Chris Burden’s Toy Car Track

Thousand cars are lined up, bumper-to-bumper, and raring to go. A mechanical gear kicks into action and the cars drive up an incline. The cars reach the summit of the incline and then thrust into top gear as they drop down a slope and zip past numerous twists and turns.

This is not a NASCAR rally, but one of the most expansive Hot Wheels toy car track ever built: the Metropolis II. In many ways, it is unfair to call Metropolis II a toy car track. Artist Chris Burden has sculpted a racecar track structured from steel which has 1200 cars circulating around 18 lanes. Add to this 13 toy trains and separate tracks for them, plus a landscape that is dotted with buildings made of wood block, tiles, Lego blocks, and Lincoln Logs, and we have a full-blown freeway rather than just a toy car track.

Metropolis II is a more ambitious version of Metropolis I, which had 80 cars zooming up and down. In 2006, Chris Burden and his team of studio assistants, that included an engineer, set to work on the second version of Metropolis. The team wanted to make Metropolis II a bigger and better version of the original. With 1200 custom designed cars zipping through more than a dozen lanes, Chris Burden and his team have realized their vision successfully. The artist reckons that 100,000 cars would circulate through Metropolis II every hour.

Special mention must be made of the Hot Wheel cars that are an important part of this impressive car track. The cars add an aesthetic component to Metropolis II with their variety and color tones. You have racecars, road cars, sedans, taxis, and even police cars that rush through the 18 lanes. Each car has been given a distinct color tone which contributes to a beautiful splash of color in contrast to the grey steel track.

The freeway-inspired car track has been designed to function as a fully automated car track. A mechanical lever is attached to the incline of the car track and pulls the cars up the slope. Once the cars drop down the slope, forces of gravity propel the cars towards the track that winds down. Once the cars finish a lap they would find themselves at the incline once again.

Metropolis II would be exhibited at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art once the racetrack structure is completed. Michael Govan, who is the director of the museum, feels that Chris Burden’s structure is a portrait of L.A.

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