Title:
Remote control race course system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A race course system using a plurality of low-profile straight and corner block units assembled over an existing support surface of concrete, pavement, dirt, or similar material. The block units are used to create inner and outer barriers for a race course formed therebetween in which race cars or boats may travel. The block unit includes an inner cavity, which may be selectively filled with water or sand to add weight. Each block unit is sufficiently wide so that they may be stood upon by track officials. The block units include tabs and tab receiving slots formed on opposite surfaces which enable adjacent block units to be interconnected. Each block unit may also include an optional post-receiving hole into which a post may be inserted to support safety netting for catching race cars that may jump the barrier and threaten to hit spectators. Also, each block unit may include an optional handle for easy portability.



Inventors:
Routh, Tracy A. (Woodinville, WA, US)
Application Number:
10/226723
Publication Date:
03/13/2003
Filing Date:
08/23/2002
Assignee:
ROUTH TRACY A.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
A63H18/02; A63F9/14; (IPC1-7): A63F9/14
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
HOTALING, JOHN M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Suite 140, Dean Craine A. P. S. (400 - 112th Ave. NE, Bellevue, WA, 98004, US)
Claims:

I claim:



1. A race track system, comprising: a. a plurality of low profile, elongated straight block units, each said elongated, straight block unit being a parallelepiped with parallel, flat top and bottom faces, parallel sidewall faces, and parallel end wall faces, each said block unit having a cavity formed therein with a filling port so that a fluid may be added to said cavity to provide weight to each said block unit; b. means to connect adjacent said straight block units together to form a continuous barrier; c. at least one corner block unit, each said corner block unit being substantially the same height and width of said straight block units; and, d. means to connect each said corner block unit to a side wall or to an end wall of at least one straight block unit.

2. The race car track system, as recited in claim 1, wherein said means to connect adjacent said straight block units is at least one tab member that extends longitudinally from an end on one said straight block and a tab receiving slot formed on the adjacent said straight block unit.

3. The race car track system, as recited in claim 1, wherein said corner block unit is one of the following groups of corner block units: a 30-degree corner block unit, a 45-degree corner block unit, a 60-degree corner block unit, a 90-degree corner block unit, and a 180-degree corner block unit.

4. The race car track system, as recited in claim 1, wherein each said straight block unit includes a means for manually carrying said straight block unit.

5. The race car track system, as recited in claim 1, wherein said means for manually carrying said straight block units is a recessed handle on a surface of said straight block unit.

6. The remote control race car track system, as recited in claim 1, wherein said corner units include outward extended sloped surfaces to form an apron-like roadway structure.

7. The race car track system, as recited in claim 1, further including a plurality of poles selectively attached to said straight block units and said corner units and a safety net that extends between said poles.

8. The race car track system, as recited in claim 1, further including an adjustable coupling block unit.

9. The race car track system, as recited in claim 1, wherein said straight block and corner block units are approximately four inches in height.

10. The race car track system, as recited in claim 1, wherein said straight block units and said corner block units are approximately 13 inches in width.

11. The race car track system, as recited in claim 1, wherein said straight block units are approximately 144 inches in length.

12. A race car track system comprising a. an inner barrier made of a plurality of low profile, lightweight, interlocking units; b. an outer barrier surrounding and spaced apart from said inner barrier to form a race track therebetween, said outer barrier made of a plurality of low profile, interlocking units; c. a safety net attached to said outer barrier to prevent airborne race cars from traveling beyond said outer barrier.

13. A race car track system, as recited in claim 11, comprising: a. a plurality of low profile, elongated straight block units, each said elongated, straight block unit being a parallelepiped with parallel top and bottom faces, parallel sidewall faces, and parallel end wall faces, each said block unit having a hollow cavity formed therein with a port so that a fluid or grain may be added to said cavity to provide weight to each said block unit; b. at least one corner block unit, each said corner block unit having a flat bottom surface; c. means to connect adjacent said straight block units together to form a barrier with a continuous inside surface; and, d. means to connect each said corner block unit to the side wall or end wall of at least one straight block unit to form a turn in the race track.

14. The race car track system, as recited in claim 11, wherein said means to connect adjacent said straight blocks is at least one tab member that extends longitudinally from an end on one said straight block and a tab receiving slot formed on the adjacent said straight block.

15. The race car track system, as recited in claim 11, wherein said corner block unit is one of the following groups of corner block units: a 30-degree corner block unit, a 45-degree corner block unit, a 60-degree corner block unit, a 90-degree corner block unit, and a 180-degree corner block unit.

16. The race car track system, as recited in claim 11, wherein each said straight block unit includes a means for manually carrying said straight block unit.

17. The race car track system, as recited in claim 11, wherein said corner units include outward extended sloped surfaces to form an apron-like roadway structure.

18. The race car track system, as recited in claim 11, further including a plurality of poles that selectively attach to said straight or corner units and a safety net that extends between said poles.

19. The race car track system, as recited in claim 11, further including an adjustable coupling block unit.

20. The race car track system, as recited in claim 11, wherein said straight block units and said corner block units are approximately four inches in height.

Description:

[0001] This is a utility patent application based on a provisional patent application (Serial No. 60/322,066) filed on Sep. 13, 2001.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

[0002] 1. Field of the Invention

[0003] This invention pertains to race courses and, in particular, to methods of temporarily constructing miniature race courses on existing surfaces using a plurality of interlocking block units.

[0004] 2. Description of the Related Art

[0005] Racing remote control cars is a popular hobby for people of all ages. Racing events are usually sponsored by a hobby shop or a race car club and held at the hobby shop's parking lot. Typically, a temporary race course is constructed on the parking lot using (2×4) or (2×6) studs placed on one edge and aligned in an end-to-end manner to delineate the interior barriers, exterior barriers center islands, or the infield, on the race track. In some instances, a center platform is needed inside the race track where track officials can stand to observe the race and to overturn flipped or broken race cars during a race.

[0006] The (2×4) or (2×6) studs are desirable because they are relatively inexpensive, easily assembled to form a race track, and easily disassembled. They can also be stacked and stored in a compact configuration in the off season. They also have a relatively low profile so that race car operators standing on sides of the race track may see their race cars at all times during a race. Unfortunately, using (2×4) and (2×6) studs has several drawbacks.

[0007] One drawback with using (2×4) and (2×6) studs is that their end surfaces cannot be evenly joined together without brackets or other hardware items. When brackets are not used, the end surfaces on adjacent studs may be exposed that can snag race cars as they travel next to the inside surface of the studs, often resulting in costly damage.

[0008] Another drawback with using (2×4) and (2×6) studs is that the track is not realistic and must be a relatively simple design comprised of long straight-aways and side turns. Short straight-aways, “switchbacks” and “hairpin” turns cannot be constructed with studs.

[0009] A third drawback with using (2×4) and (2×6) studs is that they can be easily knocked out of place when struck by a race car or by a track official who may trip over a stud while moving towards an overturned race car.

[0010] A fourth drawback is that (2×4) and (2×6) studs, when placed on edge, are too narrow to allow track officials to stand on them during a race. As mentioned above, track officials must stand in a central location on the race track so that they can quickly overturn a flipped race car. When narrow studs are used, track officials must be fast-footed and step quickly onto the race course to reach a flipped race car, then quickly move back off the race track. Because the studs are 2 to 4 inches in width, track officials sometimes trip on them and fall into the race track, often injuring themselves or damaging the race cars.

[0011] A fifth drawback is that because (2×4) and (2×6) studs have a low profile, race cars can easily jump over them during a race and cause injuries to track officials, spectators, or race car operators and cause injuries.

[0012] What is needed is a miniature race car course system that uses a plurality of low profile barrier units that can be securely interconnected so that their inside surfaces are in alignment, and that can be used to form a wide variety of different-shaped, realistic race tracks. The barrier units should be lightweight, portable, and capable of being easily stored in a compact configuration when not in use. The barrier units should be selectively weighted so that they resist movement when used and be sufficiently durable so that track officials may directly stand on them to watch a race. The barrier units should also include means to be used with safety netting that prevents race cars from leaving the race course and injuring track officials, spectators, and race car operators.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

[0013] It is an object of the present invention to provide a realistic, miniature remote control race course system that uses a plurality of low profile, portable block units that can be adjustably connected together to form a wide variety of different race course designs.

[0014] It is another object of the present invention to provide such a system that uses such block units that can be securely connected together to form a continuous, uniformly aligned inside or outside barrier on a race track that minimizes snags to the vehicles moving against them.

[0015] It is another object of the present invention to provide such a system that uses such barrier units that are lightweight for easy portability and that can be selectively weighted after positioned on the racetrack to resist movement caused by impacts.

[0016] It is another object of the present invention to provide such a system that uses block units that are sufficiently wide to resistant movement and to allow track officials to stand on them during a race.

[0017] It is yet another object of the present invention to provide such a system that can be used with optional safety netting to protect spectators, track officials, and operators from vehicles that flip and leave the race track during a race.

[0018] These and other objects of the invention that will become apparent are met by a race course system that uses a plurality of hollow, low-profile block units designed to be assembled over an existing support surface, such as asphalt, concrete, water, or dirt. The block units are individually positioned over the support surface and then selectively connected together in an end-to-end or end-to-side manner to create a wide variety of continuous inside or outside barriers and center islands. The inside and outside barriers are selectively spaced apart to create different lengths and widths of a race track in which the vehicles may travel during a race.

[0019] All of the block units used in the system are lightweight and designed for easy transport and assembly. In the preferred embodiment, a cavity is formed inside each block unit that may be selectively filled with a fluid weight substance, such as sand or water after being placed in the desired positions to add weight so that they remain in place during a race. When the race track is disassembled, the fluid weight substances may be easily removed so that the block units may be easily transported to a storage facility. Each block unit includes an attachment means that enables it to be securely connected together to an adjacent block unit. In the preferred embodiment, the attachment means includes at least one tab member that extends longitudinally from one end of each block unit, and at least one tab-receiving slot formed on the adjacent end or side surface each block unit.

[0020] Each block unit may also include an optional recessed handle for easy portability. Also, the block units may include outward extended sloped surfaces formed along their bottom and side walls to create a realistic apron-like roadway structure upon which the race cars may drive when moving close to the inside barrier walls.

[0021] The system also includes optional safety net and poles that can be attached to the blocks units. Each block unit includes at least one post-receiving hole so that a post may be inserted to support safety netting placed along the exterior and interior barriers for catching race cars that may jump the barriers and threaten to hit spectators and track officials.

[0022] The system includes a plurality of straight block units and a plurality of corner block units of uniform widths and heights and with complementary attachment means enabling them to be exchanged and interconnected to create a wide variety of different shaped race tracks. All the block units also have a flat top support surface sufficiently durable to allow a person to stand thereon. In the preferred embodiment, the system includes a plurality of long straight block units, a plurality of short straight block units, a plurality of 30-degree corner block units, a plurality of 45-degree corner block units, a plurality of 60-degree corner block units, a plurality of 90 degree corner block units, and a plurality of 180-degree corner block units. The system also includes at least one adjustable coupling block unit comprised of a fixed block unit and a pivoting block unit.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

[0023] FIG. 1 is a perspective view of a section of the remote control race course system disclosed herein.

[0024] FIG. 2 is a top plan view of a simple race course.

[0025] FIG. 3 is a top plan view of a moderate race course.

[0026] FIG. 4 is a top plan view of a complex race course.

[0027] FIG. 5 is a top plan view of the long and short straight block units.

[0028] FIG. 6 is a side elevation view of the long and short straight block units.

[0029] FIG. 7 is a bottom plan view of the long and short straight block units.

[0030] FIG. 8 is top plan view of a 30-degree corner block unit located between two straight block units.

[0031] FIG. 9 is a side elevation view of the 30-degree block unit taken along line 9-9 in FIG. 8.

[0032] FIG. 10 is a top plan view of a 45-degree corner block unit located between two straight block units.

[0033] FIG. 11 is a side elevation view of the 45-degree corner block unit taken along line 11-11 in FIG. 10. FIG. 12 is a top plan view of a 60-degree corner block unit located between two straight block units.

[0034] FIG. 13 is a side elevation view of the 60-degree corner block unit taken along line 13-13 in FIG. 12.

[0035] FIG. 14 is a top plan view of a 90-degree corner block unit located between two straight block units.

[0036] FIG. 15 is a side elevation view of the 90-degree corner block unit taken along line 15-15 in FIG. 14.

[0037] FIG. 16 is a top plan view of an end block unit attached to a straight block unit.

[0038] FIG. 17 is a side elevational view of the end block unit taken along line 17-17 in FIG. 16.

[0039] FIG. 18 is a top plan view of the adjustable coupling block unit located between two straight block units.

[0040] FIG. 19 is a side elevational view of the adjustable coupling block unit taken along line 19-19 in FIG. 18.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT(S)

[0041] Referring to the accompanying Figs., there is shown and described a miniature remote control race car course system 10 that uses a plurality of long and short straight block units 15, 25, a plurality of corner block units 35, 45, 55, 65, a plurality of end block units 75 and a plurality of coupling block units 82. The block units 15-82 are designed to be selectively assembled and interconnected to form a wide variety of realistic, different-shaped inner and outer barriers used with a race track over a support surface 99 as shown in FIGS. 2-4. Each block unit 15-82 is also designed to be lightweight for easy portability, sufficiently narrow and thin for stacking, and sufficiently durable so that race track officials 13 may stand on them and watch the race cars 12 being operated in the race track as shown in FIG. 1. The block units 15-82 also include means for easy connection and closed cavities which may be selectively filled with sand or water to add weight so that they do not move when struck by a moving race car 12 or kicked by an official. The system 10 also includes poles 97 that connect to the top surfaces of the block units 15-75, and safety netting 100 to protect track officials 13 and spectators from being hit by flying race cars 12.

[0042] As shown in FIGS. 5-7, the long and short straight block units 15, 25, respectively, are elongated, rectangular parallelepipeds. Each long straight block unit 15 includes parallel, flat top and bottom surfaces 16, 17, respectively, two parallel flat side surfaces 18, 19, respectively, and two parallel flat end surfaces 20, 21, respectively. Each short straight block unit 25 includes parallel flat top and bottom faces 26, 27 two parallel flat side surfaces 28, 29, and two parallel flat end surfaces 30, 31, respectively. The long and short straight block units 15, 25, respectively, have identical widths and heights. This uniformity enables the inside and outside surfaces of the race track to be smooth and continuous so that the race cars 12 do not snag a protruding corner on the straight block units 15, 25.

[0043] The corner block units 35, 45, 55, 65, and end block units 75 are also polygons with the same widths and heights as the long and short straight block units 15, 25 respectively. The 30-degree corner block unit 35 includes parallel, flat, top and bottom surfaces 36, 37, a 30-degree arc front surface 38 and two flat side surfaces 39, 40. As shown in FIGS. 8 and 9, during use, the 30-degree corner block unit 35 is positioned so that its side surfaces 39, 40 are registered with the end surfaces, 18, 19, or side surfaces (not shown) on the long or short straight block units 15, 25, (not shown) respectively, to provide a 30-degree turn on the race track.

[0044] As shown in FIGS. 10 and 11, the 45-degree corner block unit 45 includes parallel flat top and bottom faces 46, 47, a 45-degree arc front surface 48, and two side wall surfaces 49, 50 perpendicularly aligned with the top and bottom faces 46, 47, respectively. Like the 30-degree corner block unit 35, the side surfaces 18, 19 on the adjacent block units 15, 15′, respectively, are registered with the corner block's side surfaces 49, 50, to provide a 45 degree turn in the race track.

[0045] As shown in FIGS. 12 and 13, the 60-degree corner block unit 55 includes parallel top and flat bottom surface 56, 57, a 60 degree arc front surface 58, and two flat side surface 59, 60 perpendicularly aligned with the top and bottom surfaces 56, 57, respectively. During use, the side surfaces 59, 60 may be registered with the side surfaces on the adjacent block units 15, 15′ to provide a 60-degree turn in the race track.

[0046] As shown in FIGS. 14 and 15, the 90-degree corner block unit 65 includes parallel, flat, top and bottom surfaces 66, 67, a 90-degree arc front surface 68, and two flat side surfaces 69, 70 perpendicularly aligned with the top and bottom faces 66, 67, respectively. During use, the side surfaces 69, 70 may be registered with the side walls on the long or short block units 15, 25, respectively, to provide a 90-degree turn in the race track. If desired, the side surfaces 69, 70 may be registered with the side surfaces on the 30-degree, 45-degree, or 60-degree corner block units, 35, 45, 55, respectively, to provide different corner variations in the race track.

[0047] The 180-degree end block unit 75 includes parallel, flat top and bottom surfaces 76, 77, a 180-degree arc front surface 78, and one flat side surface 79 perpendicularly aligned with the top and bottom surfaces 76, 77, respectively. During use, the side surface 79 may be registered with a side surface on the long or short block units 15 or 25, respectively, to provide a 180-degree turn in the race track. If desired, the side surface 79 may be registered with a side surface on the 30-degree, 45-degree, 60-degree, or 90-degree corner block units, 35, 45, 55, 65 respectively, to provide different corner variations in the race track.

[0048] Also included in the system 10 is an optional adjustable coupling block unit 82 that enables adjacent long and short straight block units 15, 25 or corner block units 35, 45, 55, 65 to be connected together. In the preferred embodiment, the coupling block unit 82 includes two pivotally attached components: a male block unit 83 and a female block unit 88. The male block unit 83 includes a longitudinally aligned tongue member 86 that fits into a slot 92 formed on the female block unit 88. The female block unit 88 includes a flat, top member 89 located above the slot 92 and flat bottom member 90 located below the slot 92. Formed in the male and female members 83, 88, are holes 94 through which a pin 95 is inserted to pivotally connect the male and female block units 83, 88, respectively, together. During use, the male and female block units 83, 88 may be rotated approximately 120 degrees for different variations in the race track.

[0049] As mentioned above, each long and short block unit 15, 25, each corner block unit 35, 45, 55, 65, each end block unit 75, and each coupling block unit 85, includes attachment means that enable them to be connected to an adjacent block unit. In the preferred embodiment, the attachment means is a longitudinally aligned tab 54 that extends from at least one side or end surface and a slot 64 formed on a side or end surface. The tab 54 and slot 64 are complementary in shape and located on the side or end surfaces so that the top and bottom surfaces and adjacent side and end surfaces are aligned when interconnected.

[0050] As also mentioned above, each long and short straight block unit 15, 25, each corner block unit 35, 45, 55, 65 and each end block unit 75 is hollow with a closed cavity 22, 32, 41, 51, 61, 71, 80, respectively, formed therein. Also formed on the top surface of each block unit 35, 45, 55, 65 and 75 is a filling port 24 through which a suitable fluid may be poured into the block unit to add weight. In the preferred embodiment, sand 102 or water (not shown) is selectively poured into the filling port 24 to provide weight. An optional cap 103, shown in FIG. 8, may be included to prevent the water, sand 102, or other suitable material from spilling.

[0051] Each straight block unit 15, 25, each corner block unit 35, 45, 55, 65, and each end block unit 75 also includes an optional post hole 96 formed on its top surface. The post hole 96 is cylindrical and sufficiently deep to support a post 97 vertically therein. Suitable netting 100 is then vertically aligned and strung between posts 97 on adjacent block units.

[0052] Also, an optional recessed handle 34 may be formed on each straight, corner, end, and coupling block unit 15, 25, 35, 45, 55, 65, 75, 82, respectively to improve portability. In the preferred embodiment, the recessed handle 34 is formed on the top surface near one end so that the block unit may be easily carried and handled, without compromising stacking ability.

[0053] In the preferred embodiment, the straight block units 15, 25 are made of thin wall plastic and are approximately 13 inches in width, 4 inches in height and 144 inches and 48inches in length, respectively. The corner block units 75 and coupling units 82 are all approximately 13 inches in width and 4 inches in height.

[0054] The posts 97 are made of PVC and measure approximately 18 inches in height and 1½ inches in diameter. The netting 100 is made of durable nylon or vinyl and measures approximately 16 inches in width and is sufficient length to extend around the entire perimeter of the race course 10.

[0055] In compliance with the statute, the invention described herein has been described in language more or less specific as to structural features. It should be understood, however, that the invention is not limited to the specific features shown, since the means and construction shown, is comprised only of the preferred embodiments for putting the invention into effect. The invention is therefore claimed in any of its forms or modifications within the legitimate and valid scope of the amended claims, appropriately interpreted in accordance with the doctrine of equivalents.