When automobiles began to become a more popular and mainstream luxury around 1910, people stopped looking at them as playtoys of the rich and as viable vehicles for both business and entertainment. As you would probably expect, people began experimenting with various events that typically utilized horses. And as you can imagine, not all of these events turned out to be safe or practical. But damn if they sure don’t look entertaining.
At the top of our list of least-practical-but-impossibly-fun sports is auto polo, which replaces horses with teams of two riding tandem in turn-of-the-century cars. As these pictures from the Library of Congress show, the sport was as dangerous in practice and just completely awesome, all at the same time.
The NAPL, or National Auto Polo League, existed for a brief time between 1910 and 1915, putting on events like those you see pictured here. These are more like go karts than real cars, and there is a complete lack of safety equipment of any kind. The pictures show what appears to be referees just running around the field as these motorized death machines zip about.
Judging from the pictures, some of the auto polo teams may have even utilized steam powered vehicles, which adds the threat of explosion to the playing field. Today such a sporting event is unheard of outside of the hallowed walls of Top Gear, though we think the world would be a better place if auto polo made a comeback.
Of course, that isn’t likely to happen, but it is nice to dream. Who’s with us?