Wacky Races is an American animated television series produced by Hanna-Barbera. The series, inspired by the 1965 slapstick comedy film The Great Race, features 11 different cars racing against each other in various road rallies throughout North America, with each driver hoping to win the title of the "World's Wackiest Racer." Wacky Races ran on CBS from September 14, 1968, to January 4, 1969. Seventeen episodes were produced, with each episode featuring two different races.
The cartoon had an unusually large number of regular characters, with twenty-three people and animals spread among the 11 race cars. Reruns of the series began airing on Cartoon Network on October 1, 1992. A reboot series was made in 2017 for Boomerang.
The Wacky Races are a series of car competitions in which 11 racers, race in locations throughout North America. The rules are extremely lax and allow for almost any vehicle design, power system and a wide range of tactics like combat and shortcuts. Despite this loose rule structure, competitors Dick Dastardly and his dog sidekick, Muttley, are still determined to cheat in their own ineffectual way.
- Main Article: Wacky Races/Characters
The vehicles and their drivers are:
- 00, the Mean Machine (Dick Dastardly and Muttley)
- 1, the Boulder Mobile (Rock Slag and Gravel Slag)
- 2, the Creepy Coupe (Big Gruesome and Little Gruesome)
- 3, the Convert-a-Car (Professor Pat Pending)
- 4, the Crimson Haybaler (the Red Max)
- 5, the Compact Pussycat (Penelope Pitstop)
- 6, the Army Surplus Special (Private Meekley and Sergeant Blast (Wacky Races))
- 7, the Bulletproof Bomb (the Ant Hill Mob, identified on model sheets as Clyde, Ring-a-Ding, Mac, Rug-Bug Benny, Danny, Willy and Kurby)
- 8, the Arkansas Chugabug (Lazy Luke and Blubber Bear)
- 9, the Turbo Terrific (Peter Perfect)
- 10, the Buzzwagon (Rufus Ruffcut and Sawtooth Beaver)
- Daws Butler – Rock Slag, Big Gruesome, Red Max, Sergeant Blast, Peter Perfect, Rufus Ruffcut
- Don Messick – Muttley, Gravel Slag, Little Gruesome, Professor Pat Pending, Ring-a-Ding,
- John Stephenson – Luke and Blubber Bear
- Janet Waldo – Penelope Pitstop
- Paul Winchell – Dick Dastardly, Private Meekly, Clyde, Sawtooth
- Dave Willock – Narrator
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 we sometimes saw some or all of the other cars cross the finish line). The show never indicated a particular scoring system or way to determine who won the Wacky Races as a whole. However, based on FIA's 1961-90 Formula One point-scoring system in use when the show first aired (9 points for 1st place, 6 for 2nd and 4 for 3rd), the Slag Brothers would finish with 87 points, followed by Rufus Ruffcut and Sawtooth with 79, and then The Ant Hill Mob with 74. Based on this, the cumulative totals for first, second, and third place finishes for each contestant are presented below:
|Contestants||Car Name||Car #||1st||2nd||3rd||Top 3||Points|
|The Slag Brothers||The Boulder Mobile||1||3||8||3||14||87|
|Rufus Ruffcut & Sawtooth||The Buzzwagon||10||3||6||4||13||79|
|The Ant Hill Mob||The Bulletproof Bomb||7||4||5||2||11||74|
|The Gruesome Twosome||The Creepy Coupe||2||3||3||6||12||69|
|Penelope Pitstop||The Compact Pussycat||5||4||2||5||11||68|
|The Red Max||The Crimson Haybailer||4||3||4||3||10||63|
|Profeesor Pat Pending||The Covert-A-Car||3||3||2||5||10||59|
|Luke & Blubber Bear||The Arkansas Chugabug||8||4||1||4||9||58|
|Peter Perfect||The Turbo Terriffic||9||4||2||2||8||56|
|Sgt. Blast & Prvt. Meekly||The Army Surplus Special||6||3||1||0||4||33|
|Dick Dastardly & Muttley||The Mean Machine||00||0||0||0||0||0|
To win, one did not actually need to be in one's assigned vehicle; apparently all that was necessary was for the driver to cross the finish line in a conveyance of some sort (a flying carpet or a giant ice cube would do), although racers were apparently prohibited from simply walking across. Oddly, however, disqualification would result if a driver crossed the finish line "in the wrong vehicle."
Spin-offs & 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 two seasons.
The basic ideas behind Wacky Races and some of the characters were used again by Hanna-Barbera in later years:
- The new character of Mumbly (star of the 1976 The Mumbly Cartoon Show) bears a strong resemblance to Muttley.
- The new character of Captain Caveman (star of the 1977 Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels series) bears a strong resemblance to the Slag Brothers.
- In 1977, Mumbly (who, in contrast to his role as a detective on his solo series, is now depicted as a villain) and Dread Baron (who strongly resembles Dick Dastardly) became the leaders of the Really Rottens team on the Laff-A-Lympics cartoon, which featured three teams of Hanna-Barbera characters (including Mumbly's villainous "Really Rottens" team, Yogi Bear's "Yogi Yahooeys" team that consisted of many of his friends from Yogi's Gang, and Scooby Doo's "Scooby Doobies" team that included many of the crime-solving characters from that era, including Captain Caveman) competing in races and competitions around the world. However, in the Latin American version of Laff-A-Lympics, Mumbly was credited as Muttley.
- The 1978 series Yogi's Space Race featured Hanna-Barbera stalwarts such as Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, and others racing against each other throughout outer space while fending off a tall, thin villain (Phantom Phink) and his snickering dog (Sinister Sludge).
- Dick Dastardly and Muttley returned in the 1985 series Yogi's Treasure Hunt as they competed in a treasure hunt against Yogi Bear and many of his prior "Yogi Yahooeys" teammates. Instead of driving the Mean Machine, Dastardly piloted a submarine called The SS Dirty Tricks and a World War I biplane in this series.
- Dread Baron and Mumbly (once again replacing Dick Dastardly and Muttley) return to antagonize Yogi and many of his "Yogi Yahooeys" teammates in the 1987 film Yogi Bear and the Magical Flight of the Spruce Goose.
- Blubber Bear appeared in The New Yogi Bear Show in 1988.
- The 1990 syndicated series Wake, Rattle and Roll featured a segment called Fender Bender 500. It featured Dick Dastardly and Muttley (and a revamped "Mean Machine" that is renamed "Dirty Truckster") racing against Yogi Bear, Winsome Witch, Quick Draw McGraw, and other Hanna-Barbera stars.
- In 1991, teenage versions of Dick Dastardly and Muttley appeared on the Yo Yogi! series with Yogi Bear, Boo-Boo Bear, Cindy Bear, Snagglepuss, and Huckleberry Hound.
- 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, 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). This series was not picked up by Cartoon Network.
Warner Home Video released the entire series, with commentaries and other extras, in a DVD box set on October 26, 2004. All 34 segments can also be purchased on the iTunes Store.