Classic Cartoons

The History of the Cartoon ‘Wacky Races’

Wacky Races highlights the villains

Are you a fan of car racing? If the answer is yes, then ‘Wacky Races’ is just right for you. This is another classic hit cartoon from the legendary Hanna-Barberaname. The show aired on CBS from September 14, 1968 – January 04, 1969. It’s also been recently rebooted as a series in 2017 and aired on the Boomerang channel.

Compared to other Hannah-Barbera cartoons, Wacky Races is unique for two reasons: first, it features the most number of regular cast members in just one cartoon show (24 regular characters in total); second, instead of glorifying the ‘good’ characters, the show features the villains.

As you read on, you’ll figure out why Wacky Races became a unique hit. It’s definitely not an ordinary kind of cartoon, which is probably why it still holds an audience’s interest enough for a reboot.

Wacky_Races_Starring_Dastardly_and_Muttley_Coverart

Wacky Races did not only become an on-screen hit, but it also became one of the most sought-after video games in the 90s to early 2000.

Here is a quick run-through of this cartoon’s history:

  • Initial Airing – Wacky Races was shown on CBS from September 14, 1968, to January 04, 1969. In its four-month stint, Wacky Races aired a total of seventeen episodes.
  • Plot – As mentioned above, villains starred in this cartoon series and not the heroes. Dick Dastardly and his anthropomorphic dog sidekick Muttley were the resident villains of ‘Wacky Races’; at the same time, they were also the main characters.

The only problem with Dick is that he can’t prevent himself from throwing weapons to his enemies while the race is ongoing. Should Dick and his sidekick focus on driving their fast running car, Mean Machine, they will surely dominate the 34 races featured in the TV series. But in the show, this is not the case. Despite enjoying a huge lead, Dick couldn’t help throwing traps and launching assorted attack weapons to neutralize his opponents. When his opponents take revenge, that’s when the problem starts. Instead of winning the race, Dick always finds himself trailing the other vehicles at the end of the race. This is because Mean Machine cannot cope with the damage it sustains from the retaliating cars.

  • Huge Cast – This cartoon features a long lineup of regular characters. Here is a list of the 11 Wacky Car racers including the name of their respective vehicles.
  1. Dick Dastardly, Muttley- The Mean Machine
  2. The Slag Brothers- The Bouldermobile
  3. Professor Par Pending- The Covert-a-Car
  4. The Gruesome Twosome- The Creepy Coupe
  5. Penelope Pitstop- The Compact Pussycat
  6. Red Max- The Crimson Haybaler
  7. Blubber Bear and Lazy Luke- The Arkansas Chug-a-Bug
  8. RuffusRuffcut and Sawtooth- The Buzzwagon
  9. Private Meekley and Sergeant Blast- The Army Surplus Special
  10. The Ant Hill Mob- The Bulletproof Bomb
  11. Peter Perfect- The Turbo Terrific
  • Main Dubber – It’s not surprising that Paul Winchell voiced Dick Dastardly, the main character of Wacky Races. As early as 1960, Paul had already dubbed several Hanna-Barbera and Walt Disney cartoons, including Gargamel (from The Smurfs), Boomer (from The Fox and the Hound), and Tigger (from Winnie the Pooh).
  • Public’s Reception – After its pilot airing, the show received tremendous support from the viewers. Positive reviews flooded in from viewers of all ages and demographics. Later, analytics showed that most of the viewers of the Wacky Races were aged six and up. Despite the viewers’ positive response, Wacky Races just aired for four months. This was in compliance with the original plan agreed upon by the network and the producers.
  • Later Spinoffs – Due to the public’s positive reception, several Wacky Races characters were spun off to top-bill several other Hanna-Barbera hit series. Ant Hill Mob and Penelope Pitstop starred in the 1969 hit ‘The perils of Penelope Pitstop.’ In the same year, Dick Dastardly and Muttley starred another spinoff series entitled ‘Dastardly &Muttley in Their Flying Machines.’
  • Video Games – In 1992, the Wacky Races video game was released exclusively for the NES, ZX Spectrum, IBM PC, and Commodore 64 video game systems. The game’s perspective is that the player will take the role of the sidekick Muttley who was sent by his boss Dick for a mission- to emerge first place in every race! There was also a Wacky Races video game developed by SEGA Genesis, but it was never released to the public. The reason for the cancellation remains a secret up to the present time. In 2000, more and more Wacky Races video games were released. These video games were developed to run on Game Boy Color, PC, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, and SEGA’s Dreamcast.
  • Other Plans:There were also several unused plans surrounding the series that never came to fruition. One of these was that the races would become a sort of live-action game show under Heather-Quigley Productions. The contestants were supposed to place bets on the winner. There was also supposed to be a made-for-TV movie called ‘Around the World with the Wacky Racers’ as part of the Superstar 10 series by Hannah-Barbera. While the idea was presented, the concept never got any further than a few discussions.
  • Reboot – In 2017, Rebecca Himot and TrammWigzell created a reboot of the classic Wacky Races. The TV series was aired as part of Boomerang’s video-on-demand content. Under its first season, the ‘reboot’ Wacky Races series ran for a total of 40 episodes. In the second season, 38 episodes were aired.

Conclusion

This cartoon series had a medley of interesting, fun characters and a unique perspective for the viewers as well. With the spinoff and the reboot, it’s clear that people are still enjoying the creativity and concepts within the show.

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