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Publication numberUS3707804 A
Publication typeGrant
Publication dateJan 2, 1973
Filing dateAug 25, 1970
Priority dateAug 25, 1970
Also published asCA920812A1, DE2100472A1
Publication numberUS 3707804 A, US 3707804A, US-A-3707804, US3707804 A, US3707804A
InventorsCook J
Original AssigneeMattel Inc
Export CitationBiBTeX, EndNote, RefMan
External Links: USPTO, USPTO Assignment, Espacenet
Grooved track for toy vehicles
US 3707804 A
Abstract
A track for self-powered or coasting type toy vehicles which allows passing of slower vehicles by faster ones by encourgaging lane changing when vehicles bump one another prior to passing, while thereafter reducing the tendency of vehicles to wander from one side of the track to the other. The track has several low ridges extending along its length for urging vehicles to run straight along the track, the ridges being low enough and being rounded to enable a vehicle to easily climb over them to another section of the track. The ridged track section is used along banked curves to reduce the tendency for vehicles to climb the curve and is used along straight-away sections to enable passing while reducing wandering tendencies.
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Description  (OCR text may contain errors)

United States Patent 1 Cook 1 1 Jan. 2, 1973 [54] GROOVED TRACK FOR TOY VEHICLES Primary Examiner-Drayton E. Hoffman Assistant Examiner-Richard A. Bertsch [75] Inventor. John S. Cook, Sunnyvale, Calif. Anomey seymour A Scholnick [73] Assignee: Mattel, Inc., Hawthorne, Calif. 22 Filed: Aug. 25, 1970 [57] ABSTRACT Appl. No.: 66,757

A track for self-powered or coasting type toy vehicles which allows passing of slower vehicles by faster ones by encourgaging lane changing when vehicles bump one another prior to passing, while thereafter reducing the tendency of vehicles to wander from one side of the track to the other. The track has several low ridges extending along its length for urging vehicles to run straight along the track, the ridges being low enough and being rounded to enable a vehicle to easily climb over them to another section of the track. The ridged track section is used along banked curves to reduce the tendency for vehicles to climb the curve and is used along straight-away sections to enable passing while reducing wandering tendencies.

6 Claims, 7 Drawing Figures PATENTED N 2 I975 SHEET 2 BF 2 GROOVED TRACK FOR TOY VEHICLES BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION connections to a track can engage in races along the track wherein they pass one another by changing lanes, in the same manner as actual racing drivers pass one another. If a wide track is used which is smooth and flat, the vehicles can readily change lanes to pass. However, the vehicles then tend to repeatedly carom from one side wall to the other on a long straight run. The caroming vehicles may approach the side walls at a great enough angle to spin out of control, or may crash sideways into one another with enough force to overturn. A track which urged vehicles to move along even straight sections in a stable manner while allowing vehicles to readily pass one another, and which increased stability on curves, could make such vehicle races even more entertaining.

OBJECTS AND SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION An object of the present invention is to provide a track for toy vehicles, which encourages stable vehicle motion along them while encouraging the passing of slower vehicles by faster ones.

Another object of the present invention is to provide a banked curve section for toy vehicles, which promotes stability of the vehicles therealong.

In accordance with one embodiment of the present invention, a track for toy vehicles is provided which maintains the vehicles in a stable path to prevent wandering, yet which enables the vehicles to change lane position. The track has a vehicle-supporting surface which contains several parallel ridges that tend to confine the vehicle wheels to movement along the length of the track. The ridges, having a very low height, are rounded to allow the vehicle to move over them in a stable manner to change lane position when the vehicle is subjected to small lateral forces. Accordingly, when a faster moving vehicle bumps into a slower vehicle ahead of and slightly to one side of it, the vehicles tend to change position on the track so that the faster vehicle can pass the slower one. The ridges are spaced from one another by a distance which is much less than the lateral spacing of the vehicle wheels, so that there are many stable positions of the vehicle on the track. The track with ridges can be utilized on a banked curve to tend to turn the vehicle into the curve for stable motion therealong.

The novel features ofthe invention are set forth with particularity in the appended claims. The invention will be best understood from the following description when read in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS FIG. I is a partial perspective view of a track layout utilizing track sections constructed in accordance with the invention;

FIG. 2 is a view taken on the line 2-2 of the track of FIG. I, with a toy vehicle thereon;

FIG. 3 is an enlarged end view ofa ridge of the track of FIG. 1;

FIG. 4 is a view taken on the line 4-4 ofthe track of FIG. 1;

FIG. 5 is a view taken on the line 5-5 of the track of FIG. 1;

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of a straight section of the track of FIG. I, showing the manner in which cars change lines to pass; and

FIG. 7 is a view similar to FIG. 6, showing the vehicles during passing.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENTS FIG. 1 illustrates a track constructed in accordance with the invention, which includes straight track sections l0, l2 and a curve section 14, the various track sections being connected in series to form a track layout. The layout is typically formed in a closed loop and can be used to race toy vehicles of the type shown at 16 in FIG. 2. The width W ofthe track is sufficient to carry at least two vehicles side-by-side so that they can pass one another. Although unpowered vehicles can be used which are given a boost of speed by an accelerating device positioned along the layout, self-propelled cars can be used of the type which carry a rechargeable battery and electric motor. The track has a vehicle-supporting surface 18 that maintains the vehicle in stable motion along both straight-aways and curves, but which also enables a faster vehicle to pass a slower vehicle even if the faster vehicle initially approaches the slower one from behind it instead of in a different lane.

The vehicle-supporting surface l8 has several parallel ridges 20 extending along the length of the track, which provide the required amount of stability for encouraging a vehicle to remain in its lane position while allowing it to change lane position for passing. The wheels 22, 24 of the vehicle generally move along grooves 26 that are formed between the ridges, while one of the wheels such as wheel 22 shown in FIG. 2 engages a ridge. The ridge 20 urges the wheel to remain in its lane position. The front wheels of many types of vehicles are fixed in steering orientation, so they tend to roll the vehicle straight ahead. When the vehicle enters the curved track section l4, it tends to continue in a straight line and strike the outer rail 28 at the side of the track. Of course, this is undesirable because the vehicle may fly over the rail or carom off it in an unstable manner that may cause spinout or upsetting, particularly if the vehicle strikes another one. The ridges 20 at the beginning region 30 of the curve section tend to steer the wheel around the curve and prevent it from hitting the outer side rail. The ridges also aid in stable motion for a slow moving car that traverses a highly banked curve. The ridges not only produce better performance in travel about a curve, but allow a vehicle within a wider speed range to traverse a curve of predetermined banking and curvature.

The nominally straight track sections best shown in FIGS. 5, 6 and 7 are designed to reduce the tendency of toy vehicles to wander on a long straight region of track. When a car wanders in this manner, it may carom from one side wall to the other, resulting in loss of speed, the possibility of climbing the walls and leaving the track, and crashing into another vehicle so hard that they turn over. However, the ridges are low enough to enable vehicles to pass one another in a stable and entertaining manner. FIG. 6 illustrates the situation where one vehicle 16A moves faster and approaches another vehicle 168, the slower vehicle 168 partially blocking the path of the other. When the faster vehicle 16A bumps into the other vehicle 168, some instability is established which causes the vehicles to veer to one side. If both vehicles veer to the same side, a second bump will take place. Ifone vehicle 16A veers to the right as shown by arrow 31 while the other veers to the left, then the path of the faster vehicle will not be blocked. The faster vehicle USA can then pass the other one in the manner shown in FIG. 7.

After one vehicle bumps the other and they change lane position, there is a tendency for both of them to move at an angle to the track length until they hit the side rails 28. However, the ridges 20 tend to stabilize the paths of the vehicles, to urge them to thereafter travel straight along the length of the track. A proper height and configuration of the ridges 20 is important in allowing vehicles to ride over them in a stable manner while allowing the ridges to generally maintain a straight vehicle path. Referring again to FIGS. 2 and 3, each ridge 20 has a height H which is much less than the radius R of the wheel of a toy vehicle which runs along the track. In addition, the walls 33, 35 of the ridge are rounded. These walls form troughs 26 in which at least some of the vehicles lie. It is desirable that the height H of the ridges be less than about onefifth the radius R ofthe smallest wheels to run along the track, in order to facilitate climbing of the wheels over the ridges. Generally, a ridge height of less than onetenth R is preferred. it is also desirable that a majority of the height of each ridge wall extend at an angle A of more than a few degrees from the vertical. In the case of a banked track whose width does not extend horizontally, the angle A may be taken with respect to an imaginary line P extending across the width of the track. The ridges 20 do not have to be round, but can instead have sloping sides, extending at an angle A of more than several degrees to facilitate wheels rolling over them. It is preferable to employ vehicle wheels with sharp corners, to minimize any tendency to climb the ridges prior to a disturbance of the vehicle.

As previously mentioned, the width W of the track should be great enough to accommodate at least two vehicles that are side-by-side. Generally, a width somewhat greater than this, such as one which is about three to four times the width ofthe vehicle I6 is utilized to provide substantial clearance between passing vehicles, The distance D between adjacent ridges 20 is substantially less than the distance L between the outsides of the wheels 22, 24 ofthe vehicle. A major reason for this is to provide a stabilizing ridge before a vehicle has wandered far from a straight path. Thus, in order for a vehicle to carom from one side rail to the other, it must pass over several ridges, each of which tends to return it to a straight path. The distance D between adjacent ridges is made large enough so that the trough 26 can accommodate at least the front or rear wheels of the widest tread vehicle wheels which are likely to be used. The use of several closely spaced ridges also provides many lane positions to increase the number of relative positions at which cars bump one another, to add realism. in a typical vehicle set, the track will have a width W sufficient to accommodate about three vehicles, and each vehicle will have tires with a radius R about onesixth the width of the vehicle, so that the track has a width W equal to about 18R. For a ridge height H less than about one-fifth the radius R of a vehicle wheel, the ridge height H is therefore less than about one-hundredth the width W of the track. Thus, the tracks typically have ridge heights less than about one-hundredth the width of the track.

The straight track sections [0, 12 are generally formed of a flexible plastic material in an extrusion process, so that the tracks have a constant cross-section along their length. As shown in FIG. 5, the straight track sections have brackets 32 formed along their lower surfaces. These brackets can receive tongues 34 formed in the curved section l4 to enable the straight and curved sections to be held together. The curved section l4 typically has a first portion 30, where it connects to the straight track section, which is already banked, though at a small angle. The flexible straight track section can readily twist so that the track defines a vehicle supporting surface which smoothly increases in banking angle from zero to the maximum. The generally flat configuration of the track makes it easy to produce, and the use of ridges assures stability even if the track warps slightly into a somewhat convex or concave shape in cross-section.

Although ridges 20 are shown which appear as rounded bumps protruding from an otherwise flat track surface, a variety of other types of groove-forming means can be utilized to provide grooves along which vehicle wheels can move. For example, a track can be formed whose cross-section displays numerous scallops into which vehicle wheels are received. Another alternative, which can be utilized with vehicles wherein the front wheels have a narrower tread than the rear wheels, employs grooves which arejust wide enough to receive the front wheels. The back wheels then ride on the top of the track so they do not scrape along any ridges or the like. The walls of the ridges can be more steeply inclined on one side than on the other to encourage vehicles to move towards one side of the track or to maintain them in the middle ofthe track. It is also possible to provide short track sections which are free of ridges, to encourage wandering therealong, and to provide other track sections with substantially higher ridges.

Although particular embodiments of the invention have been described and illustrated herein, it is recognized that modifications and variations may readily occur to those skilled in the art and, consequently, it is intended that the claims be interpreted to cover such modifications and equivalents.

What is claimed is:

l. Toy vehicle apparatus comprising:

a toy vehicle which has at least one pair of wheels that are laterally spaced by at least a predetermined distance; and

an elongated track with a generally flat vehicle supporting surface which is wider than said predetermined distance at which said wheels are laterally spaced, by at least twice said distance; a plurality of substantially parallel narrow spaced ridges ex said ridges are laterally spaced by distances greater than the thickness of said vehicle wheels, and said ridges have side walls which are rounded at least at their tops to encourage said vehicles to climb over said ridges when said vehicles are urged to move sidewardly.

The apparatus described in claim 1 wherein:

said ridges have a height of less than one-fifth the radius of each of said wheels. The apparatus described in claim 1 wherein:

said ridges are laterally spaced from each other by a distance which is less than said predetermined distance at which said wheels are laterally spaced, but which is more than the thickness of the wheels 5. Toy vehicle track apparatus comprising: an elongated track a vehicle supporting surface defining a plurality of substantially parallel ridges extending in a direction along the length of the track and defining wheel-supporting grooves between said ridges, said track surface being substantially flat between said ridges and said ridges being rounded at their tops.

6. The toy vehicle track apparatus described in claim 5 including:

first and second toy vehicles, each having a pair of laterally spaced front wheels; and wherein said track is wider than the combined width of both of said toy vehicles, said ridges are laterally spaced by less than the lateral spacing of the front pair of wheels on either of said vehicles. and said ridges have heights less than one-fifth the radius of any of said wheels on said toy vehicles.

t t i i

Patent Citations
Cited PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US375422 *Dec 27, 1887P Oneleinwather
US2862333 *Dec 29, 1954Dec 2, 1958Franco GardiolDeformable toy track
US3445063 *May 19, 1967May 20, 1969Lionel CorpRaceway track
US3480210 *Dec 13, 1968Nov 25, 1969Roger Paul PerrinjaquetRace track
Referenced by
Citing PatentFiling datePublication dateApplicantTitle
US3912273 *Feb 13, 1975Oct 14, 1975Marvin Glass & AssociatesRacing game apparatus
US4161279 *Dec 22, 1977Jul 17, 1979Mattel, Inc.Curved track section for toy vehicle
US4564197 *Dec 20, 1984Jan 14, 1986Mattel, Inc.Portable toy racing set
US5452893 *Jan 31, 1994Sep 26, 1995Faulk; John S.Competitive, multi-lane vehicle racetrack
US5676586 *May 28, 1996Oct 14, 1997James; David EricModel car race track
US6467632 *Mar 10, 2000Oct 22, 2002Mark Anthony GuillotModel car display shelf unit
US6601774Jun 11, 2002Aug 5, 2003Mark P. KasimoffToy track system
US6872141 *Feb 23, 2001Mar 29, 2005Sega CorporationCrawler driving device and game device
Classifications
U.S. Classification463/63, 238/10.00E
International ClassificationA63H18/00, A63H18/02
Cooperative ClassificationA63H18/02
European ClassificationA63H18/02