Friday, March 5th, 2021 - Motoring Past

First World Championships in Western Australia

Since Covid to be held near York, Sunday 7 March 2021


The first world championship event to be held in WA for over a year is being held at Brooklands Airfield near York on Sunday 7 March, 2021.


The World Autopolo Championships will be contested between two teams, Australia “A” and Australia “B” because no international teams are able to enter the State.


Autopolo is a game of skill, comprising two teams of three Ford Model Ts with two Model Ts from each team on the field at any one time.  Each car has a driver and a malleteer. The object of the game is to hit a ball with a mallet to score a goal. It is a non-contact sport. It uses 100-year-old Model T Fords and, unlike Polo, no horses are harmed in the great game.


Credit as the heroic founding father of our modern game of Autopolo goes to Joshua Crane, Jr. of the Dedham Polo Club in Boston, USA. Joshua was the first person to wield a mallet and steer an automobile at the same time.  This was in 1902. His car was a Curved Dash Oldsmobile and if only he could look back now at what a turning point in the modern history of our proud sport this moment was to be.  In modern sport, there is always one person who stands out as a sporting pioneer — like William Webb Ellis who picked up a ball and ran with it at rugby school, creating the game of rugby.  Joshua Crane Jr is our founding father.


Joshua Crane Jr was soon to be a household name around the world.  Well, perhaps I better stop here.  Actually, to be fair, Joshua Crane, our founder and spiritual godfather of Autopolo, is all but forgotten today.


But everyone who has studied the history of our great game remembers this man: Ralph “Pappy” Hankinson, for it was Pappy Hankinson who truly made Autopolo great.  Pappy was a Ford dealer in Topeka, Kansas.  The great capital of Kansas of course means in the local native American language “a good place to dig potatoes” but it should be known as the first place to dig Autopolo.   In July 1912, Pappy held an autopolo match with Ford Model T cars in an alfalfa field in Wichita. “Build it and they will come” could have been a quote from Pappy himself, for come they did, in their thousands to see two teams — the “Grey Ghosts” and the “Red Devils” to battle it out.


Autopolo as a sport was finished-off by the Great Depression in the 1930s.  It never became an Olympic sport but it has been revived by a bunch of Model T enthusiasts who believe in using their cars rather than polishing them.  Highly skilled athletes, some with international experience, will be malleteers.


The fun event will take place on Sunday 7 March 2021. Practice begins in 9.00am with the World Championship grand final for the impressive “Pappy Trophy” taking place at 10.30am. The event is not open to the general public.  Brooklands Airfield is private property and we thank our hosts John and Tanya for allowing us to use the Airfield for this fun event.


To get to Brooklands Airfield, drive to York and continue north on Avon Terrace until it becomes the Spencers Brook-York Road. You’ll go past the racecourse on the left, cross the rail line and then continue on until you see the airfield sign on your right. It’s 9.9km from town. Drive in and follow directions.



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Motoring Past

Motoring Past is a Perth, Western Austalia based publisher of high-quality motoring books.

Graeme Cocks
P: 0438980859


Autopolo 2021 World Championships, Ford Model T, York, Western Australia, Brooklands Airfield




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