a stall opening position, diverting the next arriving vehicle into the second stall 26.2 This latter vehicle then trips the second stall selector 46.2, so that the third arriving vehicle is diverted to the third stall 26.3, tripping the third stall selector 46.3. As a result, the last, or fourth, vehicle is diverted into the fourth stall 26.4.
It will now be appreciated that the precise registration of the race result is obtained, since the successive vehicle stalls correspond to the other of vehicle finish at the end of the race.
What is claimed is:
l. A mechanism for starting and terminating a race between toy vehicles adapted to race along a toy track formed with a racing course shaped to guide the vehicles from a starting position to a terminating position; said mechanism comprismg:
a track section provided with vehicle retaining stalls with guideway courses shaped for transfer of vehicles from said stalls to said racing course, each of said vehicle stalls being provided with releasable vehicle retaining means,
means for controlling the vehicle retaining stalls for simultaneous release of a plurality of vehicles upon start of a race,
means for diverting racing vehicles from the racing course to the vehicle stalls,
a stall selector located between the vehicle stalls and the diverting means responsive to an earlier arriving vehicle to direct a later arriving vehicle away from an occupied stall to an empty vehicle stall whereby to arrange the racing vehicles in the order of their arrival, said stall selector being pivotally mounted to the track section, one end of said stall selector protruding into a first vehicle guideway leading to a first vehicle stall for pivotal actuation by a vehicle entering said first stall, and the other end of the stall selector extending to the entrance to a second vehicle stall, said other stall selector end having the shape of a switch block with a first vehicle guide surface shaped to close entry of the second vehicle stall and a second vehicle guide surface shaped to divert vehicles to the second vehicle stall upon pivotal actuation of said stall selector whereby arriving vehicles are directed into vehicle stalls in the order of their arrival, said means for controlling the vehicle stalls including a start slide movably mounted to the track section and operatively coupled with each of the vehicle stalls to effect vehicle release and vehicle retention by the stalls upon movement of the start slide, said start slide being provided with reset means operatively engaging the stall selector for reset thereof upon start slide movement.
2. An apparatus for starting and finishing a toy vehicle race over track sections having a vehicle racing course; comprising:
a start-finish track section of generally flat structure formed with an upper plate provided with an interconnected vehicle racing course and vehicle guideways,
vehicle retaining stalls operatively associated with said vehicle guideways to receive vehicles traveling therealong,
vehicle actuated stall selectors operatively located between the vehicle retaining stalls and the racing course, said stall selectors being arranged to divert arriving vehicles to the stalls in the order of their arrival, means for operating said vehicle retaining stalls in unison to launch a plurality of vehicles simultaneously into the racing course, means for switching the vehicles from the racing course into the vehicle guideways towards the vehicle retaining stalls, said vehicle retaining means being fonned of a plurality of vehicle brake arms each disposed alongside a vehicle guideway for movement relative thereto and a start slide supported beneath the upper plate and operatively coupled to each of the vehicle brake arms whereby operative movement of said braking arms occurs in response to movement of the start slide, and means for coupling the start slide to the brake arms, said coupling means including cam slots and cam slot follower pins, said cam slots being provided with respective idle segments substantially parallel to the direction of movement of the start slide and respective active segments oriented to cause movement of the brake arms, at leas one of said cam slots having its active segment in leading relationship, and at least one other of said cam slots having its active segment in trailing relationship, with their respective idle segments, whereby a given direction of start slide movement provides sequential operation of the brake arms with said leading segment and trailing segment cam slots.
3. A mechanism for starting and terminating a race between toy vehicles adapted to race along a toy track having a racing course shaped to guide the vehicles from a starting position to a finish; said mechanism comprising:
a start-finish track section of a generally flat multilayered structure and formed with an upper plate having vehicle guideways shaped to couple to the racing course, said vehicle guideways being located on a side of the racing course and arranged to define vehicle stalls each of which has separate racing course access means for the vehicles and a common vehicle guideway shaped to receive vehicles exiting from the racing course and guide the vehicles to the vehicle stalls,
a start slide plate movably mounted below the upper plate and spaced underneath the vehicle stalls and common vehicle guideway,
vehicle brake arms resting on the start slide and disposed to move into said vehicle stalls to engage vehicles, said brake arms being pivotally engaged with the upper plate and provided with cam followers, said start slide having cam slots operatively coupled with the cam followers of the vehicle brake arms, said cam slots being oriented relative to the movement of the start slide to cause said vehicle brake arms to pivot relative to the vehicle stalls,
a stall selector pivotally engaged with the upper plate and operatively located at the junction formed by the common vehicle guideways and vehicle stalls and supported between the start slide and the upper plate, one end of the stall selector protruding into a first vehicle stall for pivotal actuation by a vehicle, and the other end of the stall selector being provided with a switch block shaped to close the