Moto Polo at Cejay Stadium in Wichita, Kansas

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Auto racing promoter Ralph Hankinson is credited with inventing Auto Polo back in the early ‘teens in his native Kansas.  The fad reached the height of its popularity in the 1920s and had faded almost completely away by World War II.  Auto racing promoters had long recognized that its fast pace could keep audiences entertained during long breaks in an otherwise slow racing program.  Auto Polo appealed to thrill hungry crowds in a way similar to the way demolition derbies, figure-8 races, and thrill shows did.

          Auto Polo differed from the later Moto Polo in that there were two men to a car in Auto Polo and the object ball was a basketball.  Moto Polo cars were one man affairs chasing a huge specially made leather ball.

Polo cars were automobiles that had been stripped of everything except the running gear and the frame.  Rounded roll cages and cross bracing were added to aid an overturned car in doing a complete roll and landing on its wheels again.  Drivers were held in place with leather belts that were known to occasionally break.  Most participants could expect to overturn on several occasions during the course of a single game.

Playing fields varied in size depending on the space available but the distance between goals ranged from 50 yards up to 300 yards with the width of the field being only slightly less than the length.

Games were made up of teams consisting of equal numbers of cars.  The ball was placed in the middle of the playing field.  On a signal from the starter, the cars would charge the ball trying to maneuver it down field and over their respective goal lines.

Race promoter Carl Johnson added Moto Polo to his auto racing programs at Cejay Stadium in Wichita, Kansas in the late 1940s but the attraction only lasted for a few weeks.

The photographs on this web page were taken at Cejay Stadium by Jim Edwards.  If you can identify any of the drivers in any of these photographs, please contact Bob Lawrence.

 

“Far more skill and precision driving ability was required in Auto Polo than in the ramp driving presented in thrill shows of the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s.”

~ ~ ~ Frank R. Winkley (1907-1968)

Veteran motorcycle race rider, thrill show performer, and auto race promoter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hit counter for myspace