Get ready to start the Wacky Races! If you were watching Saturday morning TV in the late 1960s, you surely remember Wacky Races.
The animated series ran for 17 episodes on CBS and was produced by Hanna-Barbera. Each week, a group of very strange characters and their equally odd vehicles would take part in a cross country race for the title of “wackiest racer.” It features the talents of legendary voice actors Daws Butler, Don Messick, John Stephenson, Janet Waldo, Dave Willock, and Paul Winchell.
Though it’s essentially an ensemble show, Penelope Pitstop (the only female driver) and her pink Compact Pussycat car are often featured. Other racers are the Slag Brothers in the Bouldermobile, the Gruesome Twosome in the Creepy Coupe, Professor Pat Pending in the Convert-a-Car, Red Max in the Crimson Haybailer, Sergeant Blast and Private Meekly in the Army Surplus Special, the Ant Hill Mob in the Bulletproof Bomb, Lazy Luke and Blubber Bear in the Arkansas Chuggabug, Peter Perfect in the Turbo Terrific, and Rufus Ruffcut and Sawtooth in the Buzzwagon.
The bad guy of the bunch is Dick Dastardly who, along with his snickering dog Muttley, travels in the Mean Machine and tries to cheat his way to the finish.
Penelope Pitstop and the Ant Hill Mob were given their own series in 1969, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop. That same year, Dick Dasterdly and Muttley were given their own spin-off called Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines. The nasty guys later resurfaced in 1990’s Wake Rattle & Roll and they raced against other classic Hanna-Barbera characters.
Though there have been a few video games and random references, it’s not very easy to find the Wacky Racers today — unless you attend the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Goodwood is a huge annual auto event that’s being held this weekend just outside of Chichester, about 60 miles from London. It features lots of displays, races and events that are open to the public.
For the past several years, life-size and working replicas of the Wacky Races cars have been part of the Goodwood festival. New vehicles were unveiled each year until the set was completed in 2008. To the enjoyment of the crowd, the drivers dress as the cartoon characters.
If you can’t get to the festival, here are a few photos and videos to enjoy. First, reacquaint yourself with the racers…
What do you think? Would you like to see the Wacky Races in person? Who’s your favorite?