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Local History

Auto Polo 1933

  Location unknown, probably taken between 1910 and 1915. Click to enlarge.In 1933 an Auto Polo fund raiser for the American Legion promises crashes, overturns, spills and collisions at State Teacher College, now known as MSU. 

“Auto Polo Contest Here To Present New Thrills,” Springfield (Mo.) Leader & Press, page 4.

An unusual attraction will be presented at 8:15 o’clock tonight under the floodlights at State Teachers College when two traveling auto polo teams clash in a benefit game.  Proceeds will go to the American Legion drum corps to send that body to the state convention at Jefferson City. The invaders carry 11 model A Fords and use about six of them in a game.  Crashes, overturns, spills and collisions, some of them serious, are all a part of the game.  It will be Springfield’s first squint at auto polo.  Two cars, each carrying a driver and a mallet man, are on the field each quarter, since because of so many crashes, there isn’t enough room for more at one time.

 Auto Polo, Coney Isl.  Click to enlarge.“Plenty of Crashes as Auto Polo Aces Play Contest Here,” Springfield (Mo.) Leader & Press, August 23, 1933, page 6.

Plenty of crashes and a few turnovers featured an auto polo contest at State Teachers college last night, presented for the benefit of the American Legion drum corps, which is trying to raise funds to go to the state convention at Jefferson City.  Turnovers, always the spice of the auto polo program, were limited to four because of the slick grass.  Sharp turns, which ordinarily produce turnovers, merely brought long skids. 

Adding drama to the situation, the heralded Happy Williams, ace driver of the outfit from Los Angeles, entered the contest in the last chukker and piloted his mallet man, speedball Murphy to three quick goals.  As a result, Williams’ side won 4 to 3.  Piloting the other car was Hardy Johnson, and his mallet man was Smokey Hardy.  They scored two goals in the first chukker, but didn’t register again until the last.  Williams replaced Roy Rogers for the final period, when the latter was hurt in a turnover, being pinned beneath the car.  His injuries were not serious. 

Score by chukkers:
Johnson-Hardy   2 0 0 1 --- 3
Williams-Murphy   1 0 0 3 --- 4 
Referee, Butch Walker

“Auto Polo Draws 1000 Fans Here,” Springfield (Mo.) Daily News, August 23, 1933, page 9.

You’d never think of treating your own car like that, but close to 1000 fans last night seemed to delight in watching auto polo players crash, turn over, interlock and skid all over the place in the benefit attraction under the State Teachers College floodlights. 

For a more in-depth description, read the New York Times "Auto Polo thrills crowd in ball park*" from 1912.  You can search for other articles in the New York Times historical database available on our website. 

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