Vintage sports cars play “football”

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When I was “volunteered” to plan a funkhana for the Spring 2012 gathering of the Ohio Chapter – New England MG-T Register on the campus of Ohio Northern University in Ada, Ohio, two themes popped into my mind:

  • FOOTBALL: Ada is longtime home to the Wilson Sporting Goods football factory. Handmade footballs for the NFL, NCAA, CFL, and youth leagues have been been produced in this small Northwest Ohio town since 1955, so why not do a football funkhana?
  • PALINDROME: A word or phrase that reads the same forward or backward, such as our venue — Ada — is called a palindrome. Examples such as racecar and radar were tempting themes, but I found it simpler to go with odo and toot. Additionally, the course would have several palindromic inspired activities requiring both frontwards and backwards movements.

Land a football panel in the "Ada-Wilson" diagram before proceeding.

The Wilson folks were skeptical at first about loaning us items for use as funkhana props, but after conducting an informative factory tour for our intrigued group, they realized that we weren’t totally loony and generously provided some leather ball panels and laces. The flat diamond-shaped panels (four of which are sewn together to form the football) were perfect for tossing into a football design chalked onto the pavement. The person in the right hand seat picked up a stack of panels at one station, then had to toss one at a time to the drawing. The team could proceed once one landed in the outline or when they exhausted their panel supply.

Grab the ball going out, replace it coming back.

The funkhana was a timed event with teams performing tasks along a slalom route that was marked with footballs rather than traffic pylons. At one station, where a football hung by its laces over an actual pylon, the left-seated person had to retrieve the ball on the outbound slalom and the right-seated person had to replace it on the incoming route. Because the MGs competing had both left- and right-hand steering configuration, this helped distribute tasks between driver and passenger.

Arrange the odometers in numerical order.

As for the palindromes, every time competitors encountered the word “toot” on the pavement, they had to sound their horn. At the “odo” station, there were four speedometer/odometer units that had to be arranged sequentially based on the odometer reading.


A "re-enactment" of the Wilson factory tour was to lace a football panel while en route.

Dan and Mary DiThomas, funkhana winners.


The winners of the Ada Football Palindromic Funkhana were Mary and Dan DiThomas, of Dublin, Ohio. Their 1951 MG TD covered the course in one minute and 48 seconds.

It takes a team to produce a motorsports event, like this funkhana. Thank you to Ohio Chapter members: Allison Rapp, Craig Peck, Lora and Peter Jollis, and host David Smittle.  Footballs were loaned by the Ohio Northern University football coaches and football items were provided by the Wilson Sporting Goods Company of Ada, Ohio.

Posted by John Olman.

Ada, Ohio MG football funkhana