JUMP TO PAGE   100  >  200  >  300  >  400  >  500  >  600

Ejected: 1912

New York. More smooth "auto polo" moves from December 1912. At right, an incipient case of malletosis. George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.

New York. More smooth "auto polo" moves from December 1912. At right, an incipient case of malletosis. George Grantham Bain Collection. View full size.


On Shorpy:
Today’s Top 5

No question what type of car to use.

Note that in the detailed 1934 instructions, there is no mention of what type of car to use. It was obvious: Only a Ford, that lightweight, ubiquitous, nearly disposable vehicle that could be had for a few dollars in every city in the US.

Suture self

These are the happiest crash victims I've ever seen!


I love these gasoline gladiator photos!

How to play Auto Polo

Excerpts from Mechanics and Handicraft, Autumn 1934.

Super Thrills With Auto Polo

By Ed. Harlan Gibson

Auto polo originated some twenty odd years ago. It was received on every occasion with growing enthusiasm. America demands thrilling entertainment and auto polo went far in filling this need. Numerous outfits were built and contests were arranged all over the country. State and County fairs paid big prices for the thrill of auto polo as a feature for fair patrons. At times, all the large cities were thrilled by the daring of drivers and mallet-men. Organized teams, shipped to foreign countries, introduced this new American sport. Due largely to the past depression, auto polo gradually dwindled down until only a few outfits were still operating, but recently, the interest of the public in this sport has been revived.

Having spent almost eight years in this and another similar game, I know from experience that the American public will pay good money to see auto polo. They like it....

Organizing Teams

....Each team should have a manager and a Captain. The manager is boss of the equipment, matches games, looks after gate receipts, advertising, etc. The Captain coaches the players during the game; and, immediately after each game points out certain plays where improvement can be made.

Drivers and mallet-men should be picked with caution; in their hands rest the success of your adventure. Just because some fellow can skid a car round a city block on two wheels is no sign that he will make a good dependable driver in auto polo. My experience has convinced me this type is not trustworthy. Instead, choose the calm lad who drives carefully and doesn't say much.

Mallet-men must be picked with equal care....He must possess a reasonable amount of agileness and be able to jump out of the way at a moment's notice.

Practice Games, the Field and Flags

Each team should have goal flags the color of their cars. These cloth flags are fastened to iron rods about four feet long with friction tape. Place them approximately four paces apart and at an angle outward from the center of the field. A car skidding into them when cutting off a goal, will knock them down away from the mallet-man. Study the drawing of field layout for car positions before the game. I would suggest you use only two cars in the first attempt, while the others watch from the side lines and mentally place their own positions.

Lay off the field with lime (though it soon disappears from skidding wheels and dust). The referee, to start the game, is at the center of the field where the ball is placed, and also returned after a goal is made. The referee has a whistle. To start, the referee holds up his hands pointing to each end of the field. The drivers and mallet-men on each team will be in position as shown and if ready, they too will hold up their hands, as a signal to the referee. The referee blows the whistle and at the same time swings his arms down, across in front of him, then steps back to the boundary line out of the way. As the game goes on, he follows along somewhere near the ball.

The captains of each team will speed toward the ball in the center of the field at the signal. They will meet and pass on the left of each other, so the malletmen, reaching out, can strike at the ball. Care should be taken not to gauge this too close, but leave plenty of room for the man to swing at the ball, which, if hit, will go sailing.

Now the guard car comes into play. As the ball comes toward them they will work out to meet it, sending it back toward the opposite goal and vice versa. Meanwhile, the two captains are turning, skidding around into position and they act as guard until opportunity affords them an opening at the ball.

After the game is in progress, no magazine article can coach you what to do next. It is a battle, with roaring motors working up a thrilling tension among players and spectators. Positions vary at astonishing speed, and the drivers must use their own judgment.

Goals are counted only when the ball goes between the goal flags. Each goal counts two points for the team forcing it through. There is no hard and fast rules to follow in this game. Should you find just a little different way of playing, do so.

When the ball is knocked out of bounds, it must be tossed in again by the referee, who blows the whistle to stop the game, and again he tosses in the ball. Should the ball fail to go between the goal flags it is counted a foul and the cars line up at the goal and the ball [is] tossed in as before. However, as they start out, the guard car must speed up and take his position guarding the goal.

Teach all drivers to drive with "thumbs out"; do not hook your thumbs inside the steering-wheel cross-arms as you do in common driving. This is the reason: a car striking the point of your front wheels will send the steering wheel spinning in your hands and should you have your thumbs hooked in the cross-arms, painful sprains may results [sic]. Also caution all drivers to beware of broadside slams from the side where the mallet-man stands. He has no protection for his legs.

Publicity--Gate Receipts

Publicity is your greatest advertisement. Do not for a moment overlook this angle to the success of your venture. Auto polo at one time was widely advertised, it is becoming popular again. In small towns, your local newspaper is your best opportunity, and, if you give the Editor your printing business, he will be glad to give you advance publicity. While building your cars, a short write-up will start the interest; and as you begin your practice games, more write-ups will draw people out to watch you. Follow it up, before and after each game, with short items giving the results of the games, its thrills and spectacular plays--in fact, use "ballyhoo" as they do for every sport.

Bright, flashy banner signs along public highways and over the entrance to your field will catch the Sunday joy riders that have nothing else to do. Encourage other towns around you to build polo cars, and before long Auto Polo will be as widely know and advertised as any other sport.

The usual procedure is to split the gate receipts 60-40 after all advertising expenses are taken out of the whole. The winners, of course, receive the largest share.

You make a "spill"

Perhaps you have been wondering how you could "spill" one of these cars intentionally. Every game must contain at least two or three of these thrilling spills to hold the breathless attention of your spectators. I might state, that many spills are made accidentally; by broadside slams, or skidding too sharply on a grass field. However, there will be games when you will want to make one on purpose. In this case, two cars are headed down the field side by side. At first it is best to make the spills at a moderate speed, of just fast enough to turn the car over on the side. The driver of the car on the left will hold his car in a perfectly straight course down the field. The car on the right is the one that will spill. Mallet-men are in their positions as before, and if possible do not make it seem as if anything is to happen. The car on the right pulls over toward the other car and when the speed is regulated, he pulls over still farther until his left rear wheel is just behind the right front of the other car.

Then by speeding up slightly and cramping the steering wheel sharply to the left, or directly in front of the other car, his left rear wheel will climb up over the front axle of the other car; this gives his car a throw and over he goes. As the driver feels the car going over he must swing his feet off the pedals onto the running board or walk and slide out sideways from under the steering wheel. The mallet-man leaves the car just a moment sooner....[in a] method of "bailing out" .... Be sure to jump clear so the car will miss you if it turns completely over. After you have done this a few times, it will come quite naturally, so you need but glance at your opponents to let him know your intentions. The other driver must also co-operate when making a spill and instantly slam reverse when he sees your car cut in front of him. Let me suggest you practice this before attempting it during a game.

Don't be discouraged if you should fail on your first attempts. The only danger lies in clearing the car as it turns over.

The game does not stop when one or even two cars turn over. The car that turns over will immediately enter the fracas as soon as it is on its wheels again.

Play the games in periods of from 7 to 10 minutes each. Motors soon become red hot and mallet-men will welcome a breathing spell after this length of time.

Locate your field along a well traveled highway where an admission charge can be made. Within a reasonable length of time, this should bring the gate receipts up to where that extra money will be welcome and make you wonder why you never thought of using the old rusty model T's before....

....Before I close, I might add that a painted warning sign will help you to keep your crowds in check. Simply word it thus:

"The players will take every precaution to prevent accidents but will not be responsible should any occur." People, as a rule, are like sheep to handle, and this little sign, or two of them, will do wonders to help keep them off the field.

And now friends, you have it all....

....Good Luck.

Same cars

These are the same cars as the first photo.

[Same guys, too. Same day. Same game. - Dave]

Syndicate content is a vintage photography site featuring thousands of high-definition images. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago. Contact us | Privacy policy | Accessibility Statement | Site © 2023 Shorpy Inc.