Wacky Races (TV Series 1968–1970)
|Genre||Animation, Comedy, Family, Sport|
|Company||Hanna-Barbera Productions, Merrill Heatter-Bob Quigley Productions|
Wacky Races (1968 TV series)
Wacky Races is an American animated television series produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions. The series features 11 different cars racing against each other in various road rallies throughout North America, with all of the drivers hoping to win the title of the "World's Wackiest Racer". The show was inspired by the 1965 comedy film The Great Race.
The cartoon had many regular characters, with 23 people and animals spread among the 11 race cars. Wacky Races ran on CBS from September 14, 1968, to January 4, 1969, and in syndication from 1976 to 1982. Seventeen 20-minute episodes were produced, with each of them featuring two 10-minute segments.
The series spawned numerous spin-offs throughout the years featuring Dick Dastardly, the most similar in theme being "Fender Bender 500" in 1990.
In 2017, the series was remade as a reboot, airing on Boomerang.
The cartoon revolves around several racers with various themes who are each allowed to use strange gimmicks to compete against other racers in many races across the United States.
- Dick Dastardly, an archetypal mustache-twirling villain and his wheezily snickering dog, Muttley, in the Mean Machine (00); their sinister vehicle is a purple, rocket-powered car with an abundance of concealed weapons and the ability to fly. Dastardly's usual race strategy revolves around using the Mean Machine's great speed to get ahead of the other racers and then setting a trap to stop them and maintain the lead, but most of his plans backfire, causing him to fall back into last place. Dastardly is the only racer who not only never wins, but never even finishes in the top three in any race. In the opening title sequence, Dastardly attempts to stall the racers by chaining their cars to a pole, but then he accidentally shifts his car into reverse, bumps into and breaks the pole and frees the others as the race begins.
- The Slag Brothers, Rock and Gravel, in a caveman-themed race car called the Boulder Mobile (1); their car is made out of rock and the brothers (who talk in caveman-like gibberish but with occasional intelligible words) power it up by hitting it on both sides with their clubs and are also able to re-build it from bare rock, always using their clubs.
- The Gruesome Twosome, Tiny "Big Gruesome" and Bela "Little Gruesome", who are monsters, in the Creepy Coupe (2); their horror-themed car includes a small bell tower inhabited by a fire-breathing dragon, bats and other creatures. The Creepy Coupe's special booster is "dragon power," with the dragon acting as a RATO unit.
- Professor Pat Pending, an inventor, in the Convert-a-Car (3); he can transform his car into pretty much anything that moves.
- The Red Max, a Manfred von Richthofen-styled aviator who speaks with a German accent, in a car/airplane hybrid called the Crimson Haybaler (4); his vehicle is able to fly, although only for short distances in ground effect.
- Penelope Pitstop, the lone female driver, in a 1930s racing costume in the Compact Pussycat (5); a Southern belle, Penelope. Seems more concerned with her looks than with racing and often gets herself into trouble. Nevertheless, she is a skilled racer, usually in the top three finishers and winning several times.
- Sergeant Blast and Private Meekly in an armored car/tank hybrid called the Army Surplus Special (6); the Sergeant uses "fire power" (i.e. shooting cannonballs from his turret) to temporarily boost power in the car.
- The Ant Hill Mob, a group of dwarf-like gangsters led by Clyde and is composed of him, Ring-A-Ding, Rug Bug Benny, Mac, Danny, Kirby and Willy, in the Bulletproof Bomb (7); they are sometimes preoccupied with getting caught by the police and are able to use "getaway power", which involves all the gangsters (except for Clyde) extending their legs through the bottom of the car and running.
- Lazy Luke, a hillbilly, and Blubber Bear, a timid, cry-baby bear, in the Arkansas Chuggabug (8); Luke maneuvers the steering wheel with his bare feet and his car is steam-powered from an old rickety boiler. Luke has been known to blow up a balloon and use it as an air jet for briefly increased speed.
- Peter Perfect, a gentlemanly racer, in the Turbo Terrific (9); Peter is extremely strong, but also very vain, and he often boasts about the virtues of his high-tech race car - which regularly falls to pieces seconds after he praises it. He is fond of Penelope and often helps her out.
- Rufus Ruffcut, a lumberjack, and his companion Sawtooth, a beaver, in the Buzz Wagon (10); their car, entirely made of wood, features four circular saw blades as wheels and Sawtooth is able to cut through obstacles (such as trees and other objects) at super-high speed.
One of the unused plans for the series was that the races would be part of a live-action game show produced by Heatter-Quigley Productions (known for The Hollywood Squares), in which contestants would bet on which Wacky Racer would cross the finish line first. Although the game show concept was scrapped, the series was still produced by Hanna-Barbera Productions, in association with Heatter-Quigley Productions.
In 1988, a made-for-TV movie, Around the World with the Wacky Racers, was planned as part of Hanna-Barbera's Superstars 10 series of TV movies, but never got past the concept stage.
It has been said that the feature film The Great Race (1965) was an influence towards three characters in this series: Peter Perfect (after Leslie Gallant III, played by Tony Curtis), Penelope Pitstop (after Maggie Dubois, played by Natalie Wood), and Dick Dastardly (after Professor Fate, played by Jack Lemmon.)
- Paul Winchell – Dick Dastardly, Private Meekly, Clyde
- Don Messick – Muttley, Professor Pat Pending, Gravel Slag, Bella Gruesome, Ring-a-Ding, Sawtooth
- Daws Butler – Rock Slag, Tiny Gruesome, Red Max, Sergeant Blast, Peter Perfect, Rufus Ruffcut
- John Stephenson – Luke, Blubber Bear
- Janet Waldo – Penelope Pitstop
- Dave Willock – Commentator/Narrator
List of episodes
|No.||Title||Original air date||Prod.|
|1a||"See-Saw to Arkansas"||September 14, 1968||35–1|
|The Wacky Racers undertake a grueling zig-zag race to Mustard, Ark. Also, The Ant Hill Mob escapes a pursuing policeman by donning disguises as the Seven Dwarfs.|
|1b||"Creepy Trip to Lemon Twist"||September 14, 1968||35–2|
|The Wacky Racers encounter ghosts in the abandoned town of Spookane.|
|2a||"Why Oh Why Wyoming"||September 21, 1968||35–3|
|The Wacky Racers roar across the desert, dashing toward Rock Springs, Wyo. Meanwhile, Dick Dastardly teams up with Indian chief Crazy Buffalo in an attempt to stop the racers in their tracks.|
|2b||"Beat the Clock to Yellow Rock"||September 21, 1968||35–4|
|At Yellow Rock Park, Dastardly attempts to disguise the Old Unfaithful geyser as part of the road, and later ensures that Lazy Luke and Blubber Bear do not leave the park.|
|3a||"Mish-Mash Missouri Dash"||September 28, 1968||35–6|
|Dastardly discovers an irate hillbilly determined to protect his land from trespassers—including the Wacky Racers!|
|3b||"Idaho a Go-Go"||September 28, 1968||35–5|
|The racers embark on a lap to a little town in Idaho, while Dastardly tries to entrap Penelope Pitstop with a "Little Red Riding Hood" ploy.|
|4a||"The Baja-Ha-Ha Race"||October 5, 1968||35–11|
|In Mexico, Dick Dastardly and Muttley try to slow the other drivers by using a herd of cow-shaped balloons to block the road.|
|4b||"Real Gone Ape"||October 5, 1968||35–8|
|Dick Dastardly hypnotizes a giant gorilla in an attempt to win the race.|
|5a||"Scout Scatter"||October 12, 1968||35–7|
|The Ant Hill Mob escapes the police by posing as Wood Scouts.|
|5b||"Free Wheeling to Wheeling"||October 12, 1968||35–10|
|Dick Dastardly makes use of heavy machinery to stop the Wacky Racers.|
|6a||"By Rollercoaster to Upsan Downs"||October 19, 1968||35–9|
|The Wacky Racers travel by roller coaster when Dick Dastardly diverts them into a closed amusement park.|
|6b||"The Speedy Arkansas Traveler"||October 19, 1968||35–12|
|Racing to Noah's, Arkansas, Dastardly and Muttley hilariously pose as army officers to harass the Army Surplus Special, but find themselves scrambling from actual army officers!|
|7a||"The Zippy Mississippi Race"||October 26, 1968||35–15|
|Dastardly diverts the rest of the racers onto a Mississippi riverboat.|
|7b||"Traffic Jambalaya"||October 26, 1968||35–17|
|Dastardly tricks several racers into searching for a "harmless" gorilla, who is actually Dastardly in disguise, at a wild animal park.|
|8a||"Hot Race at Chillicothe"||November 2, 1968||35–16|
|Dishonest Dick Dastardly steals a police car and chases the Ant Hill Mob into a boys' baseball game.|
|8b||"The Wrong Lumber Race"||November 2, 1968||35–18|
|In Oregon's rugged lumber country, Dick Dastardly tries to use falling trees and spinning saw blades to stop the racers.|
|9a||"Rhode Island Road Race"||November 9, 1968||35–19|
|Devious Dick Dastardly diverts the Boulder Mobile onto a construction site and the other racers follow it up the girders of a skyscraper.|
|9b||"The Great Cold Rush Race"||November 9, 1968||35–13|
|On a trans-Canadian race, Dastardly disguises himself as an Abominable Snowman.|
|10a||"Wacky Race to Ripsaw"||November 16, 1968||35–20|
|To prevent Penelope from coming in first place, Dastardly creates a roadside beauty parlor to lure her into stopping and later literally jacks up the Army Surplus Special after diverting them into a garage.|
|10b||"Oils Well That Ends Well"||November 16, 1968||35–21|
|The Wacky Racers are once again beset by Dick Dastardly's deviously dirty tricks as they race across oil drilling country.|
|11a||"Whizzin' to Washington"||November 23, 1968||35–22|
|When the Ant Hill Mob zooms past Dick Dastardly, he directs a police officer to chase them.|
|11b||"The Dipsy Doodle Desert Derby"||November 23, 1968||35–24|
|Dick Dastardly finds a genie in a bottle and tries to use his powers to win the race.|
|12a||"Eeny, Miny Missouri Go!"||November 30, 1968||35–14|
|Dick Dastardly plots to have an aquarium whale swallow the rest of the contestants!|
|12b||"The Super Silly Swamp Sprint"||November 30, 1968||35–23|
|Dastardly and Muttley unleash a squadron of mechanical mosquitoes to wreak havoc on the other cars.|
|13a||"The Dopey Dakota Derby"||December 7, 1968||35–27|
|Speeding from Cactus City to Gopher Gulch in the Badlands, Dick Dastardly disguises himself as "Deadweed Dick," an outlaw that he sees on a Wanted poster.|
|13b||"Dash to Delaware"||December 7, 1968||35–26|
|Speeding to Wott-Will, Delaware, Dick Dastardly sprays cake icing on the road, sending Penelope Pitstop and Peter Perfect into a bakery, where he turns them into wedding cake toppers.|
|14a||"Speeding for Smogland"||December 14, 1968||35–28|
|During the race, Dick Dastardly lures the other racers toward a castle façade for a King Arthur movie, hoping to drop the portcullis on one of them.|
|14b||"Race Rally to Raleigh"||December 14, 1968||35–25|
|Dick Dastardly lures the other racers onto a farm, where chaos ensues.|
|15a||"Ballpoint, Penn. or Bust!"||December 21, 1968||35–30|
|Speeding toward Ballpoint, Pennsylvania, Dick Dastardly sets up a fake train crossing, but the train comes out of the screen and runs over him.|
|15b||"Fast Track to Hackensack"||December 21, 1968||35–29|
|Speeding to Hackensack, New Jersey, Dick Dastardly changes a speed limit sign so The Ant Hill Mob are arrested by the local sheriff for speeding.|
|16a||"The Ski Resort Road Race"||December 28, 1968||35–33|
|Speeding from Mush-Mush, Michigan to Iceandsnow, Idaho, Dick Dastardly causes an avalanche. He uses a ski jump for his own getaway, but the other cars follow him.|
|16b||"Overseas Hi-Way Race"||December 28, 1968||35–34|
|Speeding across a series of bridges from Key Largo to Key West, Florida, Dick Dastardly tries to blow the other racers off course by using a giant wind machine to create an artificial hurricane.|
|17a||"Race to Racine"||January 4, 1969||35–31|
|Speeding to Racine, Wisconsin, Dick Dastardly uses various tactics such as blinding Penelope Pitstop with a camera flash and using a large mechanical eggbeater to turn the Army Surplus Special the wrong way.|
|17b||"The Carlsbad or Bust Bash"||January 4, 1969||35–32|
|Series finale. Dick Dastardly digs a pit to trap some drivers, Penelope Pitstop powders her nose and blinds Red Max, and the Turbo Terrific speeds into first place. Dastardly tries to overheat The Arkansas Chug-a-Bug, but it just propels itself into first place from the extra steam. Dastardly has Muttley place a fake "Bridge Out" sign to stop the racers, but Dastardly discovers too late that the bridge really is out. At Carlsbad Caverns, Dastardly attacks them with a boulder, but Professor Pat Pending cues it back at him as the other racers make it out.|
The show gave the results of each race at the end of each episode (the first, second, and third placings are given by the narrator, and the narrative sometimes saw some or all of the other cars cross the finish line) as well as what happened with Dick Dastardly after his last scheme's failure. The show never indicated a particular scoring system or way to determine who won the Wacky Races as a whole. The cumulative totals for first-, second-, and third-place finishes for each contestant are presented below:
|Contestants||Car name||Car no.||1st||2nd||3rd||Top 3|
|The Slag Brothers||The Boulder Mobile||1||3||8||3||14|
|Rufus Ruffcut and Sawtooth||The Buzzwagon||10||3||6||4||13|
|The Gruesome Twosome||The Creepy Coupe||2||3||3||6||12|
|The Ant Hill Mob||The Bulletproof Bomb||7||4||5||2||11|
|Penelope Pitstop||The Compact Pussycat||5||4||2||5||11|
|The Red Max||The Crimson Haybaler||4||3||4||3||10|
|Professor Pat Pending||The Convert-A-Car||3||3||2||5||10|
|Lazy Luke and Blubber Bear||The Arkansas Chuggabug||8||4||1||4||9|
|Peter Perfect||The Turbo Terrific||9||4||2||2||8|
|Sergeant Blast and Private Meekly||The Army Surplus Special||6||3||1||0||4|
|Dick Dastardly and Muttley||The Mean Machine||00||0||0||0||0|
|1. The Boulder Mobile||2. The Creepy Coupe||3. The Convert-A-Car||4. The Crimson Haybaler||5. The Compact Pussycat||6. The Army Surplus Special||7. The Bulletproof Bomb||8. The Arkansas Chuggabug||9. The Turbo Terrific||10. The Buzzwagon||00. The Mean Machine|
|1a||See-Saw to Arkansas||2nd||1st||3rd|
|1b||Creepy Trip to Lemon Twist||2nd||1st||3rd||DSQ|
|2a||Why Oh Why Wyoming||2nd||1st||8th||7th||6th||5th||10th||3rd||9th||4th||11th|
|2b||Beat the Clock to Yellow Rock||5th||3rd||7th||10th||9th||6th||4th||1st||8th||2nd|
|3a||Mish-Mash Missouri Bash||3rd||1st||4th||2nd|
|3b||Idaho a Go-Go||1st||3rd||2nd|
|4a||The Baja-Ha-Ha Race||1st||5th||4th||3rd||7th||6th||2nd||9th||8th||10th||11th|
|4b||Real Gone Ape||9th||5th||7th||2nd||6th||1st||4th||10th||8th||3rd|
|5b||Free Wheeling to Wheeling||5th||4th||6th||3rd||7th||1st||2nd|
|6a||By Rollercoaster to Upsan Downs||2nd||1st||3rd|
|6b||The Speedy Arkansas Traveler||1st||4th||2nd||3rd|
|7a||The Zippy Mississippi Race||7th||6th||5th||8th||3rd||10th||2nd||9th||1st||4th|
|8a||Hot Race at Chillicothe||3rd||2nd||1st|
|8b||The Wrong Lumber Race||9th||3rd||6th||8th||7th||4th||2nd||10th||5th||1st|
|9a||Rhode Island Road Race||2nd||1st||3rd|
|9b||The Great Cold Rush Race||4th||5th||1st||7th||3rd||2nd||6th||8th|
|10a||Wacky Race to Ripsaw||3rd||2nd||1st|
|10b||Oils Well That Ends Well||10th||6th||1st||4th||5th||2nd||9th||7th||8th||3rd||11th|
|11a||Whizzin' to Washington||7th||5th||2nd||6th||4th||3rd||1st|
|11b||The Dipsy Doodle Desert Derby||4th||3rd||5th||1st||2nd|
|12a||Eeny, Miny Missouri Go!||5th||1st||3rd||2nd||4th|
|12b||The Super Silly Swamp Sprint||5th||4th||3rd||1st||6th||2nd|
|13a||The Dopey Dakota Derby||9th||8th||2nd||3rd||4th||6th||1st||5th||7th||10th|
|13b||Dash to Delaware||3rd||1st||2nd|
|14a||Speeding for Smogland||2nd||3rd||1st||4th|
|14b||Race Rally to Raleigh||2nd||4th||5th||1st||3rd|
|15a||Ballpoint, Penn. or Bust!||4th||9th||10th||2nd||1st||8th||3rd||7th||5th||6th|
|15b||Fast Track to Hackensack||2nd||3rd||1st|
|16a||The Ski Resort Road Race||8th||9th||3rd||5th||7th||1st||10th||6th||4th||2nd|
|16b||Overseas Hi-Way Race||2nd||8th||6th||5th||3rd||9th||4th||10th||1st||7th|
|17a||Race to Racine||2nd||1st||3rd||10th||4th||6th||9th||7th||5th||8th|
|17b||The Carlsbad or Bust Bash||3rd||6th||2nd||1st||4th||5th|
Spin-offs and similar series
Penelope Pitstop and the Ant Hill Mob were spun off into another cartoon series in 1969 titled The Perils of Penelope Pitstop. In the same year, Dick Dastardly and Muttley were given a spin-off series titled Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines. The series is sometimes mistakenly known as Stop the Pigeon, after the show's working title and theme song. Both series ran for a season each.
In 1977, Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels was produced. The titular Captain Caveman was modeled after the Slag Brothers.
In 1990, a cartoon segment in Wake, Rattle and Roll named Fender Bender 500 was produced. The show follows the same premise as Wacky Races, taking place on a World Tour instead of in the United States. Only Dick Dastardly was retained from the original cast; all the other racers are from other Hanna-Barbera shows such as "Yogi Bear" and "Augie Doggie and Doggie Daddy".
In 2006, the pilot for a spin-off series titled Wacky Races Forever was produced for Cartoon Network. The series depicted a roster of both new and returning racers competing against each other. Penelope Pitstop and Peter Perfect had married and created Perfect Industries, the corporate sponsor of the new Wacky Races, whereas their children Parker and Piper competed in the race. Other characters included the Slag Brothers, Professor Pat Pending (depicted here with a mad scientist personality), a teenage version of the Gruesome Twosome, and Dick Dastardly and Muttley (working for a new villain named Mr. Viceroy, who sought to steal Perfect Industries). The series was not picked up by Cartoon Network.
In 2016, DC Comics launched a comic series called Wacky Raceland. It was a dark and gritty reimagining of the series set after the Apocalypse in a similar vein to the Mad Max franchise. The comic ran for six issues from May to December 2016.
A reboot—also produced by Hanna-Barbera—was released on Boomerang's SVOD service in 2017. It also aired on the Boomerang channels around the world starting later in the year.
Hanna-Barbera cinematic universe
Dick Dastardly and Muttley made an appearance in the Scooby-Doo feature film, Scoob!, released on May 15, 2020. Rock Slag and Gravel Slag made cameo appearances during the prehistoric gladiator scene. Various drawings of the Wacky Racers cameo on Dick Dastardly's prison cell on the wall during the credits. A film based on Wacky Races is currently in development.
Various video games based on the series have been produced.
- Wacky Races (1991)
- Wacky Races (2000)
- Wacky Races/Wacky Races: Starring Dastardly and Muttley
- Wacky Races: Mad Motors
- Wacky Races: Crash and Dash
In 1993, Sega released a medal game based on the series, exclusively in Japan. It was a racing game, but the outcome of the race depended entirely on luck. Later in 2007, another game called Wacky Races: Mad Motors for the PlayStation 2 was released by Blast Entertainment on June 12. A new video game for the Wii and Nintendo DS consoles titled Wacky Races: Crash and Dash was released on June 27, 2008. This game was developed by Eidos. In 2009, another arcade game was released by Banpresto, which was a more traditional racing game. It ran on the Taito Type X2, and was released internationally by Gamewax.
A three-disc DVD release of the complete series was made available in Japan on August 10, 2001 and had both English and Japanese audio. In Great Britain, Warner released a three-disc set with no extra features, which was only available in Virgin Megastores. The complete box set of Wacky Races was released on July 31, 2006 as an HMV exclusive but is essentially the standard Volumes 1–3 with no extras. The Australian release of Volume 1 and 2 was made available in 2005 and Volume 3 released in 2007.
Warner Home Video released the entire series, with commentaries and other extras, in a DVD box set on October 19, 2004.
A two-and-a-half-hour VHS video was made available in 1996.
All 34 episodes can be purchased on the iTunes Store.
|DVD name||Episode #||Release date||Additional information|
|Wacky Races: The Complete Series||34||October 19, 2004|
On February 14, 2017, Warner Archive re-released Wacky Races: The Complete Series on DVD in region 1 as part of their Hanna-Barbera Classics Collection as a Manufacture-on-Demand (MOD) release.
Translated language titles
- Bosnian: Uvrnute trke (Strange racing)
- Catalan: Els cotxes esbojarrats (The bumpy cars)
- Dutch: Hotse-knotse-kneuzen-rally (Wild bumpy loser rally)
- French: Les Fous du volant (The Fools of the Wheel)
- Frisian: Hotse-knotse-kneuzen-rally (Rally of hot knees)
- Galician: Os tolos do volante (The Fools of the Wheel)
- German: Autorennen Total (Total car race)
- Hungarian: Flúgos futam (Wacky race)
- Italian: Le corse pazze (The crazy races)
- Japanese: チキチキマシン猛レース – Chikichikimashin mō rēsu (Chiki Chiki Racing Machines)
- Polish: Odlotowe wyścigi (Cool races)
- Portuguese: Portugal: A Mais Louca Corrida do Mundo (The Craziest Race of the World) Brazil: Corrida Maluca (Crazy Race)
- Portugal: A Mais Louca Corrida do Mundo (The Craziest Race of the World)
- Brazil: Corrida Maluca (Crazy Race)
- Romanian: Curse Trăsnite (Wacky Races)
- Spanish: Los autos locos (The crazy cars)
- Serbian: Уврнуте трке (Strange racing)
- Swedish: Fartdårarna (Speed freaks)
The cars and characters in other media
Life-size working replicas of the vehicles have been built in the U.K. (where the show was very popular) and appear annually at the Goodwood Festival of Speed, with new additions each year. 2008 saw the last of the cars (the Ant Hill Mob in the Bulletproof Bomb #7) added to the collection, making a complete set.
- Goodwood Festival of Speed Wacky Races replicas
- Mean Machine #00
- Boulder Mobile #1
- Creepy Coupe #2
- Convert-a-Car #3
- Crimson Haybailer #4
- Compact Pussycat #5
- Army Surplus Special #6
- Turbo Terrific #9
In 2006, the car manufacturer Vauxhall launched a television commercial for the British market, parodying Wacky Races with a similar setup featuring Corsa cars. The commercial made several references to the cartoon as well as utilizing the show's theme music and Muttley's iconic snicker.
The English adult comic Viz had a one-off parody strip called "Wacky Racists" with David Irving as Dick Dastardly, Unity Mitford as Penelope Pitstop, Eugène Terre'Blanche as Lazy Luke, Oswald Mosley as Muttley, and comedian Bernard Manning in the "Fatcuntmobile".
In 2013, the car manufacturer Peugeot launched a TV commercial for the Brazilian market (and later used in Spain and Turkey), featuring the cartoon characters in a real-life universe.
Wacky Races was also seen in the South Park episode "Handicar".