Episodes: 17 (half-hour)
TV show dates: October 3, 1961 — January 4, 1969
Series status: Cancelled
Performers include: Daws Butler, Don Messick, John Stephenson, Janet Waldo, Dave Willock, and Paul Winchell.
TV show description:
A group of very strange characters and their equally odd vehicles take part in a cross country race for the title of “wackiest racer.”
The bad guy of the bunch is Dick Dastardly (Paul Winchell) who, along with his snickering dog Muttley (Don Messick), travels in the Mean Machine and tries to cheat his way to the finish.
Penelope Pitstop (Janet Waldo) is the only female driver and drives the pink Compact Pussycat car. The vehicle comes with lots of personal grooming accessories to help her look her best at all times.
Dashing Peter Perfect (Daws Butler) drives the Turbo Terrific and remains the perfect gentleman, even when his auto has been sabotaged. He has a crush on Penelope and rescues her if needed. She returns his affections.
Rock (Butler) and Gravel Slag (Messick) are a pair of very hairy cavemen who drive an auto made of stone called the Bouldermobile. Big Gruesome (Butler), a Frankenstein-like monster, and Little Gruesome the vampire (Messick) drive a hearse-like vehicle called the Creepy Coupe.
Professor Pat Pending (Messick) is a scientist who steers the Convert-a-Car, a boat on wheels that’s filled with gadgets and can transform into any kind of transportation. Red Max (Butler) is a flying ace who drives a red plane on wheels called the Crimson Haybailer.
Sergeant Blast (Butler) and Private Meekly (Winchell) motor around in a hybrid of a jeep and tank called the Army Surplus Special. Diminutive gangster Clyde (Winchell) and the rest of the Ant Hill Mob do their best to win the competition in the Bulletproof Bomb, a 1920s sedan.
Hillbilly Lazy Luke (John Stephenson) sleeps his way through half of the races, driving while propped up on a rocking chair of the Arkansas Chuggabug. Meanwhile, his companion Blubber Bear (Stephenson) is understandably terrified and constantly shakes and bites his nails.
And finally, Rufus Ruffcut (Butler) is a big burly lumberjack who travels with a beaver named Sawtooth (Messick) on the Buzzwagon. It’s made of logs and has buzzsaws for wheels.
The races are narrated by an unseen commentator (Dave Willock) who sometimes talks directly to the competitors during the race.
Race to Racine: Muttley takes a picture of Penelope, blinding her with the flash, and Dastardly turns Sarge all around. Muttley infiltrates the Ant Hill Mob, masquerading as “Smiley O’Toole.” He’s asked to get rid of Dastardly and he happily complies by throwing a grenade at his boss’ car. Later, the duo spray the other racers with slow-motion gas, just before Muttley accidentally sprays Dastardly and himself. The Creepy Coupe wins, the Bouldermobile comes in second, and the Convert-A-Car is third.
The Carlsbad or Bust Bash: Dastardly and Muttley let the others get a big headstart after sabotaging the road with a big hole. The other racers soon escape and the bad guys are trapped instead. Peter Perfect tries using triple wheels but it only works for awhile. Dastardly turns up the heat on the Chuggabug furnace but it sends the vehicle speeding ahead. Dastardly sends Muttley to install a fake “Bridge is Out” sign. Dastardly speeds ahead of the others but the bridge really is out and they fall into the river. They try to use the river as a shortcut but end up going over a waterfall. In the Carlsbad cavern, Dastardly and Muttley meet a caveman and they get him to throw a boulder at the other racers. It backfires and the bad guys are left wandering through the tunnels with the boulder on their tail. The Compact Pussycat wins with the Crimson Haybailer and Bouldermobile in second and third places.
First aired: January 4, 1969.
What happened next?
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 in which they raced against other classic Hanna-Barbera characters. There have also been a few video games, comic books and occasional appearances of some of the characters.
Behind the Scenes
Each episode contained two races. The Arkansas Chugabug, the Bulletproof Bomb, the Compact Pussycat, and the Turbo Terrific won four races each. The rest won three races each except for the Mean Machine. Dick Dastardly never won nor placed in the top three.