Debuting in 1968, Wacky Races really consisted of only one race – one really, really long race. It covered the entire planet and never seemed to end. Was there a trophy? Who sponsored the race? When did they stop to fill up? These questions were never answered (but nobody seemed to mind) as the racers competed for first place and the title, “World’s Wackiest Racer.” Let’s take a look back at this classic cartoon.
Dick Dastardly and his sidekick dog Muttley were the stars of the show. Drivers of the Mean Machine (#00), the two would stop at nothing to win. Also on the road was the lovely Penelope Pitstop in her Compact Pussy Cat, a mobile beauty parlor. The other competitors included Pat Pending, The Red Max, Peter Perfect, Rufus and Sawtooth, General, Sergeant and Private Pinkley, Rock and Gravel Slug, Clyde and The Anthill Mob, The Gruesome Twosome, and Luke and Blubber Bear.
Surprisingly, all followed the rules closely, even when they used the special gadgets that each of their cars were equipped with.
Inspired in part by the hit film The Great Race, Wacky Races was a major part of network executive Fred Silverman’s grand scheme to bring more comedy cartoons to Saturday morning and produce shows with characters who could easily be spun off to their own programs. The strategy paid off a year later, as Dastardly and Muttley and Penelope Pitstop were deemed interesting enough to star in their own shows, Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines and The Perils of Penelope Pitstop. Of course, each continued to appear on Wacky Races as well.
As the first “gang” cartoon, Wacky Races established what would become a Hanna-Barbera tradition. With such a multitude of characters, the show could bounce from scene to scene with enough speed to please kids with even the shortest attention spans. Scooby’s All-Star Laff-A-Lympics, Yogi’s Space Race and many others all owe a debt to Wacky Races‘ freewheeling format.
If you remember starting your Saturday mornings with a healthy dose of Wacky Races, we’d love to hear your memories in our comments section.