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Autoball and Auto Polo: Two Crazy Sports Featuring Cars

There have been some strange sports played in different parts of the world in the past. Two of the most unusual of them involved cars playing in games that we don’t normally associate with motorized vehicles.

Autoball Had Vehicles Playing Soccer

There have been several attempts to make a success of this sport, which has teams of autos playing soccer. It all seems to have started in 1930s Germany, when driver Karl Kappler retired from racing and came up with this idea.

There appear to have been no official rules to the game. Records show that the first game took place at the home of soccer team FC Frankonia, in 1933. It was played using teams of two or four vehicles, featuring the likes of the Mercedes-Benz Type 290 and the Wanderer W10, chasing a four-foot diameter ball. Kappler’s retirement in 1935 stopped this sport in its tracks. 

However, it was briefly revived in 1970s Brazil. A ball manufacturer in Sao Paolo made a special four-foot ball but attempts to get horses to play soccer with it didn’t work out. Therefore, they created the autobol sport using cars.  

Up to six vehicles took part in each game, which were played during the half-time break in conventional soccer matches. Players used cars like the Renault Dauphine and the Volkswagen 1600, with many spectacular crashes leading to various types of injury for the drivers. 

In the late 70s, the next country to embrace this wacky game was the former Yugoslavia. This was a gentler version of the sport, with fewer potential for destructive collisions. The best-known venue was in Belgrade and the most commonly used auto was the 250-horsepower Zastava 750 Lux. 

In recent years, Top Gear staged a special game of autoball using Toyota Aygos. It has also made something of a comeback on German TV shows.

Auto Polo Replaced Horses with Cars

Long before autoball has been invented, there had been an attempt to use autos in a sport that wasn’t really designed for them. Auto polo was first played in the US, although it also reached European shores.

It was created in 1911 and lasted for close to two decades before dying out. The creator of this sport was a Ford dealer named Ralph Hankinson, who came up with as a publicity stunt to encourage more people to buy the Model T. 

The game was mostly played at fairs and in exhibitions. Wichita was the site of the first known match, with four cars taking part. 5,000 spectators watched this showdown between the Red Devils and the Gray Ghosts. 

It soon gained a relative degree of success, with the Auto Polo Association controlling the various leagues. New York fans could watch auto polo at Madison Square Garden and Coney Island. However, it was extremely risky and often resulted in injury to players or damage to vehicles, causing it to fade out at the end of the 1920s.

What Other Sports Could Feature Autos?

Could we see other popular sports re-invented using cars in the future? One game that springs to mind is football. So far, the only auto-based version of this sport seems to be the Running Back Adversary Mode featured in the GTA online video game.

In real life, this might work, although it is easy to imagine a highly destructive and dangerous aspect to the sport. Could we soon be placing our Super Bowl wagers on autos rather than human players? At the moment it seems unlikely.

Might auto golf be the next big thing then? This sounds more promising, to be fair. It is easier to picture cars bumping into a giant golf ball than playing football. It might never happen, but getting a hole in one or a birdie with your automobile certainly sounds very tempting.

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