Bumper cars have been a favorite at fairs, carnivals, and events since the early 1920s and it doesn’t look like the rage is dying down yet. They lots of fun for kids from ages 8 to 80 and they are safe too.
The name “bumper cars’ is the generic name for for a ride where one or two people get into an enclosed miniature car that they can drive around a flat floor, with the idea of colliding or “bumping” into the other similar vehicles in the enclosed area.
The cars themselves have large extended bumpers, usually made of hard rubber, and the derive their power from electrical circuits emanating from the floor or ceiling, or both. The power is turned on and off by an operator for the ride, and the length of time people are able to “bump” each other is usually limited to around five minutes or so.
The oldest and the most common setup as to how the cars work uses a floor and ceiling connection with each having a separate polarity of power. There is a pole on the vehicle which reaches the flat ceiling above and contacts under the car that touch the floor, making a complete circuit which propels the car.
The cars move about a flat surface, usually enclosed in a 100 by 75 foot enclosure, and the cars are only moving about 3 to 5 miles per hour, depending upon the amusement park. The fun begins when someone bumps you and you get to bump people back.
Bumper cars were invented by a man named Victor Levand, who was an employee of the General Electric Company back in the 20’s, however there are others who have claimed that title also. No matter who did come up with the idea originally, the bumper car concept has given millions of people a fun-filled experience all over the world.
Even though the idea of the ride is to bump the other cars, safety-conscious fair owners have put caution signs out to be visible to the participants, to warn them by stating, “No Head On Bumping,” a practice that is seldom followed in reality, especially by children who really enjoy the bumping part.
Some operators have put a concrete “island” in the middle of their course, just to keep things moving in one direction, along with directional signs, and this seems to have slowed down the head on practices, although all a person has to do is to go the wrong direction, and they can have all the head on bumping that they can stand.
In Great Britain, the bumper cars are called “Dodge em” and who knows what they are called elsewhere in the world, but one thing is for sure children and adults alike don’t really care what they are called, they just like to ride in them and let off a little steam. After all, what could be more fun than heading into another person’s bumper car at a top speed of 5 miles per hour?