The first and evidently only motorsports competition held in a corn maze took place near Cincinnati for a gathering of MG sports cars. Unlike "normal" mazes where walking participants bump into each other in a frenzy to reach daylight, this one allowed for one car at at a time, racing against the clock.
Upon entering the maze — shaped in tribute to the 90-year-old British marque's octagonal logo — each team comprised of a driver and navigator had to decide at each intersection whether to turn or continue ahead and risk encountering a straw bale roadblock.
Since the paths were too narrow to permit any sort of turning around, drivers faced with a roadblock had to back up to the previous intersection and take a different course. Spectators were thoroughly entertained by gear grinding, dust clouds, and a slew of expletives.
At the entrance, a straw bale forced cars to the right, and once the car passed, course workers moved it to block that exit path. From there, eight turns in the proper sequence were required to take the shortest route to the exit: LEFT, RIGHT, LEFT, RIGHT, RIGHT, RIGHT, LEFT, LEFT.
The fastest time of 1:18 was recorded by Doug and Spencer White in a 1959 MGA, who miraculously made the minimum number of turns and waltzed to victory. The average time was in the 3-minute range. Of the 40 cars which ran against the clock, there were four that required more than 6 minutes. Only one reached the 8-minute maximum, requiring rescue by a 9-year-old on a bicycle.
The Octagon Corn Maze was the feature event of the Glasgow Green Trials, an all-day low-speed driving skills competition — known as a funkhana — sponsored by the Ohio Chapter of the New England MG-T Register, an international club for MG cars from the 1940s and '50s, such as the TC, TD and TF models.
Now, let truth be known that yours truly is the Jalop who concocted this one-off maze for cars back in 1997. The thought of driving cars through a corn maze popped into my mind while reading about classic hedge mazes in a British travel magazine. So I contacted Adrian Fisher in England, mentioned in the article as the world's leading maze designer, and explained my concept. He was intrigued with the idea, said he was not aware of it being done before, and generously offered some improvements to my octagonal layout. Fisher suggested using straw bales as roadblocks, which could be arranged as necessary to adjust the difficulty of the layout... a great idea. Although the event was well documented in publications for sports car enthusiasts and fondly remembered by participants, I have not heard of anyone since creating a car maze.
Considering the popularity of the X Games, WRC, rallycross, and antics of Top Gear hosts, you would think that adventurous owners of on- and off-road vehicles would jump at the opportunity to steer their way out of a corn field.
Fourteen years ago there was no Jalopnik to spread the word to fun-loving car enthusiasts. It's now corn maze season across the US and maybe — just maybe — one of those farm owners will be encouraged to widen maze paths to accommodate a car. Or even a motorcycle??
Today's camera technology would turn a car maze into a super spectator event. My aerial photos were taken by a couple who owned a helicopter. Afterwards, they landed and handed me the film for developing. I can only imagine the media opportunities utilizing GoPro cameras, quadcopters and a JumboTron for the spectators!